5 Things To Kick Off Your Gundog Puppy's Training

Training a gundog puppy from 8 to 26 weeks of age is crucial for laying the foundation for a well-rounded, obedient, and skilled hunting companion. Here are the top five things you should focus on during this period:

  1. Socialization (8-16 weeks)
    • Purpose: To ensure the puppy is confident and comfortable in various environments and around different people and animals.
    • Activities: Introduce the puppy to a variety of environments, people, other dogs, and different situations (e.g., car rides, different surfaces). Positive experiences during this critical period will prevent fearfulness and help build a stable temperament.

  2. Basic Obedience Training (8-26 weeks)
    • Purpose: To establish a foundation of good manners and responsiveness to commands.
    • Commands: Focus on basic commands such as "sit," "come," "heel," and "leave it."
    • Techniques: Use positive reinforcement methods such as praise, and play to reinforce good behavior. Short, frequent training sessions are more effective than long, infrequent ones.

  3. House Training (8-12 weeks)
    • Purpose: To teach the puppy where and when it is appropriate to relieve itself.
    • Techniques: Establish a consistent routine for bathroom breaks, praise the puppy for going outside, and use a crate to help manage and predict when the puppy needs to go.

  4. Recall Training (10-26 weeks)
    • Purpose: To ensure the puppy reliably comes when called, which is crucial for safety and control in the field.
    • Activities: Practice the "come" command in various settings, starting with low-distraction environments and gradually increasing difficulty. Use high-value rewards to make coming to you the best option for the puppy.

  5. Introduction to Water and Retrieving (12-26 weeks)
    • Purpose: To develop the puppy's natural retrieving instincts and comfort with water, both essential for a gundog.
    • Activities:
      • Water Introduction: Start with shallow water play to build confidence and make water a positive experience.
      • Retrieving Games: Use soft, light training dummies for short fetching sessions. Encourage the puppy’s natural interest in retrieving, making it fun and rewarding.

During this critical developmental period, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key. Keeping training sessions short and enjoyable will help maintain the puppy’s enthusiasm and build a strong foundation for more advanced training as the puppy matures