“Sprig,” my now 7-month-old English cocker spaniel, is showing promise as a hunter. She’s happily retrieving on both land and water, gets crazy about birds and has been introduced to gunfire. She’s also, unfortunately, been working on the art of selective hearing (which she learned with help from her master), which has left said master exasperated.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about dog training in this brief time period, it’s that you need an overwhelming amount of patience. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in the last half year, it’s that patience is a virtue of which I’ve not acquired the requisite amount.
I imagine this is a crossroads many first-time dog owners reach. With the puppy varnish wearing off, the enormity of the commitment settling in and having hit the first few “bumps in the road,” that feeling that “I can’t do this” can creep in – I know it did for me. So what to do?
Don’t give up. That’s one of The Golden Rules of Dog Training. In fact, this simple little list from SportDOG is one I’ve visited countless times over the last two weeks. That was also the message I received from “Sprig’s” breeder, a high-level trainer himself. “Don’t give up, and go back to the basic building blocks. You can always go back to the basics.”
Since my pup ownership’s midlife crisis, and following The Golden Rules, “Sprig” has shown remarkable improvement. It’s going to be a fun summer…and a better fall…
What’s your “Golden Rule” of dog training?
Read more in the “My First Bird Dog” series here.
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.