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Tom Dokken’s Top 10 Tips for Dog Training

Tom Dokken

Senior ProStaffer Tom Dokken

Senior ProStaffer Tom Dokken has forgotten more about dog training than most of us will ever know, so it’d be almost impossible to get everything in one place, but Tom shared some of his Top 10 Tips for dog training:

1. Never give a command you cannot enforce. If you do your, dog will develop selective hearing.

2. There are 3 phases to completing new command:  1. Teaching the command and helping your dog through the processes, 2. Repetition, and 3. Discipline.

3. If you own a waterfowl dog you should also own a neoprene vest for cold weather hunting and early spring water work.

4. Teaching your dog to trail birds is a valuable asset. Start by taking your dog’s favorite training dummy and scenting it with liquid scent. Next, drag it a short distance, i.e. ten yards, and leave your dummy at the end of the scent trail. Command “Dead bird” and start your dog on the beginning of the scent drag. Once your dog can do short drags increase the distance of the drag. Eventually your dog will have the confidence to stay on scent for long distances

5. Teaching your dog to respond to the whistle is easy. Follow these steps: 1. Give your verbal command then follow it immediately with you whistle, i.e. “come” then repeated blasts on the whistle, 2. use the whistle first then give the verbal command, and 3. eliminate the verbal command and just use the whistle.

6. All canines are pre-programed to hunt for food. This means early on they will work for food as well. Treat rewards can be used as young as 7 weeks to teach commands such as come, sit, stay, down and kennel. This is a great way to start commands at an early age. Later on you can eliminate the treats and use praise as the reward for working.

7. Here is a fast way to get your puppy ready to chase down wounded birds: First get your puppy retrieving a bird wing. Next tie a four foot length on fish line to your wing. Tie it off to the end of a fishing pole. Let your puppy chase the wing and catch it on the ground. This will bring out the chase and catch instinct and prepare your puppy for a live bird.

8. All waterfowl dogs should learn to work out of a boat. Start in the back and with your boat on dry ground.  Next work on retrieving out of the boat.  Second step, take your boat to the edge, where your dog can jump out in shallow water to retrieve, followed is jumping into deeper water.   Until your dog will jump out of your boat into water that is over his head.

9. If you hunt upland birds with your retriever or spaniel, a beeper collar is a great tool to keep track of your dog in heavy cover. Also if you run a beeper on locate only mode your dog can learn to check in with you when it hears the beeper go off when you press the locate button.

10. Here is an easy way to teach your dog to drink out of a water bottle. Dab some peanut butter on the end of the bottle and let your dog lick it off. After a few sessions, your dog will be ready to start drinking water out of your bottle. Don’t forget to mix C9 with your water for maximum hydration.

For more information from Tom, check out his book Retriever Training. What are your Top 10 tips in dog training?

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