My 21-month-old Labrador amazed me yesterday. Not having owned a hunting dog previously, I wasn’t expecting him to mature over the winter without training on specific tasks. I took Taiga out back to our meadow to throw and plant two frozen training birds. Without any specific training from me over the winter, he has greatly improved his quartering habit, his reliance on his nose, and his marking ability.

At this time last year, at 9 months he was just getting acquainted with birds. On one of our Alaska outdoor adventures to the Talkeetna River in late April, he wasn’t even a swimmer yet. After spotting a shorebird across the shallow rive, his running, 10-foot jump into the river after that bird was a great start to a bird-hunting career, and to his introduction to swimming. (Of course the bird was out of season, but had no chance to catch it.) After that episode, he quickly became an accomplished swimmer that summer.

Taiga Airborne

My next book will be on “Raising Housedogs.” After rasing two dogs from puppies over the past 20 months, I’m very interested in training strategies. I’ve learned quite a lot on retriever training and training Taiga for Upland hunting in Alaska. I am far from an expert on training hunting dogs, or even dogs for obedience trials, but that’s not what the majority of dog owners need or want. They just want a good companion/house dog. That will be the focus of my book; a book for the everyday dog owner.