Bird Dog & Retriever News

April / May 2003 issue Page 29

 teach kindergarten children algebra is like trying to steady a four-month old pup to wing and shot. So first and last, be patient. Let him be a puppy.
From the time you bring him home, and on through his first four months of puppyhood, your pointer is very much a baby. Besides his housebreaking, it will be enough for him to learn his name, to come to you on a light puppy line, and to learn to walk on a loose lead. Whether he is raised in the house or kennel won't necessarily matter, as long as you spend time with him, acquainting him with all the different things in his world. He'll need time to run and chase butterflies and songbirds, to ruffle through leaves and chase shadows. He'll need to run in fields and to play in creeks, climbing over logs and falling over his feet. Acquaint him with a dog crate, and riding in vehicles. Many young pups get carsick, so his introductions to these things should be slow and patient.
You'll be the most important person in his world during this time, so it's easy to teach him to come to your voice or a whistle. Start by calling or whistling as he comes barreling down a path to find you, and soon he'll turn and come running every time you call him. In the yard, let him drag a loose, light clothesline around. When you call or whistle, give a gentle tug, guiding him to you. Treats won't hurt a bit ­ coming to you must always be a pleasant and rewarding experience for him. We like to use the word HERE for the come command ­ it comes from the diaphragm as you say it, and is more authoritative.
You may have noticed that we said pup should learn to walk on a loose lead, not necessarily heel on a lead. Heeling means to walk next to you, with pup's shoulder close to your knee. This training will come, but for now we mainly want him to accept a collar and lead and walk around with you. It's fine if he wants to carry the lead in his mouth ­ most puppies do. He's teething during this time, and wants to put everything in his mouth. Patiently teach him what he can and can't put in his mouth. For example, it's okay to carry the lead (for now) ­ it's not okay to encase your arm in his jaw! Supply him with safe chews and toys such as Nylabones or Kongs. Rawhides, tennis balls, and the like will be eaten and can cause problems. Be on the lookout for things that pup will chew and eat, and puppy-proof the house or his kennel.
Young pups of this age can be introduced to the WHOA command ­ very gently ­ and this command can be used in place of teaching the common command to sit. Though many trainers do teach their pointers to sit, we advise people not to do this. It can cause problems later on in the dog's field training. The WHOA command ­ for the uninitiated ­ is simply a stand/stay position taught to pointing dogs. Later we'll explain how this ties in with your pointer's training, but for young pups up to about four months of age, simply place one hand on his chest and the other under his belly, while gentling saying WHOA. Don't expect pup to hold it for long at this point, but he will get the idea after numerous repetitions.
Your pup's introduction to the gun is an important question that many of you have at this stage. We have known fellows who shoot a .22 around young pups as they eat, and have had no ill effects. We have also tried to undo damage done to pointers from overeager owners who hurried the gun development process. Our advice to you at this stage is ­ WAIT. We will address our step by step method of gun development in a later issue. Step by step ensures that an ounce of prevention will replace the pound of cure.
Another issue at this age is introduction to birds. Owners are eager to see if pup will point, or if he can scent a bird. There are some simple qualifications in this area, at this stage. You must be good at reading your pup's temperament. Is he bold? Does he approach life with

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
Maintained by Dennis Guldan e-mail
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