Hunting Dog Training – Are you making deposits or withdrawals?

April 16th, 2013 • By: Geoffrey English Dog Training

8 week old ESS and birdThere are not many absolutes in dog training.  However, one thing is for sure, when it comes to training young hunting dogs you are either making emotional deposits with your dog or withdrawals.  Remember that the next time you take your young dog out for a training session.   In fact, write it down on a yellow sticky and place it next to your training equipment.  Better yet, stick it to your forehead – just kidding. Imagine the looks you would get at work the next morning.   Oops – I digressed.

Dogs, like humans, establish likes and dislikes early on in life.  In fact, they start establishing strong associations between 12 and 20 weeks old (the so-called “imprinting period”).   It’s during this time when most dog’s working attitude is established. What is “working attitude”?  Well its just like it sounds – the attitude your dog has about working or training.

When you were in grade school did you get up in the morning excited about school or do you hit the snooze alarm a dozen times before finally getting out of bed.  Well chances are, how you felt about going to school was largely based on the associations you had with school or what you thought the day might bring.  A spelling test, a bully on the bus – yikes, maybe I will hit that snooze button again!  Well, dogs are not cognitive thinkers like humans, they are associative thinkers and even dogs might not be so keen on school if every day they had a SPELLING TEST or were greeted by the NEIGHBORHOOD BULLY.

My point to all this is simple.  If school was about gym, lunch and recess many kids would start their day with big smiles on their faces, eager to head to school.  Was there ever a time that you enjoyed school?  Perhaps it was a great teacher who made learning fun?  Think about it.

As a professional dog trainer, I find so many clients are too quick to jump into a structured obedience programs and use traditional corrections with their dog, before taking the time to fill the glass with good positive experiences.  Sure I like an obedient dog as much as the next guy. But what I love more is a strong bond and connection with the other end of the leash.

I have so drastically changed my young dog training program over the last several years.  My emphasis now is about one thing,  making it fun to learn! No my standards have not change, what has changed is the methods I use each day to make regular positive deposits with that you dog, instead of withdrawals.  It requires a whole lot of creativity and in the upcoming articles I will share some of the ways you can make your next training session fun — for both you and your future gun dog!

Changes Made to the Connecticut Duck Stamp

June 28th, 2010 • By: Geoffrey English Industry News

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the hunting privileges associated with the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) are changing to a calendar year, January 1 through December 31. To facilitate this change, for the remainder of calendar year 2010 and 2011, the DEP will issue a 2010-2011 Duck Stamp with privileges that begin on July 1, 2010 and end on December 31, 2011. Starting in 2012, duck hunting privileges will be for a calendar year, January 1 through December 31. This change is due to legislation passed in April 2010 by the Connecticut State Legislature. The legislation also increased the cost of the Duck Stamp to $13.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Fund also has been recreated, meaning that all money collected from the sale of stamps will once again go directly toward wetland conservation projects and improvement of waterfowl hunting access in Connecticut. Over $1.1 million has been raised and spent on wetland habitat conservation in Connecticut since 1993, when the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp Program was initiated. These funds have been provided, in large part, by hunters. A substantial portion of the $1.1 million also was raised through sales to Duck Stamp collectors and to collectors of artistic prints from 1993 to 2002 when the production and sale of prints was discontinued.

Hunters 16 years of age or older are required to purchase a Connecticut Duck Stamp every year if they plan to hunt waterfowl in Connecticut. However, anyone who has an interest in wetland and waterfowl conservation can purchase and collect stamps. The stamps feature a different waterfowl species each year. The 2010-2011 stamp features an illustration of the common goldeneye by Clint Herdman, a wildlife artist from Beacon Falls, Connecticut. Mr. Herdman is an avid conservationist and the current Vice President of the Connecticut Waterfowlers Association. He and several other sportsmen worked with the State Legislature to help get the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Fund recreated.

Duck Stamps can be purchased at town halls, select DEP facilities, outdoor equipment and bait and tackle stores, the DEP’s License and Revenue office at 79 Elm Street in Hartford, or on the DEP Web site (

Connecticut Dog Tethering Bill Remains a Problem for Sportsmen

April 30th, 2010 • By: Geoffrey English Industry News

Despite an amendment, a dog confinement bill in Connecticut would still cause severe problems for sporting dog owners.

Senate Bill 274, a bill restricting how dog owners can confine or tether their dogs, was recently amended and could be voted on at any time in the state Senate. Details of the bill’s confinement and tethering restrictions can be read by clicking here. Although the amendment may have good intentions, the new language simply does not go far enough in providing protection for sportsmen and sporting dog owners.

The amendment only exempts sporting dog owners from complying with the new restrictions while they are actively hunting, at a field trial, or training for such events. It does not exempt them when traveling to these events or while at home. Instead of totally exempting sporting dog owners, it creates an “affirmative defense” for dog owners during transportation and while at home.

“The use of an ‘affirmative defense,’ as opposed to an outright exemption, means that sporting dog owners could be charged with a violation of the housing and tethering provisions but would have a defense in court” said Jeremy Rine, USSA associate director of state services. “Basically, owners would have to spend their own time and money proving in court that they ‘regularly take their dogs out’ for hunting or training.”

In addition, the bill gives no insight on how often law abiding sporting dog owners must utilize their dogs for them to fall within this affirmative defense.

Take Action! Connecticut sportsmen and sporting dog owners should contact their state senators today to urge them to oppose this bill. Tell them that SB 274 doesn’t go far enough to protect sporting dog owners.

To find your state senator’s contact information, visit the Legislative Action Center at

For more information regarding the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alert Network, call 614-888-4868, or email Greg R. Lawson, director of communications at or Sharon Hayden, assistant director of communications at

Vermont Families Afield Bill Clears House of Representatives

March 20th, 2010 • By: Geoffrey English Uncategorized

On March 17, the Vermont House of Representatives passed Apprentice Hunting legislation aimed at reducing barriers to new hunters entering the field. House Bill 243 now moves to the Senate for further consideration. It is part of the national Families Afield effort by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Steve Adams (R- Hartland), will allow newcomers to try hunting under the close supervision of an experienced mentor prior to the completion of hunter education.

“We’re proud that Representative Adams and the House of Representatives have taken the first step to ensure the future of Vermont’s hunting heritage,” said Evan Heusinkveld, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) director of state services. “Vermont sportsmen should continue voicing their support for this bill by calling their state senators.”

The Families Afield initiative was established by the USSA, NSSF and NWTF in 2004 in order to bring a new generation of sportsmen to the field. Since the program’s inception, Families Afield legislation has been passed in 29 states with over 300,000 apprentice licenses sold to date. Other groups giving key support to the Vermont effort include the National Rifle Association, Vermont Traditions Coalition, and Ducks Unlimited.

Take Action! Vermont sportsmen are encouraged to contact their state senators and urge them to support HB 243. Tell them that this bill is an important step to protect conservation efforts by reducing barriers for the next generation of Vermont hunters to take to the field. To find your state senator’s contact information, visit the USSA Legislative Action Center at

Sport Anglers Alarmed by Proposed Obama Policy

March 19th, 2010 • By: Geoffrey English Uncategorized

A controversy has erupted in the sport fishing community over a new federal management plan for oceans and Great Lakes waters. Recent opinion pieces circulating on the internet and reported on numerous radio stations have stoked the flames through revelations that the policy, if implemented, would prohibit recreational fishing within vast areas of public water.

It has also been reported that many organizations with a history of being against fishing access played large roles in its formation and that the plan could be finalized by the end of March with President Obama able to implement it through Executive Order.

Despite the firestorm, it should be pointed out that the plan is not currently finalized and, according to a Department of the Interior fact sheet, the Administration denies any intent to restrict fishing access. However, there remain causes for concern.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) reported on the draft plan in October, 2009. At the time a combination of factors raised concern with the USSA and other pro-fishing organizations that plan could result in restrictions on sport anglers.

First, there was a lack of any reference in the report to the positive impact recreational anglers have on aquatic conservation. In turn, this raised an alarm as to what the framework for zoning in these waters will be when the final report is issued.

Other factors included a history of anti-fishing interests that have been pushing the creation of “Marine Protected Areas” where angling would be prevented. Several of these areas already exist off theCalifornia and Florida coasts.

Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that guides the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, has also imposed restrictions on sport anglers in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic. Finally, there is a general concern related to some of the key anti-hunting regulatory appointees made by the Obama Administration such as Cass Sunstein.

When looked at comprehensively, these factors made it necessary that the USSA and other groups ensure that the voice of recreational anglers be heard by the Administration during the formation of its policy. According to several leading recreational fishing groups, this has not happened and those groups have urged supporters to make their concerns known to their members of Congress.

For example, the American Sportfishing Association has stated “It is important that the administration recognizes and promotes the economic and conservation contributions of outdoor recreation, including recreational fishing and boating.”

Jim Donofrio, the Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) said in a recent press release that “I don’t think this president would consider banning recreational fishing outright, but it’s clear to us that the Obama Administration would like to severely restrict recreational fishing.”

Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leadership, with the support of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, has also sent a letter to President Obama stating that recreational fishing deserves “full consideration and incorporation” in the proposed plan.

The USSA joins these pro-fishing organizations, legislators and others in urging sportsmen to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators about this proposed policy. It is essential that the Obama Administration appreciates the importance of recreational fishing to conservation and local economies.

“Recreational anglers provide the bulk of the funding for fisheries and aquatic conservation,” said Bud Pidgeon, USSA president and CEO. “Their voice should be heard before any policy is enacted limiting access and causing a decline in resources for conservation, not to mention job losses in areas supported by fishing.”

Take Action! Sportsmen are urged to contact their U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators and urge them to include recreational fishing protections in any federal management plan for the oceans and Great Lakes.

To find your members of Congress, visit the Legislative Action Center at