Conway Kennels has been in the business of training hunting dogs for over thirty years. In addition to the hunting dogs, Conway is the home of over 30 Field Champions and Canadian Field Champions. While we have proven ourselves in the competitive sport of field trailing, we have never forgot our roots: providing customers with the best-trained hunting dogs in the Northwest.
Our philosophy is, you as owners can throw them all the bumpers you want at home, but due to the fact you usually do not have access to land or birds that becomes our main focal point. The secret to training great hunting dogs is simple, get their bird drive going strong and then teach them what rules and standards to hunt by.
We understand that some of you may only go hunting 4 or 5 times a year and the rest of the time your dog is a pet around the house. It is your best friend when you have had a bad day at work, and the kidís best friend when they are having enough trouble just being a kid. Your dog is an integral part of the family. Keeping those thoughts in mind, we have an obligation to give your dog every chance to become a average or above average hunting dog. We certainly do not want to waste your money trying to make something out of nothing but in realizing you are going to keep this dog for its lifetime we better work really hard at not only making it a good hunting dog but also a good citizen around the house.
Not every dog is a great natural hunting dog. Just because Willie Mays was a great ballplayer doesnít mean his kids will be. They may opt to play the piano or teach school but have very little interest in baseball.
Anybody can train a really good dog, but really great ones are few and far between. In the last 30 years I have trained nearly 6000 hunting dogs and 5% of those hunting dogs you could classify as great, the remaining 90% of those dogs were just good dogs that needed a sense of direction. After being trained and hunted for a few years they became way above average hunting dogs and eventually developed into great dogs. That leaves the 5% that we can not do much for no matter how hard we try. Your chances of getting an average or above average dog are really pretty good if your puppy is given the right socialization and home life and a chance through a good training program.
Our Hunting Dogs Program
The hunting dogs are here for two months their first year. The result is by no means a finished dog but they are far enough along for you to hunt with them that first year. We do have a progression plan for the first two months but it can vary from dog to dog.
If it is an average dog with no special problems, at the end of two months the dog should be:
The first week of training emphasizes the dogís adjustment to the kennel and to the dog trainer. There are walks in the field and learning to get on and off the truck. During the first week, we provide a basic introduction to birds to see if they are birdy. If that all goes well then we introduce them to the gun. (Remember there has never been one born gun shy -- it is a man made problem.)
If all is in order we get them shot over with both the blank gun and the shotgun and start planting them some birds to get them out in front of us hunting. We know there OB is sloppy and there retrieving skills are not good but we still want to make sure they have some push before we start working on those skills.
Weeks Three, Four, and Five
If they are plenty birdy and everything is going fine we can start doing some leash work in the yard and start teaching them to deliver to hand. Their fieldwork and yard work should be starting to come together. Then it is time to start steadying the dogs for a single retrieve. We collar condition all the dogs we train, as a majority of owners now opt to use the collar to maintain and re-enforce known commands.
Week Six and Beyond
After the beginning field work is begun, the training program is adjusted based on the dogís progression. From this point forward, we want participation from the owner, and would like them to come once a week to train with us until the dog is ready to go home. This gives the owner the opportunity to work with the dog and follow the progress more closely in the last two weeks of training. After the dog is home and adjusted, we would like the owner to come back for two more workouts with the dog. (There is no charge for these two supplementary workouts.)