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Episode 22: Teaching patience in blind or dog box

Drew: Hi, I'm Drew Keeth with Honey Brake, here today with good friends Joe Perron from Champion Retrievers and Steve Snell from Gun Dog Supply. Today we're going to talk about patience in a dog and why that's important in a duck blind.

Joe: Teaching patience starts when your puppies are really young...

Teaching patience is very important. I take their food bowls and I put it down, and I make them sit before I let them get to their food bowl. At the beginning you want to start with a very short time and extend it as his patience progresses.

Steve: Teaching patience is important from the standpoint that it's not something that's natural for a dog. And so, you need to build it up starting with the puppy and then working up, and you need to incorporate it into your training. The biggest thing that a lot of folks don't factor in is that when you're going out to duck hunt, you've got to set up decoys. You've got to get everything in place before you can start and you've got a limited amount of time to do that, and the last thing you need is an unruly dog swimming around and getting in the way. He needs to know where to get and how to stay there. And then he needs to be ready to sit for whatever period of time it takes. That can be hours.

Drew: The ducks don't fly, you need to be able to sit there and still enjoy yourself.

Steve: Exactly. And he needs to learn to do that, and that takes time. You can't take a dog that's not used to it and stick him in a duck blind and expect to be successful.

Drew: That's the beginning stages for sitting up and honoring for more advanced hunting. We have different clients that come that want to bring their dogs. Our dogs all honor, so they'll be able to do that.

Joe: Yeah. They have to sit there while another dog is going to get a duck.

Drew: And that's your Honey Brake gun dog tip of the week.

An anxious dog when ducks are landing could make the ducks fly back.

Drew: One thing we talked about earlier that's overlooked a lot of times is the non-retrieve. Your dog does not have to go get every bird that's out there.

Joe: That's right. They're not all for him to retrieve.

Drew: That's exactly right. And that goes into steadiness like we talked about.

Steve: That's something that you have to teach. You can't just expect a dog to learn that on his own. Most one-dog owners have a tendency to let their dog pick up every mark that they see. You end up with a dog that thinks just because he sees something fall it's his to pick up. That's not the case.

Joe: And whenever they're young we try to build up their drive. And so, really, we're actually trying to pull it down.

Drew: Talking about throwing the decoys out and picking them back up, I had a buddy who every time he'd throw a duck out, a decoy, the dog would go get it and bring it back. He's like, "I don't remember bringing this many decoys out!" That'd be a good time to teach patience right there.

And that's your Honey Brake gun dog tip of the week.

Patience is a factor that tends to make everything else in the duck blind flow much more smoothly. A dog with patience has a positive ripple effect on the rest of your experience in the duck blind. Really, one without patience has a negative ripple effect on everything else you do in the blind. Without a dog that is content with waiting, it will be hard to prepare everything for training and hunting sessions. Realistically, it takes time to get to the blind, gather up your decoys, and begin sitting them out in the proper places. When you are restricted on time, it can be very inconvenient trying to set out decoys when your dog is antsy and becoming uncooperative. To combat this problem you need to train your dog so he knows exactly where he should sit, no matter how long you want him to stay there. Your dog always needs to understand that when you say “stay”, he should stay regardless of the amount of time it takes for you to accomplish what you are doing. Patience is one of the greatest qualities you can possess as a hunter. A majority of your time spent hunting is waiting on a good shot. Sometimes you don’t even get the chance to take a shot, and if no ducks fly while you are in the blind, your dog needs to understand how to sit there and be happy about it. In addition, ducks that are flying in could get spooked if they notice your dog because he is anxious or distressed. Patience is a necessity your dog needs to learn and embrace.

Your dog showing patience develops the beginning stages of sitting up and honoring for more advanced training. For a dog to begin “sitting up” means that it sits when a bird rises or when a gun is shot. You need your dog to be at attention should a bird go flying or a gun be fired, but you also need him to stay steady until you give the command. That is what sitting up is all about. Honoring, however, is just as important at sitting up. When you’re hunting with friends and their dogs, it is crucial for your dog to honor. Honoring means that when another dog heads off to get his owner’s kill, your pup sits still and lets the other dog retrieve the bird. There’s no way for you and your dog to get every duck that flies in, and it is not fair for other hunters and their dogs when you have a k-9 that fights to get every retrieve. A lot of hunters are strictly “one-dog owners”, and they tend to make the common mistake of letting their dog pick up every mark. When that happens, you produce a dog that thinks every time he sees something fall it is his job to pick it up. Patience is imperative to teaching your young dog the non-retrieve and to sit up and honor. Learning these things will require your dog being trained from a young age.

Beginning training as early as possible in your dog’s life is important because patience does not come easily to puppies. Training patience is taught and goes against a dog’s nature. A dog’s instinct is to do as he pleases, whether it is getting food as soon he sees it, chewing up a shoe, or peeing on a tire. You must teach them otherwise to expect them to act otherwise. Patience must truly be a learned skill for your dog. The reason it is such a job to teach a dog patience when he is older is because if he has learned to do as he pleases, instead of doing as you have instructed him to, it is pretty hard to break the habit. The faster and more fully he comprehends patience as a puppy, the easier it will be for your puppy to follow through and carry this tool into adulthood.

One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate the training into feeding time. Command your puppy to sit, fill his food bowl, and then sit it down in front of him. Make the puppy wait before he is allowed to step forward and eat out of the bowl. Begin only making him wait a short time (seconds). When your puppy has gotten the hang of waiting (“stay”, “sit”, or however you teach it) on command, you can increase the amount of time you make him sit still. Increase the amount incrementally and always be smart about how much time you expect your pup to stay still. It is unrealistic to tell your dog to stay for the first time and expect him to sit there calmly for several minutes. It takes time, practice, dedication, and patience on your part to train your dog patience.

Patience will take constant work from your dog and also the same amount of work from you as the trainer. You must learn and radiate patience when you are trying to train a dog, regardless of the command. However, especially when training patience you must possess patience. Like any other area of training, it is a learning process and can take a long time for your dog to learn. So, take your time, be consistent, and give your dog the time he needs to learn what it takes to be patient in a duck blind.

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