Dog Training Philosophy
Our training philosophy is based on several levels of training that leverage the dog’s physiological make-up as a pack animal to get the results we need. The foundation is comprised of proper exposure to game birds coupled with sound priciples of obedience.
At a very young age, we introduce the dog to birds and the gun. We also start basic obedience utilizing clicker training. After this proper introduction, we begin collar conditioning and formal obedience in the yard and in the field. After adding patterning (proper use of the wind) and advanced training (steady-to-wing-and-shot), we end up with a finished dog that your friends will be honored to hunt over.

To have a finished dog, there are three primary stages of training.
Exposure to Birds
The heart and soul of our gun dog training is birds. As a gundog owner, the most important thing your dog must do is FIND BIRDS. No other training matters if your dog can’t find birds. Owners must understand how important proper exposure to birds is at a young age.
We do not hunt with “bumper dogs,” “dummy dogs,” “tennis ball dogs” or any other dog. We hunt with bird dogs. This may sound simple enough, but most people think their dog gets enough exposure to birds through the few they see hunting. They don’t.

How important are birds at Craney Hill? We don’t care if our dog sits, stays, comes, heels or kennels if it does not find birds. If a dog does not have the genetic ability to find birds, it will not make our team. We’re not talking about finding birds at the local hunt club. We’re talking about the wild rooster, grouse and woodcock that the coyote, hawk and other varmints have missed.

With proper introduction to birds in the training field, we can properly introduce the dog to gunfire. Then we’re able to shoot birds over the dog. After that we can expose the dog to a season of hunting for grouse, woodcock and wild pheasants. This creates a bold and aggressive hunting dog that is ready to handle the pressures of formal training that follow.
Yard Work
Once the bird work and the gun introduction are in place, you can hunt and shoot birds over the dog. While the foundation was being built, we were molding the dog's behavior for obedience utilizing a clicker and treats. Now formal training begins in the form of yard work. This involves collar conditioning and basic obedience. The dog is trained to comply with basic sit/hup, kennel and here commands. We’ll work on this in the yard until compliance is achieved the first time the command is given. Why? Because we’ve all seen the alternative.

How many times have you been hunting and in the field next to you it sounds like a shouting match with the dog or a band marching through the field with a bunch of whistles? We do not give commands in the field until we have compliance in the yard. No exceptions. We then transfer the commands to the field. At that point, we have a gundog that will hunt in control.
Patterning and Advanced Training
The last step of our training includes patterning work (proper use of wind) and advanced training (steady-to-wing-and-shot and handling). It’s amazing how few hunters recognize the proper pattern a dog should run depending on the wind direction. Even more amazing is the number of times we’ll see a dog running the correct pattern only to have the owner trying to get the dog to run a different pattern!
Our training includes countless hours of patterning work so that there will be minimal whistles needed while hunting. When hunting, the simple fact is THE LESS NOISE YOU MAKE…THE MORE BIRDS YOU WILL SEE!

Our advanced training includes steady-to-wing-and-shot, stopping on moving birds and handling. All of our guide dogs are put through advanced training; although, some of our clients are not looking for advanced training.

There is nothing worse than hunting over an out-of-control flushing dog. However, there is nothing better than a fully trained flushing dog taking a moving pheasant and producing it for the game bag out on the Great Plains.