Good hunting dogs typically have high prey drives and because of that can usually overcome our shortcomings as amateur trainers/handlers. The dog’s drive to find/retrieve birds keeps him hunting when heavy-handed or mis-timed corrections, or, worse yet, no formal foundation training takes place, so that he, and you, can still be successful in the field.
A formal, step-wise training program that starts with a foundation and takes you through transition stages to finished-level dog work serves many purposes.
Good training programs give you a definitive starting point and direction to start your puppy with and it builds from those early introductions.
Good training programs also provide you with a building block of exercises. Each lesson, once the pup grasps it, builds upon the next.
Good training programs, because they build upon previously learned exercises, always give you a place to go back to if you run into trouble. If your pup starts breaking down and struggling with one lesson, you can step back to the last lesson he was successfully running. When dogs struggle it’s usually because they don’t understand what we’re asking. A formal program ensures that a dog learns what we’re asking of it before he’s put into a position to be held responsible for that behavior.
Good training programs instill a solid foundation of understanding, trust, positive experiences and introductions. They all incorporate yard work into the foundation as a way to make those early lessons easy to absorb and keep distractions to a minimum.
Good training programs don’t jump around in the learning process. They teach (and teach, teach and teach some more) many small things together and then incorporate those small steps together to form a complex task.
Good training programs begin with the end in mind. They take into consideration what the finished product will be required to do and then work backwards from there.
Good training programs are worth every cent you pay for a book, DVD, seminar and in blood, sweat and tears (the last three will undoubtedly be reduced with a good training program). They will keep you on track and keep your dog’s training from having holes in it and will keep “the wheels from coming off.”
While they might seem to incorporate too many small steps at times, and even take too long to get to “the fun stuff,” good training programs save you time and money in the long run. If you go about your training willy-nilly, you will more than likely have to go back and untrain what your dog has learned and then retrain what you actually need him to know. That will take twice as long as doing it right the first time, regardless of the number of small steps or repetitions.
Go find a good training program for the discipline you wish to take part in with your dog. Any good training program. It’s worth it.