The First Time You Take Your Young Gundog on Its First Shoot Day is Very Exciting For Both You And Your Dog.
You have spent months of training, nurturing and bonding with your dog to get to this point. Both you and your dog have been anticipating this day for months. Whether your dog is on the picking up team or the peg dog, there will come a time when you give your dog its first command. The time that follows will determine if you have complete control and whether your dog follows your instruction.
It doesn’t matter how long you have spent training your dog with dummies, how in control you feel when you go out rabbit hunting or how many private lessons you and your dog have had with a personal trainer. When the big day comes, everything is up to you and your dog. Hopefully, it will all work out and go as planned.
The first time your dog cleanly picks up the bird and brings it back to you will be a day you will always remember. Unfortunately, many times things do not always go as planned. What could be a treasured memory could just as easily turn into a day that you would rather forget. So, what can you do to help ensure that the first day out will be successful for both you and your dog?
It can be tempting to take a young dog out as soon as hunting season begins; however, you need to make sure that your dog is ready for the big day. Ask yourself if you really think your dog is ready or if you should wait until later on in the season. A dog can mature quite a bit in just a couple of months. Waiting can make a monumental difference in your dog’s ability, so it may be better to wait.
Being successful at the end of the season can reap bigger rewards in the years to come. Rather than rushing your young dog and allowing him to go out unprepared, it is better to wait. If you go out too soon, your dog may end up being chained up to a peg or even left in your car.
When preparing your dog for its first shoot day, it is best to work backward. Many people plan all of the details of their hunt and then just assume their dog will jump in the car ready to head out for the day. They assume once they arrive at the location that the dog will be ready for the shoot. However, you should do a few training session a few days before the shoot day. When doing these run-throughs, it is best to prepare him for the typical things that happen during the shoot. Dogs do not do well with last minute cramming of potential changes that can happen. Instead, it is better to develop a training program that solidifies his previous training to help give the dog confidence in the field.
On the day of the hunt, you should keep your dog’s morning routine the same. If your dog is accustomed to a run and then a modest amount of food, keep it the same. You should not give your dog a large meal that can overload his system the day of the hunt. Instead, feed him a modest well-moistened meal. If your dog typically eats dry kibble, add some water to his food to prevent dehydration as the dog will not drink as much on the day of the hunt as he normally does. Always ensure you’re giving your dog the best quality dog food possible as his well being will impact on his abilities. Finally, feed your dog early in the day and allow him time to defecate before you leave for the hunt. Remember, it is best if your departure is stress-free. This means that you should get your dog loaded in the car early rather than waiting until the last minute.
Make It Known It Is Your Dogs First Shoot
The day of the shoot is a special occasion. If you want the hunt to be successful, you and your dog to must partner together. Talk to the shoot captain or the keeper and let them now that you have an inexperienced dog. They will help choose a day that will allow you to work with your dog. The first day a dog is at the peg can be difficult and the dog should not be expected to make through the full day. Opt for partial day hunts of selected drives to provide your dog with the opportunity that he needs without trying to force him into making it through a full day.
The goal, just like in training, is to give your dog every opportunity to succeed. With a picking-up dog, you should choose drives that will allow you to train for steadiness. This set up will make your dog’s first retrieve satisfying. As soon as the courtesies have been made after arriving, it is time to get your dog out of your car. You should have your dog on a leash and give him a chance to relieve himself before you head out. Additionally, you should allow your dog to get a drink as soon as you arrive.
When a new dog arrives, he will be thrust into the canine hierarchy. It is important that you monitor your dog’s relationship with other dogs on the hunt. After the dogs have met and settled down, place your dog back in your car and provide adequate ventilation. Then join your fellow pickers-up and fellow guns for the pre-shoot gathering.
Whether you are part of the picking-up team or the gun team, a young dog can easily be overwhelmed if he is taken out of the car and left amid a sea of other canines. It is important to remain aware, especially of dogs that seem shy. When your dog is left with the other dogs as you enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow hunters, it can be overwhelming. By being mindful of what is going on, you can avoid a situation that can ruin your day.
Guns who have a new dog should carefully choose the first retrieve. If there is a chance that your dog will fail due to the difficulty of the retrieve or another dog may snatch the bird, it is best to wait for an opportunity that will ensure your dog’s success. The same goes for new dogs on the picking-up team. It is better to have a couple of good retrieves than it is to have drive after drive that is gonna end in failure.
It is best not to overwork your dog. If you have had a successful morning, be happy and allow your dog to rest in the car the remainder of the day. If you place your dog in the car, ensure that the car is locked and you have provided adequate ventilation for your dog.
Never put your dog into his boxy without giving him a quick rub down if he is wet. Young dogs should also complete an endurance test as part of his first day in the field. After you have dried your dog, give him a bite to eat and a drink before you enjoy your lunch.
A few good retrieve in the morning of the first day is great. You want to give your dog an enjoyable experience as this is part of his continuing education. Never allow your dog to become uncomfortable, hungry, over-worked or cold or he could feel overwhelmed. The first hunts are about training your dog and making sure there are many successful hunts in the future.