I’d forgotten how much work puppies are

The new hunting dog is finally here. I’ve been waiting quite a while for this. Now it’s time to get him ready to hunt.

I’d forgotten how much work it is having a puppy in the house. I haven’t been this sleep deprived since my kids were little. It’ll be worth it when he gets a little bigger, starts sleeping through the night, stops eating my socks, and starts flushing pheasants for me.

It’s going to be a long road, though. It’s been a while since I trained a hunting dog, but I think I can do it again. We probably won’t be chasing any pheasants this hunting season, but he’ll be ready for next year for sure.

I’ve dusted off my old retriever training books, and I dug the 60-foot training leash out of the garage. We’ve already gotten started on the basics, and he’s learning faster than I was expecting. But last time I had a retriever, I got her when she was a little older than this one is. Copper’s only 9 weeks old now, and he’s still just a little duffer. On the one hand, it means there’ll be fewer bad habits I’ll have to break him of, but on the other hand, it means I’m going to have to train ALL his good habits.

The training so far is mostly play – at least for Copper. It’s all about reinforcing the things he loves to do that he’ll need to do when he’s hunting, and making it less fun to do the things that’ll get in the way.

And I have to admit, it’s also about wearing the little dude out. If we don’t get outside to throw a toy over and over and  run around the yard like a couple of weasels on crack, he wakes me up about six times through the night. But if we do get out for about 15 minutes at a stretch, four or five times throughout the day, he sleeps through the night like a little angel. Well, at least he sleeps until about 4:30.

I’m looking forward to him getting a little bigger, so we can move on to more hunting-specific training – and so he’ll actually sleep until a decent hour each morning.