Clients commonly come to me asking about training techniques and products I use for specific situations. I can’t really speak to my philosophy without talking about products we use so I will just combine the topics.
Our philosophy for dogs begins well before they whelp. We look for the best hunting and confirmation lines we can combine. When they are bred we keep the moms in the field with healthy levels of moderate exercise and bird contact kind of like a human mother listening to Mozart when carrying her child. We use Embark DNA testing to give us insight before hand into the lines we are trying to produce. This helps us evaluate health risks, traits and COI of our specific breedings. This does not mean I will not do a breeding that has a specific non-favorable gene. For instance none of the dogs in my kennel carry the Sable gene, however a number of dogs in my kennel came from dogs who did carry the gene. In other words do not throw the babe out with the bath water. There has to be a strong reason to use a dog that has a unfavorable flaw. It is as much an art as a science for me. And I’ve been humbled more times than I care to admit. If you use embark testing make sure and pick the breeder test.
EARLY NEUROLOGICAL STIMULATION (ENS) and EARLY SCENT INTRODUCTION (ESI)
From day 3 to day 16 we do ENS and ESI. Even though pups have their ears and eyes shut and they have very little control or any independence at this point in their life there are things we can do. They even need stimulation from their mom to go to the bathroom. They are only able to feel, taste and smell. Even with their brains showing minimal function, their brains are going through tremendous growth during the first couple weeks of life. Their brain is actually quadrupling in size, undergoing tremendous chemical and structural changes at this time. For years the military has taken advantage of this period of time by creating their super dog program. In their canine training programs they went from a 90% washout rate on the pups they trained to a 10% washout rate using ENS. Take a look at the two links provided below for a much better explanation of these exercises. But if I had to summarize what it means to me I would do it this way. Through the introduction of small levels of stress in a controlled setting the puppies
become stronger and more confident in handling a changing environment and higher levels of stress and uncertainty as grown dogs.
NUTRITION: DOG FOOD
We try to provide the right balance of nutrition for our dogs whether its an expecting mom or one of our dogs on an extended hunting trip or an one hour stake at a national field trial. We feed 30/20 Purina Pro Plan Sports Blend for our hunting and trialing dogs. For gut health I use Elements Octette GI supplement and Kefir and even Kimchi. For truly intense training, hunting, or trialing I supplement with Elements Dog.
We use a few products we believe in with our dogs for additional supplements. We like Nuvet supplements for our dogs. We use Nuvet Plus as a daily supplement and twice daily for our expecting and nursing moms. We also use Nujoint DS for our hunting and field trial dogs.
We like Herbsmith Pure Krill for our dogs for antioxidants and for additional immunity support and stress during prolonged hunting, training or trialing.
When a dog eats they require a lot of energy to digest their food. In other words they function athletically best on an empty stomach. So this brings us the problem of how to have the right amount of nutrition in their body at all times without interfering with performance. If we are hunting hard for extended days or running extended stakes in field trials or traveling on a long road trip or air travel for long duration I’m very concerned dehydration and energy. So I focus on pre-hydration and recovery. I use Oasis Raw Honey Glycogen Bars for recovery and replenishment after and between a hard exercise. I try to give them a bar after a hard run. It does not put too much strain on the body for digestion but replenishes their glycogen.
Elements nutrition has many different supplements including recovery, pre-exercise hydration, joint car, prebiotics and weight gainer products. I generally use some of their gut health prebiotic products, nutritional yeast, gainer and protein for any of my dogs with digestive issues. Under the best circumstances I want my dog in a fasting mode at times of intense hunting or trialing events. So I try to add to my dog food with Elements products to add fat and protein and try and let them rest for 16 hours if possible to fully digest but be back in a fasting state. However, at the same time I’m trying to super hydrate their bodies before the activity. Elements have a number of products I use, but I recommend you reach out directly to Todd Scheuble at 612-756-4578. This will help you customize your requirements.
For gut health if I start seeing the signs of stressed systems in my kennel I will add an oz for Kefir and even Kimchi to my kennels diet to assist with digestion. I normally just stay with my regular food and I will add in some Elements’ Octette GI to their diets.
February is Canine dental month around the country and my vet has specials on cleanings then. During the year the best product that I have found for self cleaning their teeth for me are Oravet Dental Chews for 25 to 50 pound dogs. I certainly do not give them one a day but they really seem to clean off tartar and help maintain healthy teeth and gums.
For our puppies we are very serious about Parvovirus and Distemper. For years we used Merck 5 way vaccines starting at 6 weeks old. I had a fully vaccinated 1 year old dog come to our kennel. She started showing symptoms of Parvo but recovered at the vet with hydration and treatment. Then I had two other 9 month old pups who were also fully vaccinated with the Merck vaccine develop parvo from contact with her and one nearly died. Merck covered our vet expenses, but I switched to the use of NeoTech canine vaccine for Parvo and Distemper. These vaccines unlike the 5 way vaccines are focused on one vaccine at a time. They are given on a schedule along with a deworming cycle I developed from help with NeoTech to reduce any stress on the pup. Further, we have elevated puppy kennels where pups live and are sanitized daily for further protection. The founder of this vaccine had mushing dogs who were heavily
exercised to say the least and he kept having problems so he developed this vaccine himself.
I prefer the Jon Hann Perfection Kennel’s training method. I highly recommend his videos the Perfect Start and the Perfect Finish for training your pup. I also use components of the West Method used by Mo Lindley and I recommend his and Martha Greenlee’s book “Training with Mo.” I do not personally use the silent method only, but I train for the silent method and Jon Hann’s more vocal method. Personally I have to train my dog to ignore some commands due to trialing with some pros who will try to make your dog fail. Anyway, there are thousands of methods out there. These are two I use. Basically, you are watching yours an individual and adjusting to their personal pace.
For Force Breaking I recommend using the Wildrose Way with Mike Stewart. I like this method for low pressure training in younger dogs. I have dogs and clients who have done this method with very young dogs around 6 months old. I will use full blown force break if necessary, but I like to personally wait until 2 years old for our breed for that. Many times I can get by without force breaking some of my dogs, but this Wildrose Way program provides for a bit less putative method.
SNAKE AVERSION TRAINING
Where I’m located in Georgia I must do snake aversion training. My favorite snake aversion training is with Butch Nelson in Montana. The rattlesnake actually strikes the dog and stimulation is administered on the dog with perfect timing of and physical contact of the snake with the dog. In the Southeastern United States it is not allowed to defang snakes. So the training is done with the snake in a box. But we are able to use a rat snake out of box to confirm the training took. I have started doing snake aversion training myself with help of some snake friends of mine and plan to offer it to clients in the future.
GPS TRACKING and TRAINING E-COLLARS
For training, hunting and trialing I have to have a reliable tracking collar. The only time I’ve been in serious trouble is when I did not have a tracker on my dog. I use the Garmin Alpha T5 Mini collar, and I use a Garmin Instinct watch that connects and is extremely easy and quick to locate your dog without fumbling with my Garmin Astro 430 handheld. For trialing it can not have stimulation functions. So I have an individual stimulation collar. The collar I recommend to clients if you don’t have a favorite is the training pro 550 (not the plus).
BIRD and DUMMY LAUNCHERS
For bird launchers I prefer the Dogtra Quail Launcher with transmitter and Dogtra RR Deluxe control unit. Its big enough to launch pigeons and I don’t launch enough pheasants to warrant any larger. The larger one is too large for quail that get out to easy. I use the Zinger Winger Field Trialer G4 Remote Ready Dummy Launcher for duck and dummy launching during Hunter Retriever training at our ponds. It uses the same Dogtra RR Deluxe control unit that I use for my Dogtra bird launcher.
I love a beautiful well built shotgun, but I don’t have the means to buy that Purdey shotgun right now. But if you do then skip this section. I shoot hundreds of rounds training pups and hunting and I’m rough on equipment including my shotguns. I have a few shotguns including a couple Turkish made Yildiz including a 20 and a 28 gauge. I have a Browning sweet 16 and a silverwing and a few more. For training and most of my hunting I use the Silverwing and the Yildiz. I typically use break open over/unders and side by sides. They are simple and very safe which is important since I train and hunt with a number of different people. They are maintenance free for the most part. I like the Yildiz as a lite, quick gun for upland birds.
We use a very standard inexpensive roading rig. The one I use is Lion Country ATV Roading Rig which is around $250 to run 8 dogs at once. I use the Howling Dog Light Weight Harness and the size I use is small. I’m very pleased with their function and relative ease of loading and unloading dogs. If you need a narrower profile that is not so wide you would want to use a Spider Roading Rig that mounts in front of the 4 wheeler and therefore has a narrower spread. These are more expensive. The ones I’m looking at are from Tyler Dardinier in WI at 608-289-8829. I hope to add these and I can road up to 12 dogs at once.
Hannahatchee kennels likes Kuranda beds for our dogs. We like the Silver Aluminum Dog Bed for our choice since its nearly indestructible. If the heavy duty vinyl wears out we can replace them using the same frame. The aluminum frame certainly are worth it. I have used plastic frames before and they do not last long.
I have to use air travel for a variety of situations: hunting and trailing trips, air cargo of pups and adult dogs, and delivering pups home on flights. I have delivered pups to clients as a service or I meet them at the airport or have them come get their pup at the farm and fly home with pup. Most airlines require the pup to be 8 weeks old to travel in the compartment with them. However, some airlines like Delta require pup to be 10 weeks old to fly with them. Since COVID the only domestic airlines to fly dogs in the cargo compartment are American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. I have had issues with American, but eventually get them shipped. Alaska Airlines does a wonderful job but has many limitations because of their limited flights and destinations. I love Alaska Airlines though. You have to book in advance but for $100 or so each way per dog you can get as many dogs as you want to a destination. For puppy transportation I
prefer the client fly in and fly back with the dog or hire me to bring it to them. But, I have used cargo for many shipments with success. I will admit it has become much more difficult with COVID since American is basically the only option.
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