Myths Exposed

There are a number of misunderstandings surrounding the applicability of positive, rewards-based training methods for serious hunting dogs. After all, traditional methods enjoy almost exclusive mindshare and have gone virtually unchallenged for decades.


Our goal is certainly not to speak ill of traditional trainers (for we once trained dogs using traditional methods as well!). Rather, we would like to promote a viable alternative — oe we believe ultimately is more humane, as effective, typically faster and a lot more fun.


Here is our take on some common myths surrounding gun dog training.


FALSE: Dogs trained with positive, reward-based systems will only perform for food.TRUE: Food is only used in the beginning stages of training, and dogs are systematically weaned from food-based rewards. Ultimately, the dog performs because he respects his owner, and because hunting, retrieving and having feathers in his mouth are the ultimate reward.
FALSE: "Forced fetch" training is necessary to ensure the dog will perform under harsh conditions or at a distance.TRUE: A dog can be trained to retrieve birds under virtually any conditions with positive training, drive development, and distraction work. In fact, using positive methods, even a dog lacking in retrieving drive can be taught more quickly to be a reliable, enthusiastic retriever than a similar dog trained with aversive methods.
FALSE: The traditional method of training gun dogs is the best because it has been field tested and proven for decades.TRUE: In nearly every high-performance dog sport, positive training methods have made impressive in-roads. But the marketing machine that popularizes shock collars, choke chains and other aversive gadgetry and techniques has a huge head-start on positive gun dog training. To be sure, traditional gun dog training methods work well. But the same positive techniques used in other high-performance dog sports can certainly be applied to gun dog training with great results. Our goal is to demonstrate there is a viable alternative to punishment-based training methods.
FALSE: The fact that all field trial and hunt test champions are traditionally trained proves that traditional methods are superior.TRUE: Since it has not been around as long, positive gun dog training has not (as far as we know) made its debut in field trials and hunt tests. The FetchMasters Positive Gun Dog Training Program is actively building and training a hunt test team to prove that positively trained dogs can perform alongside of traditionally trained gun dogs.