Pease demands that his dog stays close to him and any other hunters who may be accompanying them so the birds are within shotgun range when they flush. "There's a place for a retriever being steady to wing and shot, and I insist on that when I'm hunting ducks. But when you're hunting pheasants with a big group of people and there are other dogs around, whistles are blowing, and guns are going off, it's tough," he says. "It sounds good, but in the real world it's tough to pull off."
Photo: Carol McWhorter
Pease conditions his retrievers to stay close during the off-season. "I take them for walks and get them in a routine," he says. "I let them get out a ways and I'll call them back. I work on that until it's second nature for them to stay close to me. It's all about routine. They learn how far they're supposed to range and they stick to that.
"It's all about the dogs knowing the rules. If you don't have any standards, the dog's not going to have any standards. Be consistent and the dog will figure out what you want it to do."
Pease also works on getting his dogs used to fences—something that retrievers may seldom encounter while hunting waterfowl. "When I am training a dog, I get him used to going over or under fences," he says. "I start with something low, like a plastic pipe or hog wire panel, and get him to jump over it and retrieve from the other side on command. Fences can be dangerous. Dogs have to be introduced to fences or they won't know how to handle them."
"The best way to learn to train a dog is to let a dog that's smarter than you are train you." –Robert Ruark
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