By Steven Lucius, Wildrose Carolinas
Many people have experienced being invited on a hunt during their dog’s first season. Sometimes we have never been to this location or seen how the blind is set up. And if we have, we still have questions about how our young dog’s field training will transfer in a live fire situation. The attitude you have about your dog’s performance largely depends on how well you and your dog prepared for the task at hand.
This is exactly why we do Transitional Training; Training exercises designed to bridge the gap between field training activities and actual hunting conditions. (Pg. 225 Sporting Dog and Retriever Training). The key to this step and type of training is to practice like you play. The objective – your dog should never experience something for the first time in a true hunting situation. A common saying amongst the trainers of Wildrose is “You’re not hunting during the first season, You are training!” There will be times during your young hunting partner’s first or even second season that strengths and weaknesses are identified. Strengths need to be enhanced and weaknesses addressed. Transitional training will help you and your dog connect the dots.
There are a few things that are necessities for transitional training:
– Cold water
– Staying in place, quietly in a dog hide for long durations
– Live bird experiences: flight pigeons, tower shoots, pheasant shoots
– Cold Game: pheasant, duck, quail, dove
– Working in and through crops: corn, millet, etc.
– Terrain changes
– Decoys, duck calls, spinners
It is impossible to go into detail regarding the types of transitional training for each person. While there are a lot of similarities, everyone’s hunting scenario varies. It is most important to consider how YOU hunt, make a plan and try to simulate the training so that it prepares your dog (and you) to have success.
Practice like you play….