With every new breeding season, some of us will again face that exciting time when we go to pick up our new hunting buddy from the breeder, be it a hound or a birddog. Most of us have some uncertain feelings about how to introduce the new pup into our family and home – after all, there are the possible puddles on the rug to face, and so many things can go wrong. Here’s some food for thought on how to socialize your pup, and introduce him to his future life as a cooperative, reliable gundog.

What is a good pup?

Of course, a good pup comes out of good (proven) parents, a clean kennel and a careful breeding program of a reputable breeder. Litters from professional breeders are absolutely necessary to get field bloodlines with the desired density of superior genes to be worth considering as a performance hunting dog. The best pup of the litter is the one you like best. Usually you can’t predict a pup’s natural ability at pickup-time. So go with what you like: color, temperament, size, etc. The bully of the litter is not always the best! Of course, pay close attention to undesirable traits, such as extreme dependence on litter mates (pup will never go somewhere alone!), shyness of “normal” situations (humans, other dogs, especially moving objects!) and any bodily fault.

Early development

According to scientists studying dog psychology, the young dog goes through several stages of imprinting. The most important and critical …