So, You Want a Dog.

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By: Lynne Frady
By: Lynne Frady

This is a new series for www.bowhunting .net. After talking with Rich Walton about dog training, he decided it would be a good fit.  Almost all of my hunting friends have dogs.  Some have hunting dogs, shed hunting dogs while others just companions. One thing is for sure no matter what breed of dog you have they all need trained. I hope you enjoy this new series  and learn something along the way that will help you achieve your goals.

Man’s  best friend, the furry 4-legged, wiggly tailed buddy you have been thinking about.  You have discussed it with your family and it’s time to add a new dog to the family.  Now is when the fun begins.  What breed are you looking for, a hunting dog, a shed hunter, herding dog, show dog, companion dog or a pound puppy?  You have a lot to decided.  The other big question is do you want a puppy or an older dog?  Wow, now that your head is spinning maybe I can help you with a few of these questions and also some of the things you will face.

I have trained dogs for over 30 years in obedience, waterfowl and upland hunting and also for AKC (American kennel club) and UKC ( United Kennel Club) Retriever Hunt Test.  These test simulate hunting situations for waterfowl.

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I love dogs as much now as I did when I was a kid.  When I was 9 years old my Dad brought home a 6 month old Black Labrador Retriever we named Lady.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven, my mom on the other hand was less than thrilled.  I had been around animals of all varieties, from live stock to cats and dogs but none of them were “mine” so to speak.  I have an older brother and younger sister but they did not see the same thing in Lady that I did.  She was awesome, black and shiny, full of herself and we just bonded.  I loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her.  I knew nothing of training a dog, but had watched Lassie and thought that I knew all that was needed from these episodes to have a dog that  would rescue me from a well if needed.

Needless to say there is a lot more to training a dog than watching Lassie, but I taught her a lot and she taught me even more.  She was wicked smart and very protective, my Dad owned a business so he did not have time to train her to waterfowl or grouse hunt so she was a faithful family companion.

This series of articles will get you on your way with your new friend and give you more insight than those episodes of Lassie.  We are getting ready to add a new addition to our family as well.  After the loss of our 10 ½ year old Nighty (black female lab) to Lymphoma, it’s time to add a new fur kid to the house hold.  This new addition will be the one you will be seeing in pictures and videos as her training comes along and we hope that it will help you with your training as well.
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When you begin do some research on dog breeds if you have not decided on one.  Also if you want a specific breed search out breeders that are reputable and have been in business for many  years.  Get references on the breeder and also see if the breeder has a list of clients as references.  Do your homework, don’t impulse buy a dog.  If you are buying a puppy does it come with a health guarantee?  What is the pedigree on the dog.  If you are looking for a working/hunting dog is the sire and dam proven?  How much money do you want to spend.  The better the pedigree the more expensive the pups or started dog will cost.  Pedigree is a wonderful thing but understand its up to you to bring out the potential in the dog.

Obedience training is the key to having the best dog no matter what it’s job.  If you cannot control the dog in every situation that you put him in, he can’t do his job.  For example, if my dog is not steady and quiet in a duck blind she will blow my hunt.  If she breaks every time a dummy is thrown she will not be a good dog to take hunting or for hunt test..  All of this starts with basic obedience, for all breeds of dogs regardless of their job.
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With  that being said lets get stared on day one when we bring home pup/dog.  There are several things you will need.  When a dog comes to live at my house it is coming to a “working home” by that I mean it will not only be a member of the family but it will be our hunting dog and will run HRC and AKC hunt test.  They are not couch potatoes, so when I look for a new dog I look at Field Champion lines. These dogs are high energy, hard runners and have to be worked.  If they are not worked they can be very destructive because they are bored not because they are bad.

You will need a crate, this is not a maybe it’s a must have.  I hear all the time that they are cruel, they are punishment and I have clients that would rather let pup have full rein of the house because they don’t believe in crates.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.  A crate is the greatest training tool there is.  You can house break in usually 2-3 weeks, it’s there den, not a prison cell and when introduced properly they love it, this is their space.

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When your bring home your new fur kid where will it stay? Are they going to live in the house, outside or both.  I raise all my pups in the house, this is where they will live.  I know this increases the bond that I will need to have a great dog and a team player.  What part of the house will their crate be in?  I have a crate in the living room and one in the spare bedroom.  The one in the living room acts more like a playpen for a baby.  This way when I cook, do housework, write, or whatever and can’t keep a constant eye on pup, she is in her crate and she can still see and hear all that is going on.  At night she sleeps in the spare bedroom in a crate this way when my husband gets up very early to go to work his morning routine does not become hers.  For the first week or so I will sleep in the spare room so when pup has to go out during the night I will hear her. When her bladder is big enough to hold all night I go back to my room.  This way she is in the same place and does not upset her routine.  I do not put my dogs in my room nor do I sleep with them.  Same with the truck, she rides in a crate not in my lap.  This way if there is an accident she will be protected and not a projectile. .  They need to learn that I am the pack leader and they have their place.

You will need a collar and leash, I suggest a buckle collar and a 6’ leash.  A collar with the plastic quick disconnects will wear and pop open after some wear occurs.  With a buckle collar you won’t have to worry about that problem.  A 6’ leash will be one of your main ways of communicating for quite a while, this is what everything is taught with.

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You will need good food, buy the best dog food you can afford.  I feed Purina Sport 30/20, it’s high protein and high fat.  This gives my dogs what they need to work.  I do not recommend this for dogs that do not have an active lifestyle.   Pup will also need plenty of chew items so they don’t chew your furniture, shoes, etc.  If you have a hunting dog I do not suggest you buy squeaky toys, this teaches pup to chew and it will translate over to birds. A routine will be necessary so they will become part of the family, they are like children and need a routine.  They will have to have a lot  of love, understanding and patience.  I start training my dogs at 7 weeks or as soon as I bring them home.  The first few days they are getting use to us and how things are going to be.  I have the privilege of taking my dogs to work with me every day, most people do not have this opportunity.  So you have to adjust for this in your lifestyle.  A 7 week old puppy can only hold its bladder for 2 about hours while resting, if they are playing they have to go out about every 20-30 minutes.  If you can’t accommodate this don’t take home a pup when you work a 10 hour day and can’t get home during the day to take it out and feed it.

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Feeding is another factor, pup will need to be fed 3 times a day to begin with.  I do not free feed, which means leaving food down 24-7.  You don’t know how much they are eating or when, this makes it difficult to house break.  Feed your pup the recommended amount, it will be on the dog food bag, this is a starting point, if pup gets fat cut back on the amount you feed, if pup is thin add some.  If they recommended amount is 3 cups a day, break it up into three one cup portions and feed breakfast, lunch and dinner.  For house breaking, pups normally have a 3-4 hour time frame after they eat to when they need to poop.  You should take pup out every 1-2 hours to pee. They will also need to go after they play and about 20 minutes after they drink water.  When you are in the process of house breaking, make sure they are on a leash and that you go to the same spot in the yard every time, use the command “ potty” or whatever word you like and don’t make it a play session.  This is for elimination only. Play time comes later and in a different area.  Also keep plenty of Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer Spray, paper towels and plastic bags on hand for those little accidents that are bound to happen.

You will also need proper Vet care, this is a must.  Your pup will needs shots, checked for worms and parasites and also will need on a regiment of heart worm preventative and flea and tick control.  My Vet, Dr. Kathy Lack, allows me to come by for “well puppy” visits.  I take pup by, they weigh her love her and give her treats.  This gets pup use to going to the Vet so she is not afraid of the techs the Vet or the office.  It makes there life easier and there is no charge for it.

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This will get you started and on your way to having a great new member of your family.  In the next segment we will begin obedience for all breeds and since my new pup is a Labrador we will show you how to start simple yard work as well..

Until then keep your nose in the wind and your eyes on the skies!

For more please go to: Lynne Frady