Introduction to Decoys [Back to Training Tips]
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Introducing Your Pup to Decoys
The best way to introduce your pup to decoys is to take them out into the marsh on opening day, shoot the first duck that dumps into your spread, and send your dog through the decoys. JUST KIDDING! That is literally the worst way possible!
As with all gun dog training, your dog should never have a new experience during the hunt. We, as trainers, must prepare them for what lies ahead.
Here is how I introduce my pups to decoys; it's super simple!
- I grab my trusty check cord, a bag full of goose and duck decoys, and head to my yard with the pup
- I set the decoys out in the yard and Heel the pup in and around the decoys
- When the pup shows interest in a decoy, I will give them a short "pop" on the lead and command Leave It and Heel - I don't slow down, I keep moving forward so they have to catch up to me
- Pretty soon the pup will barely notice the decoys and pay attention to their job, which is heeling properly
Once we reach that level, which may take more than one session, I will begin throwing fun bumpers through the decoys. The key is to have the pup run past the distraction of the decoys and retrieve their prized bumper!
After we achieve this level, I will progress onto water and do the same. I'll set out half a dozen decoys in the shallow water and throw fun bumpers through the decoys.
By introducing decoys before hunting season, you'll have a gun dog that ignores the decoys and drives past them to find the downed bird. Don't be the dog owner who's hunting dog is famous for retrieving decoys! Your buddies will never let you live it down!
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