By Kristy Fike
Hunting and training with our dogs is something that every gun dog owner cherishes. We make memories that we will share with our kids and family as well as friends for years.
Sometimes I think as owners and handlers we get so wrapped up in the “finished product” that we are trying to mold our dogs into, that we are blinded to see and appreciate the season we are in with our dogs.
There are more valuable moments with training and hunting than just moving on to the next lesson or the game we take.
For me, and I am sure many others would agree, I am content going hunting and just watching the dogs work and do what they were bred to do.
I don’t even have to shoot! Don’t get me wrong, I do obviously like to take game, but watching the dogs is probably my favorite part.
Take time to recognize that light bulb moment your dog has when you are out training, or be proud of that perfect point and steady flush your pointer just completed even if it is not the end of your list of training with the dog.
Hold onto those precious moments you get to witness when afield with your dog.
Appreciate the Companion
My dogs are not just a tool or another piece of hunting gear, they are my best friends.
Our dogs will never hit the snooze button in the morning before training or hunting, they will never say “Nope, not today, it is too cold.”
They never have better plans at the last minute, and you will never hear them complain when you use them for a hand warmer on those blistering cold days.
Something about the therapy and connection you can receive from a dog is priceless.
When both of you can share that passion, desire, and even lifestyle for whatever kind of hunting you do, it makes that bond/connection even stronger between the two of you.
Many people think that the handler is always the teacher and the dog is the student, which is true to a degree.
We get so caught up always trying to take our dogs to the next level of training that we don’t recognize, let alone learn, the lessons that our dogs are teaching us.
Through training your gun dog and hunting with them you have an opportunity to learn so many life lessons. These include how to better yourself as owner/handler, or gain patience, control, responsibility, and the list goes on.
During those times of frustration, that is when our dogs may be teaching us something valuable.
Value the time it takes to train your dog start to finish. This can be hard especially if you are frustrated by the amount of time it takes or if you are very excited to have that finished gun dog.
Try not to waste time by being frustrated by the little things that happen when training your dog that won’t matter in the next five minutes. Instead, focus on things that have a bigger impact.
Dogs don’t understand time. They don’t know that you have to get ready for work in thirty minutes. So within the time frame you are spending training them they will hopefully grasp a concept that you have been trying to get across to them for the past five training sessions.
That being said, always remember to take training slow and don’t rush it.
When you take your time training your dog, the quality of training that your dog is receiving is greater than the quality of rushed training and your dog will perform at a higher level in the end. Consider taking your time an investment.
Time goes by way too fast, and when you look back you will be glad you took your dog’s training slow.
Step back and think about your mindset when you are training or hunting. Try to look at your relationship with your gun dog from a different perspective.
Treasure the little things that you may have overlooked before. Slow down and appreciate the time you’re spending with your gun dog.
Sadly our best hunting companions don’t live forever so make the most of every moment now.