By: Kristy Fike
Have you ever had that buddy that wanted to take his new dog waterfowl hunting, and you know that this dog does not listen at all?
In the back of your mind, you may be trying to make an excuse not to go on this hunting trip.
Many waterfowl hunters know that a retriever that does not listen at all in the field or blind is very unpleasant to hunt with.
These dogs need basic obedience to be enjoyable company.
The basic obedience commands are the building blocks to your hunting companion’s “education”.
It is like people learning basic addition and subtraction to be able to advance to more complicated math.
The complicated math is like more advanced drills or commands.
Basic commands are “sit”, “stay”, “here”, “heel”, “lay down”, and “no”.
In my house, these commands are used multiple times every day.
Ask any owner of a good hunting dog that is a pleasure to hunt with if they are constantly tuning up their dog’s training and you will find the answer is yes.
“No” is something we say to our dogs every time he or she does something we do not approve of.
Use the command whenever you need to but be sure to stop the dog from doing whatever it is doing that is wrong too. Do not let the dog get away with bad behavior.
Sit and Stay
“Sit” is the first command that I taught my dogs, then I proceeded with “stay”.
Sit and stay go hand in hand. When I am out during gundog training sessions and need to go get more equipment from the house, I command “sit” first, then command “stay” as I am walking away.
I have heard people say that to them, sit means sit, so they don’t bother with stay because the dog should not get up.
Everyone has their own opinion about it, but I use both.
One way to teach these commands is to gently pull straight up on your dog’s collar or leash and at the same time gently push down on his or her hip area as you are commanding “sit” with a firm voice.
As soon as your dog sits, stop pulling up on the leash or collar.
Keep doing this repeatedly until your dog sits on command. You can do this prior to every time you let your dog outside or at feeding time.
Remember to give your dog lots of praise, so they understand what they did was a good thing.
After your dog can sit consistently, it is time for stay. Command your dog to sit. Take a few steps back and command “stay!”
If your dog stays for a few seconds then give a release command and praise. Now if your dog fails to stay, just reseat him or her and repeat it.
Once your dog gets the hang of it, then put more distance and time between you and your dog.
If my dog could only be taught one command, “here” would be the command. In my opinion, it’s the most important command because you can call your dog out of potentially dangerous hunting situations.
To teach this command your dog should be sitting and staying very well. I like to use a leash or a check cord for this command.
With your dog on a leash or cord, command “sit” and “stay”, then back up about five or ten yards.
Then squat down and command “here” as you pull your leash towards you.
My pup was a little confused when I first introduced this command to her, but with repetition, she understood it.
Once your dog understands at five or ten yards, then back up even more and command “here”. To challenge your dog, throw a dog toy out away from him or her and command “here”.
If your dog does not come to you, put a leash on him or her like before and repeat the drill.
With time your dog should be able to be called from long distances and come straight to you.
Practice this often off-season to keep them tuned up.
No one wants to be walked by their retriever when walking to the duck blind or over to the layouts.
To teach this command first have your dog on a leash. Move your dog by your side. Start to walk, but don’t let your dog get ahead of you.
They must learn to walk or run at your pace.
My dogs are not allowed to sniff around at the ground or anything to that effect while they are given the “heel” command.
A dog trainer once told me, “It’s your time not theirs.”
When your dog is walking by your side command “heel, heel!” It is going to take time and consistency with this command.
If your dog is not understanding, then start over.
“Lay down” can be taught easily. If your dog can sit, your dog can lay down.
First have your dog sit, then gently pull your dog’s front legs out, while commanding down or “lay down”.
This should cause your dog’s legs to slide down on the floor putting him or her in the laying down position. Repeat until your dog understands this command fully.
We can all agree that teaching your dog basic obedience is very valuable. Just keep the training sessions short. Do your best to end on a good note when training your dog.
That makes all the difference in the world.
You will have a better relationship with the dog as a result, and maybe your friends won’t mind if you bring your dog on the next hunt.