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HPR Puppy Training so Far.

Hunt, point and retrieving pointers have to learn everything: The have to quarter the ground scenting to find game we can’t see and they have to point it till they are told to flush. After a successful shot they have to retrieve the game to hand. So I start off my puppy with the retrieving as a way to interact with my puppy before it is big and old enough to tackle much hunting and before it is pointing. Some HPR pups point already a few weeks old, but Smeagol doesn’t show much sign yet (pointed a moth recently…..), so I build up my relationship with her by getting the retrieve right.

She is very keen on retrieving a dummy outside and she sort of delivers in her own time, but with the controlled retrieve training, that will be tidied up nicely.

The Controlled Retrieve:

The first stage can take a loooong time. It consists of sitting with your puppy in front of you and he or she will have a lead on. You simply place the dummy in his mouth, but be warned: Your puppy will try avoiding this for up to several weeks. I persevere and do the exercise once or twice every day with up to 6-8 attempts in each session. No matter how briefly he has the dummy in his mouth, he gets a reward.

It is important to fold the lips up so puppy doesn’t get his teeth trapped. I use the command “Hold” as the dummy is in his mouth.

Take your time.
Puppy might resist this for several weeks.
As soon as you take the dummy back, you reward with titbit.

In the beginning you will be getting nowhere and it is just a matter of rewarding as soon as the dummy has been in his mouth for the briefest of moments.

And suddenly one day, puppy holds the dummy. The eye contact develops during these exercises. Another good reason for doing it.

As I reach out for the dummy and say “Drop”, I am ready with the titbit.

As you work with the training and titbits (always work with a hungry puppy), you will finally find that he actively reaches out to take the dummy when you present it and say “Hold”.

He will hold it for only a second at first and you take the dummy off him straight away. If it drops on the floor, you just pick it up and put it in his mouth again till he holds it again. Then take it off him and reward immediately.

After this little game is established, you can expand by giving him all sorts of things to hold including the TV remote control, your purse, a hair brush etc.

And of course you start training it all out doors with all the distractions too.

Slowly the work continues with cold game etc. The final goal is to have your gun dog delivering warm birds straight to your hand and “holding” it till you have got it in case it is a runner.

More about the further training later.