With a new pup in the house my thoughts constantly revolve around dog, and puppy issues. Having a new pup is quite exciting, as everyday, in one fashion or another she show a bit more untapped potential. Daily I see her moving forward in her understanding of our expectations, her manners improving nicely, as she becomes a young woman. I constantly need to make myself slow down with her training, making sure she understands each task fully before moving on to the next. and I haven't even really started anything yet, keeping our sessions limited to recalling her, teaching her to sit, and some fun retrieves. At 16 weeks old, she's still a little goof ball, and my intention is to train her in such a way that she remains one.
Truth is, having a pup, a dog in it's prime, and a dog in it's twilight are completely different things. The dogs are the same, and their relationship to us is the same, but with age comes wisdom, and a wise, savvy dog is worth every ounce of kibble on the planet, and then some.
Anyone who's raise a gun dog from puppy hood, and seen it through it's twilight, has seen the transformation. As a pup, the young dog absorbs lessons with a great enthusiasm, focused on pleasing you, reaching for approval and a loving scratch behind it's ear.
In it's prime, the dog hunts the cover endlessly, because it's love for pleasing you, coupled with it's ingrained desire to find game has opened it's eyes to the fact that you and it love the same thing. It's breeding, boldness, and brains allow the dog to learn lessons that we could never teach it. Lessons that can only be taught by the game we pursue. As this wisdom grows in the dog, the wisdom we've stumbled upon gives us the brains to appreciate, and reinforce these lessons, continuing the bonding we've nurtured since the bumbling pup first napped on our lap. And at the end of the day, all the dog wants is to sit proudly by your side for a scratch behind it's ear.
Later still, the dog in it's twilight continues to grow wiser; learning to work smarter, and not harder. It reads us as well as it reads the wafting scent cone before it, knowing the hunt is nearing it's end when we've stumbled, again, on a stump we'd have given no thought years earlier. In the home, they've become a gentleman, or a lady in the truest sense. They've learned when to be assertive, when to lay on their bed quietly, and exactly when you need them to quietly sit by your side, with their head on your knee, knowing you want nothing more than to give them a loving scratch behind the ear.