By Jared Moss
Best Gun Dogs
Growing up in St. George, Utah I spent a lot of time in the hills hunting, especially quail hunting. The one thing I found out real quick was that Gamble’s quail are fast runners and they love to hang out in cactus and thick tamarack bushes. Finally, one day I talked my uncle into bringing his GSP (his German Shorthair Pointer, Mugs) down to St. George to help us hunt some quail. Long story short, we hunted hard all day and Mugs was into several coveys helping us find birds that we knocked down in the thick stuff, making sure we didn’t lose any birds and most of all, helping us find birds.
After that day I was hooked. I had to have a pointing dog. My first dog, Ladie, was a sweet little GSP that taught me a lot about responsibility. I was only 15 years old at the time and still can remember sleeping with her on the floor in our laundry room so she wouldn’t cry all night and keep everybody in the house awake. It wasn’t even a year later that I got my second shorthair, Fritz. He was a year old and his previous owners said that he was too rowdy and they needed to find him a home. At the time, I was training dogs very heavily with the German Shorthair Pointing Dog Club of Southern Utah and one of my mentors (Robert Wells) picked up Fritz and told me he thought he would be a nice dog. Robert was the owner of the famous Diamond Valley Tobey, the Sire to this dog, Fritz.
Well, Fritz and I hit it off and in the next few months we had him whoa broke, steady to flush and working birds nicely. At that time I started to compete in AKC hunt tests and in just a couple of years was able to put a Senior Hunt Title on Fritz. I wouldn’t have been able to get this title without the help from many people involved in the SUPDC, especially two people; Robert Wells and Kent Forbush. These guys took me under their wing and taught me everything I needed to know. Since then I have worked with various dogs and various breeds. I truly believe each dog has its own personality and needs to be trained accordingly. Sure the behaviors of dogs are a lot alike, but the way you apply those training techniques can be different. Training gun dogs has become one of my biggest passions.
Just the other day I was having a conversation with a good friend about training dogs. We got to talking about the training window. What I mean by the training window is simply this; there is a certain time to give a dog correction when working them on birds or when teaching obedience. This small window is when you can really teach a dog what you are asking it to do. Here’s an example:
Yesterday we were working a young Brittany on some quail. She went on point and the birds started to run on her. At first she stood the birds until she couldn’t take it any longer and she busted point, started chasing birds and was soon out of the country trying to catch one single bird (which she never did). As we analyzed the situation, we realized we had missed the window to teach her not to chase birds and what we wanted her to do when the birds were running. If we would have been closer to her, had a check cord on her or had been able to use the e-collar in that split few seconds, we could have turned the situation into a learning session instead of a goof-off session. So how do you learn to use the window? Practice, practice and more practice. That’s the biggest difference between a professional trainer and a novice – knowing how and when to use the window to teach a dog.
My company, Best Gun Dogs, is a hard working dedicated kennel that’s primary focus is to produce premium gun dogs through genetics and training, especially the German shorthair and other versatile pointing breeds. We take great pride in what we do and getting there with as minimal pressure on the dog as possible. We are devoted to the hunting dog breeds with our main focus on the pointing and retrieving dog breeds. When breeding, we make our selections based on several criteria including: outstanding noses, great conformation, superior intelligence, and pleasing dispositions. We love the sport of hunting, especially over good bird dogs. With our competitive nature, we also like to train our dogs to compete at AKC Hunt Tests, Field Trials, and NSTRA. Most important is producing or finding a dog that will not only perform in the field, but also be a companion to your home.
Throughout my career, I have done ongoing research on some of the best dog trainers in the country. There are too many to name here and everyone has their own preference, but I have learned a few important things during my research. First, every trainer out there has a system. He doesn’t go out in the field and just wing it. If you want to be successful at training more than one dog, you can’t just wing it. The second thing that I realized was that almost every one of them had years of experience. Talking with most of them, I found out that almost every one of them had made mistakes before. The first dog they trained didn’t turn out to be a National Champion. Ha, imagine that! Third, I discovered the importance of time. To believe you can train a dog to be whoa broke in a week is absurd. Dogs learn by repetition so even though there are lots of tools and equipment to help you be effective, you still have to spend the time.
Fourth and lastly, just because you taught a dog something doesn’t mean you don’t have to continue to work him on that lesson. For example, pro athletes still have spring training every year. If you learn a foreign language and don’t use it for three years, you won’t remember everything. Same thing with dog training – you can’t teach the dog something, put it in the kennel for 9-months and then take it out hunting and expect the dog to work flawlessly. It just doesn’t work that way. Dogs need their reps just like any other athlete or professional.
So what does this mean to you? If you don’t have the time and resources to get your dog trained the way that you would like and you’re looking for a trainer, keep a few things in mind. Ask them for referrals, ask about their system, ask about the amount of time spent with the dog while in training and make sure they have plenty of experience.
Well, we have just covered the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully you have gotten some good info on what dog training encompasses. I have been training pointing dogs since 1997. Whether you are looking for a pup, have a dog that needs some training or just want to talk about bird dogs and hunting, I look forward to meeting you. Give us a call to reserve a spot in our training programs at 435-421-4420. Best Gun Dogs is located in Beaver, Utah, 2.5 hours south of Salt Lake City and three hours north of Las Vegas, Nevada.