TRAINING THE HUNTING CURLY

 
by James Crosby
1. Puppy training

When your new Curly puppy first arrives it is easy to envision a grand training plan complete with lofty goals of things that have never before been done. Or maybe you see yourself and the future feather-fiend working the next season’s incoming flights of ducks, or a skilled double from your favorite covert. In any case you have plans and dreams for you and pup, and that is as it should be.

Pup, meanwhile, has just piddled on your lap and is only concerned with having a quick bite and a nap. So where do you go from here? Is there really a hunting dog hiding in that ball of Curly fluff?

Let us back up and look at the process of selecting a puppy. First we will assume that you have done your homework and located a reputable, responsible breeder. This should be a person that has offered some sort of guarantee on your new pup, and who has also given you some guidelines of what they expect from you as the new owner of their precious stock. You have checked their references, talked to other owners of their dogs, and preferably gone to their kennel (if not clear across the known universe) and seen clean, well kept housing for well-socialized and happy adult dogs. Some folks are concerned that they must find a breeder that specializes in "hunting stock". It is at least my personal opinion that the split between hunting and "show" stock has not yet occurred within the Curly breed. There are those breeders that have a greater level of experience with placing dogs in hunting homes, and there are some that actually hunt their dogs. Dealing with a reputable individual with some hunting background will enhance the probability that your chosen dog will have the characteristics you seek. As I will say later, though, I feel that exposure and early training have more bearing on the hunting ability of your dog than any belief in specific hunting or field stock. It is more important to seek a healthy dog of solid, correct conformation. The breed standard was established with form wedded to function; go with that standard and you will have solid ground on which to build your hunting companion.

Now back to the pup. You and the breeder have agreed on price and delivery method, and it is now time to pick which ball of fluff will be yours.

There are as many methods of choosing pups, as there are breeders. Each has their own favorite. Some involve complex evaluations of pack order in the litter, some involve extended observations of the pups under various stimuli, and others involve waving bits of bird around their fuzzy little heads.

Whichever method your chosen breeder favors, listen carefully to what they have to say. They know their dogs the best, and they can try and extrapolate from prior dogs to the likely characteristics of your puppy.

When all is said and done, I personally ask the breeder to evaluate for a few basic characteristics. I want a pup that is healthy and strong-runts are cute and tug our heartstrings, but aren’t the horse I want to bet on. I want a pup that is inquisitive and fearless-not the most aggressive or alpha pup, but the one that is always into everything, poking his nose in all the corners and checking out every new smell and sight. I want a pup that is above all person-oriented. That is the pup that is going to bond well, want to spend time with you, the pup that is going to want to please you in all that he does. A puppy that has these attributes will, in my mind, be the puppy that will be most trainable and be the best companion, regardless of the role he eventually assumes.

Now, given these basic requirements, you have pup in hand, or lap as it may be. WHAT NOW??

First, remember-pup is still a baby. We don’t expect our human babies to start formal schooling in the crib, so we should not expect our puppy to either. First and foremost have fun with your puppy. Take him with you everywhere. Introduce him to your friends. Let him ride in the car with you. Be his buddy and his dad or mom. Socialize him by letting him sniff and listen and see and push and pull and chew. Let him have fun and for crying out loud let the puppy play!

For at this stage play is where all of our training is going to take place. Play and exposure are what I feel are the two foundations for the training of our pups.

I said before I feel that early exposure and training are critical, especially for the hunting dog. This is where the puppy establishes his bank of experiences, a bank that he will draw on for the rest of his life. Pup soaks up new sights, smells and sounds. Reactions to those sights, sounds and smells are formed at this time. Those reactions are critical in later training. Let’s look at forming some of those reactions.


Learning
 

Intro Puppy training

Learning to learn

Where to start

Noise/gunfire

Birds

The Electronic Collar

Testing vs training

Hold

Correction

Dominance

Obedience

Marks

Steadiness

Test requirements

 

 

 

 

First, remember-pup is still a baby. We don’t expect our human babies to start formal schooling in the crib, so we should not expect our puppy to either. First and foremost have fun with your puppy. Take him with you everywhere. Introduce him to your friends. Let him ride in the car with you. Be his buddy and his dad or mom. Socialize him by letting him sniff and listen and see and push and pull and chew. Let him have fun and for crying out loud let the puppy play!


Birds


Exposure




Jim Crosby with Soft Maple Fosters Lager WC

1997, 1998 Backcast Retrievers and
James Crosby and Paula Zimmer Crosby

and cannot be used without their express written permission


Also read

Pitfalls of e-collar training
By Jim Crosby



BackCast 2007 Litter

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