Getting Started the Right Way

Puppy training techniques

Today we’re going to talk about getting started the right way, training your puppy correctly, and teaching good habits because it’s a lot easier to teach the right way than it is to try to break his bad habits.

Puppies are wonderful wriggling balls of fur but how do you know which one will grow up to be your hunting companion? One good place to start is looking at the past to tell the future. If mom and dad and grandma and granddad, all have titles showing the world how well they have been trained and what they were able to accomplish, it stands to reason that your pup will be able to achieve the same with a little help from you. How do you know what his genetics are? One way is to look at his pedigree.

The dogs pedigree is a great starting place, to make sure the genetics you want are in your pup, but it’s going to take hands on training to produce a finished gun dog. That’s where you come in; you will be the one refining his instincts and helping to shape his future.

How do we start? We teach him rules. Every dog needs to know when he has done something right and when he has done something wrong or unacceptable.

When the behavior is happening is the time we need to react to it…not after and not before…it must be at the moment it occurs. Reward the right response, correct the wrong response.  Rewards can be “Good boy – atta boy” said with a smile and a happy pat, while corrections can be the tone of voice as you say “No.” Voice corrections for a pup, given consistently, are a great way to start his training.

Effective training happens when we are consistent in our reactions. By being a consistent dog trainer he will not only learn what “No” means but how to please us too.

He will soon be doing his best to get the “Good boy – atta boy!” while doing everything he can to avoid a scolding tone of voice.

Puppy Pointing
The Instinct to Point


6 thoughts on “Getting Started the Right Way”

  1. I have recently adopted a dog from the pound and he has been a bit of a handful.
    After reading your article Getting Started the Right Way, I feel like maybe I have a chance.
    I really like your tip about holding your hand up when they are over excited. I had never really thought about how my reaction may add to his response.
    Thanks for the great tip. I am going to start using immediately.
    Have any other tips to help control his barking?

    1. Hi Brendon,

      Congratulations on adopting a dog from the pound! The one thing about adopting from an unknown background is exactly that, where he has been and what life experiences he has had will remain a mystery to you.

      Barking is always a reaction but what is he reacting to? If he’s joyously jumping around you and barking at the same time, you know he’s just expressing himself and it may not be entirely unwanted behavior. If he’s barking at the door when someone comes to it then it’s typically a protective type behavior and you may want to let him bark, a little bit, to let strangers know there’s a dog in the house.

      Behavior can only be modified as it is happening, dogs only live in the present but they do learn behavior. In your situation, working with an unknown background, I suggest positive reinforcement to control unwanted behavior. This is where treating and a clicker are used.

      The clicker can be used every time something good is coming from you. Dinner time? Clicker when you put his bowl down and call his name. Walk? Clicker when you get his leash. Go outside? Clicker as you open the door. Barking? Clicker and call him to you. If he knows how to sit, put him in a sit and give him a treat as you tell him, calmly, good boy. (To maintain calmness, I use sign language with my dogs as a sit command, once they have learned how to sit. Let me know if you need help with teaching the sit itself.)

      You’re distracting his mind from where it was going so he can move into a different moment. The clicker becomes his best friend and always indicates something good is going to happen in his life. A little tip about dog psychology: he wants to please himself first and you secondly…using the clicker allows him to do both.

      Good luck and please let me know how it goes.


  2. Great training techniques for puppies, thanks.

    Our 3 puppies are all grown up so it’s more difficult to train them at this point. They’re very playful, sweet and well-behaved but when they get over excited they don’t know how to stop even when we keep saying, “No” in a loud tone.

    What do you suggest we should do? Is it too late to teach and train them?

    1. Thanks for your compliment Alice. It’s never too late to train a pup or a dog. It all comes back to being consistent in how you react to their behavior.

      When a dog is over-excited, he will become even more excited when you correct in a loud tone; it’s almost like you have joined the game. I suggest putting your hand out in front of you (as if you were a police officer) and in a very calm, not too loud a voice, say Whoa…rhymes with no. Looking them in the eyes without smiling or grimacing, keep your hand up without any other movement, except perhaps to cross your leg in front of yourself to prevent jumping up. If you can stay still it’s more effective, it shows them their behavior will not get a response. As SOON as he/they stop being so excited, immediately, still being very calm, say “Good boy/girl” and pet them calmly. You really need them to respond to your voice and manner in the beginning because you won’t know when they’re going to react in a way that’s not acceptable. Once you have obtained your desired behavior a few times you can actually start rewarding them by treats. (Treating is a whole other topic but, briefly, should only be used as a reward for requested behavior.)

      They have most likely had years of their behavior being “accepted” by you so it will take a little time for them to understand there’s a change; be patient, be consistent. You will be rewarded by having well behaved dogs in much less time than you thought.

      Please fell free to contact me again and let me know how it’s working out for you!


      1. Hi Sam,
        I never thought about that. I guess I should really learn more on how to teach and train dogs. There are times that I get really upset with them so what I do is I just shut the door to them. Hmmm … I will try to be more consistent and patient.

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