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Trainer: Communicate clearly and be immediate! A few seconds delay in responding to the dog are two seconds too long.

" is how you give the command - the tone of your voice, along with body language - and how quickly you respond to the dog's action, that is crucial."

Another fundamental you want to be mindful of is a dog's age - as to when and how often you train. Those who take their time and concentrate on what's appropriate for a pup at a particular age, experience a very high percentage of success. Most training books agree on what's appropriate at what age. You just need to remember that just like people, dogs mature at different rates and you need to pay attention to that. Don't be in a hurry. Sometimes dogs never reach their potential because they were pushed too hard as puppies.

Let me tell a story about a friend of mine. He is a good man and a clear trainer. However, he was anxious to succeed with his pup - to the point that his dog was trained to the level of a two year old at just six months of age! I cautioned him many times that perhaps he was pushing his young dog too hard, too fast, but the proof of the moment was an energetic, talented dog, showing no signs of any mental stress, and seeming to love everything about training and birds. I hoped my misgivings were wrong and he would do well with him.

The following year, my friend thought that he might like to compete. Although a hunter first, he had attended trials and witnessed enough dogs in competition to realize that his dog was every bit as talented as any he had seen run - maybe more so.

On an early September weekend, he accompanied me to a Canadian field trial. The first series of the first day was a humdinger for the two of them. This dog, less than two years old, was finding pheasants like a veteran, but as sometimes happens in trials, no matter how good the guns, birds were not coming down - and so there were no retrieves.

In the second series, it was a continuation of the first with the dog finding birds and the guns unable to oblige. Finally, the fourth find was scratched down and the dog made a good mark. As often happens after a long run when the dog is hot and tired, the bird made its get-away and the retrieve was not made. Overall, my friend and I thought that his young charge had done well. We just needed a little luck of the right kind for Sunday.

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