As a professional trainer, I see a lot of dogs come in for training with a wide range of talent. Like people, some dogs are blessed with more talent than others. Some dogs have the drive and natural ability that will make them good candidates for advanced fieldwork, some don’t. As a trainer is important to evaluate each dog and determine their strengths/weaknesses and build a training program that will allow each dog to reach its full potential.
My recommendation to anyone seeking a dog that will be used as a hunting dog or if they would like to compete with the dog in an AKC field event is to start with the best bloodlines they can afford. (Here is an article on Breeding World Class Gundogs.) This becomes extremely important if you plan on sending your dog out for training. You see it’s like this, if you have a one-gallon bucket and it’s full to the rim with talent, the job of the trainer is relatively easy to get the talent out – just bump the bucket and talent comes spilling out. However, if you have a gallon bucket and it only has two drops of talent in it, getting the talent out can be a challenge.
The first thing we do when a dog comes in for training is to understand the goals the owner has for the dog. We then spend time looking at the dog’s pedigree and evaluating its natural abilities to see if the goals seem realistic. As a breeder/trainer, I am more likely to give a dog with a strong pedigree the benefit of the doubt during his/her evaluation. For example, if a dog comes in with a loaded pedigree but shows reluctance to retrieve I would immediately probe to see what type of control the owner has put on the dog. Often clients excited about the prospect of a new hunting dog start working dogs early and put too much control on them which masks their dog’s natural ability. Through careful evaluation of both the pedigree and natural ability, we can structure a training program to bring out every drop of talent in the dog.
John Wooden, the famous UCLA Basketball coach, was quoted as saying, ” Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” This is a quote I hold near and dear to me in all walks of life – including training dogs.