Feb 17, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
Posted February 15, 2012
Going with a quality professional trainer ensures routine and consistency which usually result in the puppy coming along much faster. However, the commitment of resources in this case is equally as big, but this time it’s financial. Professional puppy training and socialization will run you at least $450 or $500 a month with a quality pro who has a quality kennel set-up. More advanced training goes for $650-$800 a month because you have the additional expense of birds, more help, etc.
For the hunter, an additional benefit of a professional is his or her knowledge of the right way to introduce a dog to guns and birds. Done improperly, introduction to guns can at the least squelch the dog’s bird desire or make them sound sensitive. It can also easily create a truly gun-shy dog which is ruined from field pursuits – for life!
Bird and gun introduction done properly actually fuels the dog’s desire for hunting and for finding and retrieving birds. Building a “bird crazy” dog creates the best possible foundation for all future field training. This requires access to lots of live birds and frequent exposure to gunfire at precisely the right times in the training process. If you’re a suburbanite, can you provide these to your puppy on a daily basis? Chances are you cannot, and without them there’s a slim shot your hunting dog will ever reach its potential.
The training of a dog from raw pup to top-notch hunting companion is done in segments: Bird & Gun Introduction, Puppy/Obedience Training, Force Fetching, Basic Field Training and Advanced Field Training. Exactly what’s involved in each of these stages depends somewhat on the breed of the dog and what it will be expected to perform in the field. It is possible to hire a professional trainer to perform some segments while you do others on your own. However, if that’s the route you choose, then you need to work with the pro extensively at all stages so that you’re teaching and doing things the same way as he or she does. If you don’t then the dog will be confused and much time spent with the pro will be devoted to “re-teaching” what you taught the puppy.
Be leery of any trainer who gives you exact time lines for any stage of training, but especially Force Fetching and up. Dogs are individuals and learn at their own individual pace. That’s another huge advantage that a professional trainer has over the average dog owner. They have dealt with hundreds or even thousands of dogs over time so they learn to read dogs much better than someone who has worked with only a few dogs over a lifetime.
Likewise, you should commit to not being an owner who is constantly asking, “How long?” or “How much?” Producing a well-trained, well-socialized dog takes time, but the amount of time is going to vary.
There’s much more to deciding between training yourself and going with a professional, but hopefully this gives you some things to think about in starting your contemplation.
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