David Carsten Pedersen about raising his hunting dog "Mille"
A cat might like you. But a dog will love you more than it loves itself.
I’ve seen labradors swim half a kilometer to fetch a goose out of the freezing November ocean. I’ve seen them drag deer out of the thick bush that weight twice as much as the dog. And for the last month I’ve seen my puppy retrieve anything that wasn’t nailed down. She looks so proud when she brings you a sock, a shoe or a toy. And then she sits down wagging her tail and smiles. Yes. She smiles.
“I didn’t know, an animal could love you like that”, says my wife. She never had dogs, and grew up with two big black tomcats. They were very friendly and put up with a lot of stuff. But they were cats. A cat might like you. But a dog will love you more than it loves itself. And that’s why it keeps finding stuff that smells like you, parading around with it like a pheasant.
When I was a child, no one went to a dog trainer.
There is no such thing as a bad dog. But you get the dog you deserve. There are lots of people destroying a potentially great dog, by yelling at them because the dog didn’t do what they told them to do. But dogs don’t know what they are supposed to do. You have to teach them to do the right thing and praise them for their success.
It was Milles first day of “dog school”. We had been training for the last couple of weeks, but I always knew it would be a good idea to get some professional help. It turns out it was one of the best ideas I’ve had as a dog owner. When I was a child, no one went to a dog trainer. Hunters trained their own dogs and the results were varying. Some dogs were very good. A lot of dogs were not.
I think a lot of new dog owners think, that this is how it’s done. That training a dog on your own is the only way to do it, and that you don’t need help from a professional trainer. But think about it in the same way you think about shooting.
Hunting with an experienced old timer will teach you a lot in a short time. Shooting long range is so much easier with a good spotter at your side. And busting clays is really not that hard… If you have a great coach. Teaching your dog is the same thing. It all starts with you.
“The dogs brain is basically a computer with everything installed. You just have to find the right button and start the right program. But it’s YOU that needs to learn how to do it. Starting everything at once will stress her out.
So start slow and have fun.” So we started slow, practicing the skill of sitting down and relaxing around other dogs. Then we started walking. And sitting down. Every time she does something, she gets a snack right way. “You need to look at your dog when you give her a command. It creates a bond and makes commands easier”. Looking at Mille is not a problem. She smiles with her eyes as if she tries to tell me: “don’t worry buddy – we’ll learn it in the end. I’ll help you”.
Stay tuned for part #3 of our series – soon on the ZEISS Hunting Blog.
Klick here to read part #1 “Difficult choices”.