Seeing little puppies on point is definitely exciting but that cute stance is just the beginning. Developing puppies into a top-notch hunting dogs or finished field trial performers will take years. The paramount time for that development is during the first few months of life.
Our goal is to raise happy, healthy, well-balanced puppies. Over the years, Jerry and I have developed a program that works. At a minimum, we feel puppies need:
• mental and physical stimulation
• exercises and introductory training to develop their natural instincts
• exposure to different situations, people and dogs
We also provide structure, stability and consistent rules. Equally important, though, we want them to enjoy life and have fun.
Detailed below are some of our puppy development and training ideas.
Time in the exercise pens
Ample time in our exercise pens allows the puppies to play and to rest at their choosing. We believe this freedom develops a physically sound dog with a calm, well-adjusted mental disposition. They also learn the invaluable lesson of how to interact with other dogs.
We put our puppies on a barrel where they learn to stand still with confidence. They love this exercise because they have our full attention and receive lots of praise through touching.
We encourage puppies to retrieve because they’re at a stage when they really want to please. Starting with a retrieving dummy we progress to freshly killed birds. A few retrieves two or three times a week is plenty and we always praise them lavishly when they bring the dummy or bird back.
Time on a stakeout chain
Especially when puppies are young and getting used to wearing a collar, we clip them to stakeout chain. They learn to give in and to be comfortable with restraint. They all struggle at first—some more than others—but all eventually do relent and relax.
We gang run puppies from foot at eight weeks and later introduce them to group runs from four-wheeler as the next level in physical exercise. During these runs we also teach them to turn on a whistle, run to the front and handle to our voice.
Swimming and finding water
On our gang runs we swing by ponds. Not only do the puppies learn to swim (they follow May, our Labrador retriever) but they learn to cool off and drink. This method teaches them independence to find water on their own.
Some Simple Commands
We introduce preliminary commands such as HERE, KENNEL, and call their NAME using pieces of wieners as rewards. This encourages puppies to obey simple commands and create a positive association with people.