Dog Training: Group training vs Solo Training

Group training vs solo training There is a saying “there is safety in numbers”. In many ways this is true whether it be going on a trip, or going on a hunt. We all know that a duck hunt is far more enjoyable when it is done with a group of friends. And that if a problem does arise then you have help and support with the group. But, at the same time it can also be said that there is “solitude in being solo”. Sometimes being able to get that solo hunt full limit is more fulfilling.

This can also be used in the world of training our retrievers as well. For many of us if we make the decision to train our pups we do it mostly on our own and completely solo. Outside of the help of maybe our children or spouse throwing an occasional mark for us we do most of all the training on our own. There is nothing wrong or out of line in this method. It does take a ton of dedication and persistence to see our pup the goal we have for them being by ourselves though. Early stage work such as teaching obedience, basic marking, teaching handling, running simple blinds and all can be done fairly easily on your own. But, as we and the pup progress the more complex and advance work does form a challenge for us to be able to complete. Watching videos, reading books and articles help but still the issue of how can I does this advance work or, what do I do since my pup won’t comply with what I am teaching? This is where the solo act of training can become very difficult. Buying some of the bigger “toys” of the game is expensive for solo guys even though they really do help with making our dogs better.

Maybe, you are fairly new to this training world and don’t have a bunch of experience in it. Maybe you are an experienced handler and just need help taking your pup to the next level. This is where getting into a group really helps and can make your pup and your ability as a handler shine! If you are able to in your area look for a local HRC (hunting retriever club) and find out how to join it. The members of that club are an amazing source of information to you. The club wills more than likely hold training days that allow you to work your dog and get pointers with them. Also you can ask your friends that you hunt with that may have dogs to form a group together and all of you train on a Saturday together. Being in a group will allow you the ability to do so much more work than on your own. You can see dogs at different levels of training and see how they all react differently to a given concept. Also it keeps you sharp as well as the dog for the coming duck season. If you can look and see if there is a local pro trainer in your area you live in. Call them up and ask if you can come out to help throw marks for a day and be of a service to them. Don’t call and ask if you can simply bring your dog for them to work for free but offer to help and ask to do what you can. Most pros will welcome the help in setups and the daily training they do. In return you can probably run your pup in the setup and get some invaluable information as well. One other great benefit of working with a pro or in a group is the use of more expensive launchers, wingers and tools. Some groups go in together to purchase such equipment and all of the pro level guys will have a bunch of tools at their disposal if needed.

I personally have tried both methods of training. There is something to doing it solo that is rewarding and makes you feel good when your dog does what you are teaching. And being able to get that one on one time with the pup adds to the bond you build with your hunting buddy. But, being solo and when things don’t go according to plan you need that group to lean on. Right now I do a bit of both for myself and my dog Scout. We train solo through the week here close to home and occasionally have a friend join us but on the weekends we meet with a group of about 6 different guys and their dogs. It has allowed me to be a better handler and for certain made Scout a better dog having the regular interaction of other dogs. Plus I get help where we need it and I am able to help others that are new to the game as well. Even though I have done this for about 15 years you never stop learning!

Most important of either system is to decide on a goal for your pup and get with a training system and stick to it. Be consistent and train for what you are looking for with you puppy.

And remember as I was told by one of my mentors. “We train today for a lifetime of performance” Take it one day at a time. James Staten BTBN Pro-Staff Banded Pro-Staff Avery Outdoors Pro-Staff MIG Custom Calls Pro-Staff

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