In February, my husband bought me my very own gun dog, Rooster. Prior to that, I hunted with our dog, Browning, an 18-year-old, for three hunting seasons. Browning is an amazing hunting dog, often finding all the birds (ours and everyone else’s). Saying there was a high bar to meet is an understatement. Despite being a relative novice, I had a great support system; 2 trainers with Rooster’s siblings, several good books, and Valhalla Hunt Club. I was woefully unprepared to have a baby again, waking up at night, and needing attention all the time, so I often would take Rooster to the club to socialize and learn the next steps.
I started Rooster in training by reading a few good books and asking lots of questions at the hunt club. We started in the gun dog puppy class at 12 weeks old because he was a very social dog and ready to start. He progressed well through the course, but since I am not a dog trainer nor a professional upland hunter, I was not sure what the next steps were or how we knew we were ready. Training, just like child rearing, is something that nearly everyone has an opinion on. I mentioned not being clear on the next steps to one of the owners of Valhalla one day and she gave me access to Gun Doggin Academy to see if it would help me on this crazy journey from novice, to supported dog trainer in one quick year.
This series of videos moves you from Getting Started to Started Dog to Field Ready to Advanced Gun Dog sessions, each of which you can purchase individually or as a whole course. Each of the modules walks you through, with two trainers, giving multiple examples with reading and then videos of different scenarios of the training techniques. The videos are all short enough to keep your attention and tell you the why of what you need and how you do the techniques.
I started with this website after I had 7 – 8 weeks of in-person training once a week and was able to go back and fix some of my mistakes on my own. I spent several weeks in the gun dog puppy class struggling with what the heck you do with the rest of the 20 feet of check cord. In the quartering section, they taught you how to hold your hand and the direction of the rope and I remember laughing as he showed why most people struggle with this technique and how to avoid those struggles.
At the point when I received these videos, Rooster was already collar conditioned and with my new rope-handling skills and step-by-step instructions, I was successfully able to teach him “Whoa,” on my own.
I personally have found these videos to be helpful with the progression of training and going back to shore up any inconsistencies I may have had due to my lack of training expertise.
Having moved through both a gun dog training class and this course, I have the confidence to start and move through the process of training a gun dog.
I was in a unique position this year to have the time to spend training Rooster every day and develop the relationship we needed to form to be a successful team. Most people start with a gun dog puppy class and then send their dog away for a few months to a kennel to be trained. The premise of Gun Doggin is to save you the money of that (so you can pay for new shoes and couches) and foster this relationship between the dog and his “at home” trainer. I feel this is an excellent supplement for a beginner to understand the process of training alongside a trainer for those tough spots you may hit along the way. The most important thing is to remember that both we and the dog are hunters in need of the brush-up skills you will find on this website.
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