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Puppy Training - (Part 1) Too Much Too Soon-Too Little Too Late

Posted on December 26, 2016 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (18445)

One of the most exciting times in a dog owner's life, is the day that furry, sweet, cute, cuddly, stick of dynamite comes home. At this point, the owner faces two paths in the future. 1) A wonderful bond, years of happiness and joy, the fulfilling of great expectations, or 2) the start of a frustrating, frequently disappointing, and realization that expectations will not be met. The latter oftentimes leaving the dog alone or even surrendered to a shelter.

Many people, and clients that we deal with, immediately want a few thins from their new puppy: How soon they can steady the dog, how soon they can shoot around the dog, how soon they can introduce it to live birds, and the best of all, how soon can I hunt the dog?

First we will look at = Too Much Too Soon

1.) Steadying a puppy or young dog: Though there are books and videos that trainers, friends that will tell you the sooner you steady the dog the better to dissuade breaking later, I believe this is one of the biggest mistakes made with a puppy or young dog. Everyone wants to see a dog that retrieves with class, style, and all the gusto it can muster. But this is of ten times squashed at a young age by steadying too soon, and oftentimes lead to a refusal to retrieve all together as it matures. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule. But when you have one dog, limited time, and essentially one chance to get it right, you don't have room for experimenting.

At Gunnerbrae Kennels, we get our puppies at 7 weeks of age and at that time we begin passive or what we refer to as play training. We will allow the puppy about 3 retrieves a day while on a walk in the field, using a paint roller. We will get the puppy as excited as possible before tossing the roller only a few feet away. As the puppy retrieves, we will praise and encourage while also beginning to use our whistle for recall. This basic drill will continue daily over the next 2-3 weeks, building as much drive and fun into it as possible while always making sure the puppy succeeds. At Gunnerbrae, we do not believe in chew toys of any kind, so at this point the puppy will only have the paint roller to retrieve. We believe this is best for it's over all style and drive while also promoting good mouth habits early.


The Gunnerbrae Way

Posted on April 24, 2016 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (2307)

    Positive Reinforcement.  The definition of Postive Reinforcement is, "a very powerful and effective tool to help SHAPE and CHANGE behavior.  Positive Reinforcement works by presenting a motivating item to the person (dog) after the desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to happen in the future."

    At Arkansas Duck Dogs and Gunnerbrae Kennels, we base our programs off of the main two words, SHAPE and CHANGE behaviors.  Our main focus is to SHAPE wanted behaviors, and CHANGE unwanted behaviors.  Our desire at Gunnerbrae is to bring out the best in the dog, but also, enjoying its time in and outside of training.  We believe that this accelerates the learning process, while also keeping the drive, style, class, and performance that we desire to see.

Can't or Won't

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (3386)

    In dog training, one of the most critical aspects of training, is the ability to be able to read the dog.  And in reading the dog, one of the most critical aspects, is to understand whether or not a dog can't or won't perform a task or skill.  "Our corrections in training are for a lack of effort, not a lack of ability, and this is fundamental."-Mike Lardy

    Until this basic fundamental principle is fully understood, there is no amount of force or coercion that can be applied to make the dog perform a task or skill set.  As trainers, we all know that the dog must have bounderies, and must know what is a wanted behavior and what is an unwanted behavior.  But before this can happen, the dog must fully understand what it is doing wrong, and how to correct that behavior to make it right (desired vs undesired behavior.)

    In training we are constantly setting bounderies and expectations, and these set of standards let the dog know clearly that a wanted behavior brings pleasure, while an unwanted behavior brings the opposite.  But, before any correction can be applied, we must first understand and read the dog on whether or not it can't or simply won't perform a task that is asked of it.  If the dog can't, then we as trainers must back up and reevaluate what we are doing that has brought this on.  We must be willing to take a few steps back in the process, and link things together so the dog can fully understand and move forward.  Likewise, if the dog just simply won't, then we must apply a correction in a calm and proper manner, that neither damages the dogs confidence, or hinders its progress in any way.  The failure on our part to do this, can bring on a distrust in the dog for us, and ultimately hinder its progress and success in training.