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Can wildlife chasing cause hunting problems?

First time dog owner, trainer, etc. I have a 4 mo. old GSP. I walk her daily at the park. When we get back in the woods I will unleash her and let her run about. She chases and points birds, however there are also lot of rabbits and she spends a great deal of time chasing them. Is this bad as far as training purposes?

Dove season is approaching and I am trying to train her to retrieve. She is doing well but does not always return directly to me. Anyhow, will training her to retrieve first cause problems when I start to train for pointing? Sorry if these questions are elementary or repetitive. Thanks for your time.

Hi Randall,

Glad to see you picked my favorite breed for you first dog. She is only 4 months and you should let her do her thing when she runs and chases anything. She is a "versatile breed" which means fur and feather. She will learn to hunt,whatever you want her to hunt, in her own time. Since she is so young she will be fine for a few more weeks but as she nears 6 months she will begin to get bolder. This is fine as it is a natural expression of her growth. What you will have to watch for is not letting her get too much freedom. I like to work my young dogs on a long line. By this I mean 100 feet of cheap cotton clothesline with a 98 cent snap hooked on the end. To keep it from being tangled during storage I loop it "parachute cord" style. You may know this technique or maybe a friend can show you. If you can't learn it, e-mail me and,i will describe it.

When you get to the field, down your pup, make her stay, then go through the procedure of unwrapping the line. This gives the dog a cue to follow, after a while, of what is going to happen. She will begin to look forward to this exercise. When the line is laid out and clipped to the dogs collar, blow a whistle and release the dog. She will get plenty of hunting, you will have control, she will learn the proper range, and she will be learning constructive obed. All at the same time. I recommend letting her run in big open fields to begin with so as to avoid tangling. Whether she finds prey or not doesn't matter. She is learning to "hunt" with you and work as a team. This will teach her what, when, and how you want her to hunt.

As for the retrieving, a shorthair is not notorius for being an excellent retriever. They can, however, make very good retrievers with some training. With her tender age I would keep it every fun and energetic at this time. Don't go into any serious "force" work until after a year. If she hasn't developed a great love for it by then, other methods can be used but, we will talk about that later.

As for the dove hunting, I would ask you how much gun work she has recieved. Many folks, because they don't know any better, will take the dog to a trap range to "get the dog used to noise". This is not the way to do it. Take your pup out in the field and pop off a round or 2 while she is hunting and out at a distance from you. if she shows no concern she will more than likely be okay. To sit with a pup in a dove blind and knock out 3 boxes of shells can be unerving for her. I would recommend you get her into hunting much more seriously before you take her after the doves. It will be much more enjoyable for both of you. Good luck!

Terry Germany
JC&T Shooting Sports

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