I first started learning about dog training when I brought home two hamiltonstovare puppies, Jack & Ben. I was drawn to hounds because of their independent nature. The breeder had warned me that the hamiltonstovare is a strong hunter and couldn't be relied on off the lead. I was determined to learn about them so they could have the freedom I thought they needed.
At 10 months old someone left a gate open and the pups escaped from the garden, disappearing for three days. After we got them back we got smarter about closing gates. I put more focus on training, getting help from trainers and different training gadgets, like spray collars. Unfortunately a few months later, relying on a less-than-reliable recall, Ben ended up among sheep on a neighbouring farm and was shot.
That was pretty tough.
Add One Trailhound
A few months after losing Ben we rehomed a 3 ½ year trailhound, as company for Jack. Logan had had the good(?) fortune of being head-butted by a sheep at a young age so was safe around livestock. But hiss recall wasn't always reliable and being a speedy trailhound could travel quite a distance. (Check out the video of this wonderful breed at work.)
I spoke to dog behaviourists, to breed owners in Sweden (where the hamiltonstovare is from) and I carried on working with Jack. I made progress with a long line in closed-in areas and the recall was getting better. We got better at keeping gates locked but one day someone visited and left the front door open. Jack didn't miss an opportunity and ended up over the hill, chasing sheep. Fortunately the farmer managed to catch him. I had to appear in front of the local sheriff, received a hefty fine, a criminal record and a stern warning about what might happen if there was a next time.
My confidence was rock bottom. I've clicker trained, tried positive training with treats, spray collars, and electric collars . I've bought and read loads of books and DVDs about training, training the recall, training 'hard-to-train' dogs. My vet practice suggested working with a local gun-dog trainer.
We made progress, using a whistle and I started to get a better response from Jack. But although the trainer applauded me on the progress we had made, we still hadn't achieved a reliable recall. It seemed that Jack would always be walked on the lead.
And a Labrador
Working with the gun-dog trainer got me interested in gun-dog work, and as if I didn't have enough to worry about, I bought a Labrador Retriever puppy (Archie).
Sounds like a nightmare...? or stupidity, irresponsible...not for the faint-hearted? All of the above? Right on all counts. But also a learning opportunity. You know that saying ' what doesn't kill you can make you stronger ?! I wanted to enjoy my dogs but it was all becoming a bit of a bind and not enjoyable at all.
In my continuing search I found Natural Dog Training (NDT).
Other posts tell of my experience of using NDT with my dogs. You might find them of interest in your dog exploits.