I get clients from time to time that want a dog that is already well on its way to being trained. They don’t want to go through puppyhood and all the pleasures of house breaking, chewing, obedience, and those razor sharp teeth. No, they want a dog that is between 9 and 12 months old or older and is on their way to a successful hunting season and running in seasoned hunt test.
When they come to me they tell me their dog can run a 100 yard blind on land and water, can pick up a double or triple with distractions, and is awesome at doing walk ups and upland. Sometimes they will tell me that the dog has been with numerous trainers and has some hunting experience. “Great, let’s run them through their paces and see where we are” is my answer.
On almost every occasion when we run the dog on some training drills it seems they are not to the level that my client has expected. They went to whoever had the dog for sale and watched as the dog ran a scenario and they thought this dog would be the one they had been looking for. Once they get their new dog home it’s in a new environment with a new owner, and new training schedule, and things seem to come apart. Did they purchase the dog and the previous owner had not told them the truth? Had the dog been run on the same drill so many times it knew it by heart and when the client came to watch the dog it performed like a season champion? Did they make a mistake not purchasing a puppy and starting from the beginning?
Sometimes all the above items are true to some extent, but the mistake is thinking you can purchase an older dog and not have to put much effort or training in on your end. It’s up to you to get the dog to the level that you want. It will take some time for the new dog to trust you and I will almost bet that you will not train the same way the dogs previous owner did. So what do you do now?
The answer is simple, start from the beginning. Start with obedience training. This will help get the dog use to you and your body language and vice versa. It will also let the dog know what you expect from them. Spend as much time with the dog as possible so you and the new dog will learn each other’s mannerisms.
As for the field work start from the beginning, basic retrieves, known blinds, T-patterns, line drills. This again will help you understand the dog and where his or her weaknesses and strengths lie. This will also get the dog use to your training methods.
I can teach 10 people the exact same way and none of them will do it alike. This is one thing we need to understand as trainers, we are not all the same, neither are all dogs, but what all great dogs have in common is great trainers…and what all great trainers have in common is patience.