After all of the preparation, today is the day that you will get to meet your hunting dog. Depending on your circumstances you may be driving to the breeder, or like me, you may pick up your pup from an airport. Either way you should come prepared with water, food (amount depends on your trip), paper towels, collar, and a leash. From this point on, everything you do is conditioning your hunting dog for good or bad behavior.
I would like to formally introduce Loki, my wirehair pointing griffon. After I picked up Loki from the cargo facility at the airport (example of what to expect when shipping a dog), the first thing I did was look for somewhere I could “break” (term used to describe walking for a bathroom break and leg stretch) him. It was a long flight and I wanted to make sure that Loki had a chance to empty out, drink a little water, and most importantly, meet me. We stayed there until he went to the bathroom.
As I prepared to leave, I wanted to begin some modular training with Loki. When I got him to the back of my truck, I used the command Kennel (using the command tone) as I lifted him into his crate. You can use any command word you chose, but once chosen, you need to stay consistent and use the same word every time. He may whine and give you the “puppy-dog” look, but eventually he will realize he rides in his crate. If you break down and take him out of the crate, he will learn he can make you do things if he whines.
Once we arrived at the house, I attached his leash and collar to restrain him from running out of the crate. Once he realized he had to stay put, I then used the command come (again using the command tone), and gently pulled with my leash to lead him out of the crate. I then picked him up (don’t let puppies jump from tailgates as they could be injured) and lead him to where I wanted him to use the bathroom. We stayed there until he went to the bathroom. When finished, I made sure to praise him (using the high-happy tone) and gave him a good pat.
I cannot over emphasize the importance of using good voice tones. Every thing the dog does that pleases you needs to be praised. Conversely, anything considered overtly bad needs to be corrected. Think like a mother baby-talking her child, “good boy Loki, you went potty, good boy”. It feels silly, however your dog will understand that what he did made you happy, and that will make him happy. When making a correction remember to use the low-growling, deeper voice, “No Loki”.
Don’t overdo corrections, or negative voice tones at this point. Remember your pup is currently going through the most traumatic event(s) of his or her life. He has been separated from his siblings, mother, and everything familiar. During these first few days he needs plenty of attention and affection. Once you notice his comfort level rising you can slowly incorporate more conditioning.
Next article we are going to get more into conditioning. Specifically, daily house and yard conditioning. Unfortunately, we are going to need to wait a bit before starting bird training. Just remember, the act of conditioning successfully will only make it easier to train for birds later. In my opinion, these first few weeks are some of the most important. Don’t worry- soon you will have a hunting partner you can count on.
Quick Tip: If you leave it on the floor, your pup will chew it. Be responsible and remove situations that will force you to make corrections (example: put shoes in a closet). You are as much at fault as your pup if those shoes get chewed on. Only correct behaviors that must be stopped. If your pup is whining or doing something unpleasant that isn’t destructive, ignore him. Negative attention is still attention and it is something that he can develop into using to control you. Remember, your dog doesn’t dictate your behavior.