Gundogs: Be a Silent Partner

by
posted on October 9, 2019
gundogs-beasilentpartner_lead.jpg

You’ve probably met the loquacious dog owner; the person who engages in a distracting, running, one-sided conversation with his hunting dog.

Here boy! Here here here here! Good boy. Good boy. Hunt ’em up now, hunt ’em up. Where’s the bird? Find ’em. Go get ’em. Over here! Get outa there. Slow down. Whoa! Stop! Don’t run. Stand. Atta boy. Look over there. Anything in there boy? No, not over there, over here. Come. Come come come. Over here. Come when I say come! Here now. Sit. Stay. No, here …

Saints preserve us, a dog under that layer of verbosity has two choices: Go insane or ignore the boss. Most ignore.

In contrast, there are hunters like my friend Talmage Smedley near Farr West, Utah. This guy appears to control his dogs via osmosis or some kind of telepathy. He walks, they hunt. They return to one word or whistle. They jump onto training tables, go into kennels and wait until released; and you rarely hear a word from Talmage.

How does he do it? He listens to his dogs. “Our dogs are remarkably good at reading us,” he told me. “We’re not so good at reading them, but it’s there—the body language. Pay attention and you can read what they want to do. Reward the behavior you want, discourage behavior you don’t want, and you don’t need a lot of commands. A single word or gesture will do.”

Given the verbal skills of your average fox or wolf, this makes sense. They learn and communicate more through visual cues than verbal. Your dog can do the same. Select specific, short word commands for behaviors like sit, whoa, kennel and here, and overlay them with visual cues—a hand gesture, a finger point, a body lean.

The critical point is not the specific word or gesture, but using each consistently. Repeating a command rarely improves a dog’s response time. Begging never works. Better to enforce the command and repeat the exercise again and again until it’s ironed in. Repetition and reward are key. If Dog gets an immediate reward for an immediate response, he’ll give you immediate responses. Soon enough, no reward will be necessary, and you’ll be silent partners afield, getting the job done without shouting to alert every bird out there.

Additional Reading:
• Build a Dog with Backbone
• 4 Safety Tips for Hunting Dogs
• How to Train Your Dog to Blood-Trail Deer
Take Your Pup to the Range
Gundogs: Puppy Primer

Latest

Huntsman 2017 1
Huntsman 2017 1

First Look: Browning Huntsman Chair

Browning Camping & Hunting Blinds developed the all-terrain Huntsman Chair to deliver the comfort necessary for a long sit.

Alps OutdoorZ Introduces Floating Gun Case

Ideal for float-trip hunters, duck hunters, or anyone who transports their firearms on or around water, the Floating Gun Case calls on high-density floatation foam to prevent firearms from submerging if dropped in deep water.

Antler King’s Fall/Winter/Spring Food Plot Blend Offers All-Season Forage

Fall/Winter/Spring Food Plot Blend from Antler King provides a food source throughout hunting season and beyond, with the protein and energy deer need to stay healthy and grow trophy racks.

Primary Arms Optics Releases SLx 1-10x28mm SFP Rifle Scope

Primary Arms Optics has released its first 1X-10X scope, the SLx 1-10x28mm SFP Rifle Scope, which comes with a choice of two ACSS reticles.

Best Bullets for Black Bear

Hunting black bear in the near future? Before you select your bullet, read on for some in-depth research by contributor Aaron Carter.

Ruger Reintroduces the Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun

Ruger has announced the reintroduction of the Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun. Formerly known as an “1895 GBL” (Guide Big Loop), this model is Ruger’s first reintroduction in the Guide Gun family of rifles and Ruger’s first introduction of an alloy steel Marlin rifle with a blued finish.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.