What importance do you guys place on training your retriever?
Several years ago, while on a duck hunt in Arkansas, I was approached by a nice, older gentleman @ the lodge. Being a professional retriever trainer, the conversation almost always turns to dogs and their subsequent training. The fellow told me rather proudly that training for his young (1 yr old) lab began in the morning. I was floored. Last year I was again on a hunt @ the same lodge and was again approached by a different gentleman making a similar statement....only, this one asked me what I thought. I paused for a second, trying to collect my thoughts and form my statements so as not to offend or drown him in technical jargon he wouldn't understand and stammered, Do you really wanna know??? We shared a drink and some great dialogue over the next hour or so and I told him that I WILL NOT take a dog, especially a young dog hunting until they are performing at a certain level. I told him that I feel there is just too much opportunity to teach bad habits regardless of the overall experience. I shared with him that I felt training one's dog really never stops. When I returned home I had a new outlook on my "gun dog" business. I have found that many, many hunters rely completely on on-the-job training for their 4-legged friends with no thought to preparation for the upcoming duck season during the off season. What do you guys think?? What importance do ya'll place on off-season training for your canine hunting buddy?? Do ya'll give any thought to conditioning your dogs to prepare for the rigors of the upcoming season?? If so, what do ya'll do to either prepare your dog physically, or to continue your training in the off season?? Finally, what importance do ya'll place on taking your dog hunting?? Is it a "deal breaker" if FIDO can't go or could you care less?? Would you rather have your buddy bring his dog or would you rather pick up your own ducks??