Puppy Update: Gauge in Wyoming

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Trying to get back into the groove with being a stay-at-home mom again and hope to get on a better schedule with posting on the blog.  I have so many things that I want to write about, but the time gets away from me!

Here’s what Sean has to say about Gauge a.k.a Male 2.1 from the 2010 litter ( I’ll post a picture to go with it as soon as I receive one):

“I have been training Gauge with Wolters training methods, and it has been absolutely wonderful and incredibly fun!  After getting the basic commands down, retrieving and pointing commands went very well.  This is the first dog I have personally trained for bird hunting, so I was a little nervous with how things would go, but Gauge made the process great!  I was shocked at how much of a “natural” he was in training!  The first true test came three weeks ago.  We have a local bird farm outside of town that many hunters use for dog training purposes.  After contacting the owner, we scheduled our first “hunt” with the idea of focusing on training purposes for Gauge.  Starting with Chukkars because of their smaller stature, Gauge did great in tracking down all three birds, holding three beautiful points, and flushing the bird on command.  Retrieves didn’t quite go as planned, but I think that was more a product of actually dealing with a live bird.  Gauge would actually release for the retrieve and then point the dead bird.  Pretty funny actually!  All in all, it was a GREAT day that I couldn’t have been more excited about.

Gauge’s first real hunt came the first Sunday of November in Glendo, WY.  Every Sunday in November they host a free youth hunt in the area, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to work with Gauge exclusively while my 16 year-old brother-in-law did the shooting.  Gauge did wonderful.  He tracked down and pointed several pheasants on the day, and even retrieved well.  This past Sunday, we participated in the 2nd youth hunt, and Gauge was even better than the week before!  He pointed and flushed 7 birds (due to an “off” shooting day by my bro-in-law), and actually chased down and caught a pheasant after a flush and chase that lasted roughly 20-30 seconds.  He was an absolute stud this past Sunday, and I’m greatly looking forward to 2 more youth hunts this month, as well as 3 scheduled hunts of my own in the next few months.  Most hunters in this area use retrievers, so for them to see a pointer in action has been not only neat for them, but has made me very proud.  I was very skeptical when reading Wolters’ take on hunting a dog as soon as 6 months of age, but have no doubt in my mind that with consistent, constructive training, it is not as farfetched as it may sound!”

Thanks, Sean!!

Book Review: Gun Dog by Richard A. Wolters


“From his prehistoric beginnings man has possessed two things: woman and dog.”

The humorous (if slightly misogynistic and outdated) first sentence of Wolters’ iconic training manual gives you a hint as to what lies in store in its concise 148 pages.  It is a starting point.  It is basic.

For Wolters, a hunting pup’s training life begins at 7 weeks.  Based on my experience with a litter of pups this year, I would agree.  I actually began working on crate conditioning and other basic commands at 5 1/2 weeks.

These are not advanced techniques.  Wolters takes you through the beginnings of the basic commands of sit, stay, come, and whoa.  There are other techniques provided to assist in bringing out the dog’s natural pointing and retrieving instincts.  The book has as many instructional photographs as words taking you through the process.

He then covers the second phase of training: quartering a field, the use of hand signals, fetch on command, introduction of the gun, water retrieve and honoring another dog’s point.

If you plan on training your own dog and need a place to begin, this is it.  I would estimate that his process takes you through the first 6-12 months of yard/close field work.  The time frame depends on how much time you put into it: the more time spent, the shorter the process.

Random aside: Turning to the advice of your local chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association chapter is something that I also recommend.  This is a resource that we did not take advantage of in the past, but plan to utilize to the fullest extent with any new dogs in the future.  Here is the list of chapters and contacts: http://www.navhda.us/chapterinfo.aspx)

Wolters was not a professional dog trainer.  He was educated as a chemist but had a passion for hunting dogs that shows in his writing.  His goal was to produce a text enabling the amateur with limited time to effectively work with his or her dog, and I believe that Gun Dog succeeds in achieving that goal.