The importance of creating a strong bond with your hunting dog is a lifelong process that starts the very first day when the pup enters your home right until you have to say your last goodbye. A gun dog is a working dog which means owning a pet dog and owning a working dog are very different in many ways.
First you are asking your dog to do many different tasks that require instinct, stamina and a lot of training. The dog will accomplish these tasks in hot weather, cold weather, even in icy waters full of dead stumps and branches. They will need to adapt to many different types of terrain. They will go through thick thorn bushes full of burrs and wild roses.
Hunting dogs will do these tasks because they are bred and meant to hunt and they love and thrive doing it. However, they will better accomplish these tasks if they have a diehard relationship with their owner. With that relationship, the dog and the owner become a team, and the team becomes an amazing hunting machine.
So let me try to explain how you can create a strong bond with your favorite hunting buddy.
The power of Praise.
Praising your dog does not only encourage good behaviour but also helps to create a bond between the master and the dog. Try to create an environment where praise is at the top of the list, where the dog has no chance of making mistakes. Dog owners tend to stop praising when the dog has acquired the desired behavior or task. Never stop praising.
Bonding also means loving, hugging and petting your dog .It’s showing your dog that you are extremely happy with an action or behaviour. When my dog makes a difficult retrieve in cold water, I put my gun down and I praise a lot.
Be creative when training.
Every gun dog loves to fetch. Use different dummies, balls, scent and also don't always train at the same spot. The more difficult there trieve, the more praise the dog gets. You can train in the house, hiding dummies under beds behind couches and playing games.
Train with live birds when you can. When training with live birds, start by bringing the dog on a leash to a no mistake point in an environment where wind is perfect for the dog. Just like a kid shooting a puck in an empty net and celebrating like he has won the Stanley Cup.
Where I go my dog goes.
Try to bring your dog to as many places as you can. Practice the sit, stay and heel as often as you can. That’s part of creating a bond and it brings strength to the team.
In conclusion, bonding takes time, training, practice, lots of praise and moreover consistency. A strong bond with your dog will improve the trust and confidence that the dog has in you. It will also improve the relationship and the team work necessary to a successful and amazing day hunting.