By Jeremy Hunt
Monday, 19 March 2012
Gundog puppy: My four-month-old gundog puppy has become very noisy.
He barks for attention and has started to whine when I’m training him (I’m trying to make him sit and stay, and to be steady when I throw a dummy). This is the first dog I’ve trained and I was told to start the training exercises as soon as possible because he was the biggest and most dominant pup in the litter. What can I do?
Jeremy Hunt says: No matter how big or how dominant a gundog puppy may be in its own environment, the sort of training you have embarked upon is too much, too soon. He may have been a boss pup amongst his siblings but trying to enforce your will at this very early stage is only going to backfire.
The most asked question is always “When do I start training?” There is no safe answer and those of us dealing with a steady stream of youngsters know how every gundog puppy is different and how each has to be dealt with as an individual.
Teaching a gundog puppy to respond and to react to you, to be biddable and to develop a bond with you is absolutely critical. These are the foundations of training that can begin at the earliest stages of a gundog puppy's life. Like a child, a gundog puppy may not actually realise it is learning but it’s essential you cultivate and nurture his intelligence.
You are doing more harm than good by trying to enforce disciplines that he cannot understand or successfully execute. He is venting his frustrations by making noise and being excitable, and even though he may have been a gundog puppy with a dash more attitude than his siblings, this does not make him any more intelligent.
Therefore you should abandon retrieving and any enforced sit and stay exercises for the time being. Take your gundog puppy out into the garden or into a place where the two of you can concentrate on each other and interact. He won’t think he’s being trained but this is how you start to build up his education and attentiveness.
Simply getting the gundog puppy to come the moment he is called, to follow you and even possibly to sit to the pip of the whistle is invaluable for future training. Most of all, you need the gundog puppy to listen and be watchful towards you. Instil these basics and you will have a gundog puppy that is keen and ready to move up to the next level when the time is right.
Just let the pup be a pup, but be mindful that he must start to respond to you in a very basic and simple way. His brain and ability to retain instructions will not be in a condition to start coping with even the most basic of gundog training until he is at least six months old.
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