I have hunting dogs and I’m wondering if your Nature-Based Discipline, Praise & Play Method style of training will make my dogs want to stay with me all of the time and not go hunting. I don’t want them to lose their prey drive.
Briefly, the answer is no, your hunting dogs won’t lose their prey drive. They will simply learn to respect all of the rules and boundaries you set for them during your hunting trips. This will make hunting much less stressful for you knowing your dogs are under your complete control i.e. knowing they won’t do anything unpredictable, dangerous, bothersome, disruptive, etc.
Your dogs will become trustworthy, reliable, and fun companions – highly skilled at what they do, but always respectful of your authority (an authority that can even override their natural instincts when you say so). My Perfect Dog training system makes for a well-rounded hunting dog. It will iron out the “wrinkles” in your relationship with your dogs without ruining the core of that relationship. Your dogs enjoy “working” for you out in the field and it will stay that way as long as you encourage and utilize this God-given instinct that is within their genetic make-up. They will simply learn to know – and obey – the fullness of what you expect from them in terms of their behavior and the choices they make.
Now, having said the above, let me share with you the testimony of a fellow I worked with years ago: He had two very exuberant chocolate labs that he would take duck hunting with his buddies all of the time. This fellow was a long-time hunter and had had many dogs over the years. He was the owner of a large grocery store and I struck up a conversation about his dogs when I was in there one time. I told him what I could do to help him improve his dogs and he agreed to give it a try.
I did about two weeks of work with him and his two dogs. He was very good at following through on the work we did, and when we were done he had complete off-leash control over both dogs. The best part was that when he went hunting with a group of friends a few weeks later, he was showered with compliments about how he had the best trained dogs they’d ever seen.
He said he was able to go out and have the dogs stay with him off leash while his friends had to have theirs on leash. But, when he told his labs to go and flush the birds or retrieve, they performed flawlessly. There was absolutely no loss of hunting drive. The labs had learned that they had to stay close whenever told to do so, but beyond that it was business as usual! His friends had hunted with him and his formerly rambunctious labs many times previously, so seeing the labs with such perfect behavior was quite mind-boggling for them!
Even if some dogs have a slight initial uncertainty when going back out into the field, these dogs will quickly learn to differentiate between situations i.e. that you’re happy for them to hunt, but they simply need to respond/comply – even under intense distraction/temptation – whenever commanded to do so.
The training will not only make your hunting trips more pleasant, your dogs will be much more enjoyable and peaceable to be around when you’re at home with them. So, have fun training. It will only enhance your entire relationship with your labs!
– Don Sullivan, “The DogFather”
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