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Hunting skills are inherited in Labrador breed, but with proper training, you can turn your little retriever into a hunting dog.
The first few months of puppies are the stages of growth where they face fun, excitement, and fear. You have to instill obedience in your pup, teach him to avoid bad habits, and bring out his full potential. In that way, you can have a hunting partner within 6 to 8 months.
But how will you train your pup so he can grow into a successful hunter? Check out these tips to train hunting dogs and see your furry angel transforming into a Gun dog you can be proud of.
When to Start Dog Training?
Labradors are very intelligent and smart breed. That’s why it is very easy to start their training when they are only 6 to 8 weeks old.
It is far easier to train a puppy than a fully grown dog. The reason is, puppy observes everything he sees near him quickly and remembers it well. But a fully grown dog resists because it has already grown, and he knows nothing about hog hunting.
A six to the eight-week puppy will take almost eight to nine months to be fully trained as a hunting dog.
Training a Labrador, a Challenge As Well As an Opportunity
It is not easy to train your puppy as hunting dogs. It is a commitment that takes time and energy. Also, you have to make sure that your puppy won’t get any injuries while training. Once your puppy gets trained for dog hunting, you will have a companion who won’t ever let you down.
Start the basic training by instilling obedience and teach him socialization and interaction with other hunting dogs. For this purpose, take your puppy to different places, and teach him to follow commands like sit, come, no, and pick it up. Teaching the commands essential will build a strong foundation for gun dog training.
Build a Strong Relationship With Your Little Retriever
Developing a lovable master-pet relationship is very important. Because we all know that dogs are the loyal and obedient animals and their drive to please the owner is powerful than any reward. Spend time with your pup, bring him to a social gathering where he will simply play and enjoy. You can also buy some toys for his training that can be both fun and learning. Ensure that your pup will get along nicely with other pets, hunters, and people.
Let Him Run and Explore
Don’t take your puppy directly to the hunting grounds or the countryside. It can be scary for a young pup. Allow them to be familiar with the areas gradually and steadily. Eventually, he has to go to such areas for serious training. But at the initial stages, let him run free and discover the terrain features, and birds until he gains confidence. This fun activity will improve his predatory behaviors and body strength.
Encourage Your Labrador to Become Comfortable in the Water
A Labrador dog is known to be an expert when it comes to swimming. They can even retrieve a bird from frozen water when it comes to swimming. They can stay in chilled water more than any other dog. It is one of their specialties, and every hunting dog will face water at some point. So, you have to introduce your puppy to water.
You can set up a small pool in your yard or take your pup to the beach and let him play in the water. Train him to swim by throwing a ball into the water and asking him to get it back to you. You will notice the happiness and activeness of your puppy while playing in the water. This water training will help you reap the benefits later. Trust me.
Being a dog lover, I know an electric collar is a useful tool for dog training. It helps in solving the dog’s obedience problem, but sadly most of the dog owners’ end up hurting the dog with this thing. One should know it does not magically solve the obedience problem of the dog when you hold the transmitter. So be careful while using it so it won’t hurt your furry baby.
Teach Him to Identify the Target
Hunting dogs should know how to differentiate with animals, like birds, small mammals, waterfowl, and deer. Most importantly, a duck. Because Labs are known to be the duck hunting dogs as they actively retrieve injured or dead ducks in the water.
Teach your pup to find and hunt by reaching difficult places and swim through the ponds to fetch the ducks. For this, you have to make him familiar with the smell or scent of the duck. Practicality is important. You can achieve this target by simply providing a dead or injured bird that is retrieved by another dog. But one thing that should be kept in mind, teach your pup not to rip the bird or duck. If you allowed it, he would make it a habit, and it will be a big problem for you in the future. If puppy rips his hunt, punish him for this act just to teach him not to repeat this in the future.
You have to teach or train your puppy for nose track. It can be simply done at your home or outside the home.
At your home, hide a bird or duck at a place where your puppy can not see it and ask him to track it. At the start, your dog will not be able to track the duck because it is not training, but by repeating the step, you can train him at his best.
You can perform this training outside the home or somewhere in the fields. Hide a duck and ask your dog to track it using its sniffing skills. Give him some rewards on showing good performance. The rewarding behavior will help your puppy become a hunting dog in a minimal period.
The advantage of this skill is that, while hunting hogs, your dogs will easily be able to track the smell or scent of ducks or your hunt.
Alive Duck Tracking
Once you have trained your retriever to bring the dead bird you have hidden, now in this step, you will ask your puppy to catch a living duck. You can polish the skills of your pup by putting a duck on the side of his plate and letting him run after it. But keep an eye on the dog to stop him from running late.
Teach Your Puppy to Bring Back the Duck Alive to You
In this step of hunting dog training, teach your puppy to bring back the duck alive without hurting or killing it. Repeat the same action as you did above. Ask him to catch a duck and then bring it back to you by grabbing it in his mouth without hurting. And if your puppy, which is now growing into a trained dog do this trick well, reward him, hug him, and caress him. The more you show him loving and kind gestures, the better he will perform. You are the master, and you have to bring out his primitive traits to make him a trained gun dog of the future.
I found this really good clip on youtube that gives a good idea of how the labrador retriever functions. Not specific to hunting but its still good.
Why Is Proper Training Essential?
This question is mostly asked by many people why proper training of the dog is essential for hunting and retrieving an injured or dead bird from water. Following are the main reasons:
- The first thing is the safety of the dog. When a dog is adequately trained to retrieve a bird, anything can happen. So, the best thing is to prepare your dog in advance for that. It will minimize dog injury during a hunt.
- The second thing is the dog will not eat the bird. He will retrieve it from you. In this way, he will become a professional hunting dog, instead of a killer or a cruel hunting animal. He is your baby, after all, and you want him to become wild.
Labrador is one of the best dog breeds. He is loyal, smart, and has a loving nature. He can be trained in this way to use him to his fullest potential for hunting purposes. Dogs are more like a friend, so you must train them in a friendly aspect and instruct them as a commander when it is necessary. Labradors breed are inherited with hunting skills; you only have to work out and introduce them to their inner strength. Remember to teach your Labrador retriever the basics before starting any advanced training. Begin with some dummies, or tools like a wood piece or slip leads, and whistles to take the training to upper levels. Try these tips you’re your little labs and see how they will make you a proud owner in the long run.
And don’t forget to reward your pet at each stage of the training. It will make him happy and forever your biggest fan. Labradors are amazing hunting dogs!
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.