By Kristy Fike
For many people (including myself), gun dog training or hunting with our dogs is our time to unplug from everything.
Although, these times are a great way to get away from everything, they could also be a great way to spend time with your family.
Your kids may act like they are too cool to hang out with their parents as they grow up, but they do appreciate the times they get to spend with their parents.
Not only do your kids appreciate the time they spend with you, but they probably cherish those times too. Invite your kids out with you one evening while you train the dog. This is a great idea to do with kids of all ages.
I think most kids would be intrigued by it, especially since a dog is involved. You can make it a family event and take your household out to train. Who knows, you may end up with your kids and their friends helping out too.
Get them outside and away from electronic screens, and in the fresh air. Some family members may not seem thrilled at first, but I am sure they will end up enjoying it too. At the least they will be able to look back and think about how they enjoyed spending time with you.
Sharing and Teaching Your Kids
Not only would you be spending time with your family, but you also would be passing your love for working the dog on to your kids. My dad and I have hunted together since I was big enough to follow behind him in the woods.
We started waterfowl hunting together after I got my first Labrador at age eleven. From then on waterfowl hunting and retriever training has been “our thing.”
Even if your kids decide they are not interested in gun dogs or gun dog training, you may have planted a seed. They may grow up and decide to get into it later in life.
That is something my father has mentioned when he has talked about taking kids hunting or fishing, and I believe the same thing applies to gun dogs. His former mentees have contacted him over the years and have become very involved in hunting and fishing because of the times he took them and introduced them to the sport.
Even though I am currently turning my love for Labradors into a business, we are still able share this passion. I can say honestly that I am glad my dad taught me about waterfowl and took me waterfowl hunting.
That being said, explain to your kids what you are teaching the dog. Share with them the importance of training your gun dog, and the importance of the dog’s role in the field.
After that, show them how to handle the dog, and let them handle the dog by themselves. Watch their face light up with excitement as they watch the dog work. Give them a “job” to do so that when you go hunting they feel like they invested something into the success of the day.
Get them involved in local hunt tests or field trials and watch how the members gather around them and make them feel special and help them. This will boost their confidence in a lot of things besides dog training.
Older family members benefit
Just because grandma or granddad are older, they don’t have to sit in the house. They can observe, make suggestions, throw a bumper, or watch the dog when you are training them to PLACE or STAY. I have my grandfather help me from time to time and he enjoys it.
This may be the hobby that both you and your spouse can pursue together. While your spouse may want to do their own thing and perhaps they have chalked up the dog training to “your thing”, explain to them that you want to do this together and ask them to give it a try.
Your spouse is your better half right? If that is so, they may see something that you don’t see. They may have suggestions that you have not thought of. If nothing else, you can WOW them with your knowledge and teach them the commands you use to work the dog. This helps them build a bond with the dog too.
By involving your family in the dog training, the dog benefits as well as the family. The family gets a dog that listens to all of them. The dog gets a family that wants to spend time with them. Now the dog does not have to sit waiting for the one special family member to take them out to train or hunt.
Everyone has a vested interest in the dog so why not get them all involved?