Common sense will tell you that any dogs you take on a shoot need to be under your constant control. Being distracted at the wrong time, with a loaded weapon in your hand, is not conducive to health and safety, either for people or the animals involved in the shoot. Most dogs on a shoot have been trained to be consistently under the control of their handler. The dogs have been selected because of their reliability to act correctly during a shoot.
What is the biggest problem with dogs on a shoot?
If you were to poll dog trainers and ask what is the most crucial command that a dog must learn and understand while on a shoot, almost everyone will answer that they need the dog to come back to them when they are called. Having a dog that’s dependable, whatever distractions are happening around it, is essential for the dog’s own safety and will reduce stress for the owner.
Where a dog is always completely faithful in returning to its handler on command, it will enjoy a much better day at the shoot because it will be allowed to be off its lead when it is safe and legal, while othre dogs will need to be held by a leash.
To understand what an efficient recall needs to be, your dog will be trained to understand that the moment you ask it to return to your side, it must immediately stop whatever it is doing and return to your side as fast as it can. The dog doesn’t need to sit in front of you or a particular side of you, but it is important that it is close enough to be attached to its leash if necessary.
Training takes time
A dog cannot be trained to accept this command in a matter of minutes. However, consistent training will gradually build trust between dog and owner. It is a gradual process that involves rewarding the dog for success so that when it hears your phrase of either come or here, it will understand that an immediate return to your side will provide it with a nice treat. The command used can be anything that is acceptable between dog and owner, but a short sharp word is more consistent than a full sentence, especially when a quick reaction is required.
It only takes about a quarter of an hour a day to build an extremely strong habit in your dog. This provides enough time to practice around 50 repetitions of the command action.
Adding a visual signal can also be helpful to your dog, particularly if the noise levels are high when you need to issue your return command. Some people choose to put a hand up in the air and move it to their side when they issue the command. If this works for you and your dog, then providing a range of goodies for successful results during training will greatly assist your dog in performing correctly at the right time.
If your dog isn’t bothered about returning to you, then perhaps the treats are not interesting enough for them to learn the command. On a shoot, if your dog becomes unresponsive to your command, then you have lost its trust. In this case, you must immediately retrain the dog or refuse to take it on a shoot because you cannot trust that is going to react in the way that you require at a specific moment, putting everyone’s safety in jeopardy.