What's the Best Way to Cross Train My Dog for Different Kinds of Hunting?
Question: I have a 3 1/2 year old female lab that I have been primarily training for waterfowl hunting. I have also gone on several Upland Hunts and have been successful with her. I love spending time with her in the field and would also like to train her more in depth in upland hunting and shed hunting. We are currently working on cold blinds and swim by. Would it be OK to intermix waterfowl, Upland and shed training at the same time? Basically would it be OK to train a couple days on waterfowl, a couple days in Upland and a couple days in shed training or would you suggest me focusing on one and once that's completed dig into the other? Say finish her to the point I want her to be at running cold blinds and swim by and then go and focus on a month or two of Upland and so forth?
Answer: Honestly I look at it a little different than you're describing. Maybe I'm off, but from the little you've described below, I think you see it big and little picture very compartmentalized and specific when it comes to the hunting you're describing. I look at it this way, hunting is hunting. They all require very similar skill sets and at times they have specific niche characteristics. My objective with a dog it is to develop the best "hunter" thus allowing me to hunt whatever I want with success. An upland dog and shed dog are very similar in how I train and hunt them...the difference is the object they find and pick up. A duck dog handles and might require more focus on steadiness, but at the same time I want that patience and calm disposition when I have the dog in the living room and the kids are playing catch with the ball in the kitchen. See what I'm saying? I don't look at it in the micro so much when it comes to my general training.
If I were to make an analogy it might be comparing to kids and sports. Some specialize the training with kids and focus on one specific sport. I prefer to look at it like I'm focusing on developing and "athlete" rather than a a specific basketball player or a football player, etc. The best athletes can play everything and they usually rise to the top in the crowd.
No matter how you look at it, all of the above mentioned starts and ends with foundation. Foundation is a fancy word for a well behaved dog. If and when you have that, the details of the specific hunting scenarios can be put in at your preference for the most part. I hope this helps, let me know if I can help in any other way. -Jeremy