With the springtime comes the planting of food crops as well as a host of other property maintenance issues. But as the crops are planted, the hunter searches for a cute little creature that’s a necessity when heading into the next hunting season.
That puppy is essential for some when it comes to almost any hunting sport. So while the landowner is doing their thing to make sure the herds are filling up on protein and achieving maximum health, the hunter takes on the very important job of finding the perfect puppy best suited for what sport they wish to participate in.
Although the avid bird hunter searches for the German Shorthair or the English Pointer, when it comes to hunting antler sheds it is the Labrador Retriever that still wins out. Various breeds can do the job, but after a great deal of time and research it is the Lab that seems to own the qualities made for shed hunting.
When selecting your puppy prospect, it is difficult enough to walk in like the strong, unemotional type. Why is that? Because no matter who you are, falling in love with the playful puppy is almost automatic. The things to look for in a true hunting
partner, however, IS that playful quality. You want that vivid, excited puppy that is absolutely crazy about playing with balls or squeaky toys. You want the one that chases after almost everything – energy is key.
Training only works with the puppy when positive reinforcement is given. The hunter needs that confident dog, and simply yelling or ordering doesn’t work. Just because a dog is a German Shepherd doesn’t mean he speaks German, so a special language of movements, tones and signals must be built between the two of you so the dog understands what’s being asked of him/her.
No matter what type of puppy you choose, when it comes to training, obedience is the first step. Puppies are like five-year-olds; they don’t know the rules, they need to be taught the rules in a manner that is kind, encouraging and one they completely understand. If this future hunter is going to be a domesticated house dog, make sure the dog completely understands what’s expected in and out of the house. Once the puppy begins to understand the commands, that is when the treats are provided.
They remember correct behavior when it comes to the food being given. Like a five-year-old who loves that ice cream cone when they are good in the store, the puppy will also learn the ways of the world and begin to do everything you want him/her to do because of the treat they know they’ll receive from doing it well. When the puppy does not do what you want, pick a negative tone or word that is like a signal to the puppy that they’ve done wrong. This tone will stick in their minds and they will learn what’s right and what’s wrong much faster.
Training your puppy in short sessions is best, seeing as that their attention span is not fully focused and a long session will simply turn into a failure and not a success. Once the basics are learned, the category of obedience can be set aside as you enter the retrieving training.
Fetch is still the number one way to train a puppy, not to mention scent training that will allow the puppy to understand as they grow up what animal’s scent they are trying to distinguish. Believe or not, a dog is able to smell a drop of blood in a fifty-five gallon barrel of water, so just as it is with the bomb-sniffing canines on the police force, your puppy needs to be taught what smell they must be alerted to out in the woods.
Once these categories are handled, it’s time to train the puppy to search. Once you have taught the puppy what scent they are attempting to find, the basic game of hide-and-seek will allow the puppy to search out that scent. It’s very important to note that the old techniques of choke collars and basic harassment do not train the dog. A cowardly dog that’s frightened of pain is not going to have the confidence to be a hunting dog.
Setting up these controlled hunts allows the puppy to have fun while learning how to find the antler shed in a quick and easy way.
Always remember, to find a good hunting dog is not a challenge. The burden is on your shoulders to bring out all the qualities and instincts they already have just waiting to be released. Caring for that puppy will not only give you the ultimate partner, but will also give you the one thing that’s absolutely priceless – an incredibly loyal and loving best friend by your side.