For many, setting out to start training your first dog can be an intimidating experience. Whether your goal is to make it a career, or you’re just looking for a good hunting partner, there can be a lot of insecurities and doubt in taking the first step. Below are a few steps to remove the pressure and help you and your dog get more enjoyment out of the experience.
Relax- You’re not perfect. Your dog is not perfect. We know, you’re both amazing specimens of the human and canine variety, but everyone makes mistakes. Know, accept, and embrace that going in. Mistakes are a good thing. You will learn more from missteps along the way than you do from getting it right every time. Go in knowing that and don’t beat yourself or your dog up over the mistakes. Just learn from them and move on. You’ll laugh at these later.
Be Patient-Rome was not built in a day; you’re perfect hunting partner won’t be either. Don’t try to
push too hard too fast. You will not be doing yourself or your dog any favors. While it’s tempting to get out training hours a day to get to the finish line faster, don’t. Your dog will learn and retain better with 15 minute sessions. Just a couple per day will do the trick. This is a marathon. Not a sprint.
Have Fun- If you’re not enjoying, why are you doing it? Yes, the purpose of dog training is to get a great hunting partner, trial dog, or just good house pup, but the journey of getting there should also be enjoyable. This is a great time for you and your dog to bond. Have some fun, laugh. Don’t get so focused on the final product that you miss the experience.
Use Your Resources- There is no shame in admitting you need help. People have been training dogs for centuries, so there is probably a lot of information available for any problem you might be facing. Check out trainers in your area, books, local hunting clubs, buddies…and, of course, we are always here to answer your questions, and we have a HUGE community of ProStaffers to help out with anything we can’t.
Brag- Yes, you read that right. Brag. This is not to say that you need to bombard your friends, family, and hunting partners with tales of how awesome you and your dog are, but do share exciting news with them. Did your dog pick up a skill super quickly? Did you figure out a new method to teach him something he was struggling with? Let people know. You and your dog are doing awesome things. Reinforce your confidence in both of you by sharing victories with others.
Apply these simple steps and hopefully you and your pup will be able to calm down and just enjoy training. Have any more tips of your own? Let us know.