I read this on the Hunted Hare Board from Tom in Minnesota and was impressed with his dedication to pups.
Always interested in how other people do stuff.
I have 7 puppies right now. When I am "down south" during the work week I have a couple acres fenced in around the kennel. I leave them out as much as possible, just leave one kennel door open so they can go inside and sleep.
When I'm at the farm they run loose. Have been since they were weaned. Anyone that comes over knows they will get mobbed by a pack of puppies. Kind of us a pain, but I think it's important.
I watch out the window and when they are out away from the house I will take out a scrap dish or something and call them. They have been called in hundreds of times and they know what it means. They come running.
They have all been tied up to a dog house at one time or another and are leash broke.
I try to walk them as often as possible. Maybe a half mile or so out around the farm, through water, down the roads back to where we run, around deer, with the old dogs and without. They are starting to hunt now so I have started to put shock collars on them. I don't shock them at all the first few times they wear one.
Now I will start teaching them more discipline. When they start to range out while we are out on walk I'll call them back in. When they don't listen, I'll start out with the shock collar on 1 and go up as high as needed to get them back in. they all get this lesson as often as needed until they learn to come in when called no matter what.
Walking and hunting are two different things and they werelearn the difference pretty easy. On walk you stay with me, when we hunt you go hunti. Even the hardest hunting dogs can learn this easier than you think. I think because it is natural for dogs to travel in packs and walking is traveling, not hunting.
The next thing I do is take them hunting where there are lots of deer and no rabbits. I take 5 dogs because I have 5 shock collars. When one starts a track I let anyone join in that wants to, then I light them up. I don't say anything. Just shock them on 6.
I usually have them started on rabbits pretty good before this, but maybe not. Just depends on the dog. I have one in this litter now that hunts like crazy. She's running rabbits pretty good, had to shock her off a coyote Saturday and deer on Sunday. These kind turn your hair gray, but they make good dogs.
This summer I will start hunting these pups more and by next fall I plan to put a lot of hard miles on them. The best ones will stay and the rest will have to go.
I have raised pups this way for years, have some year classes that I still have 2, some 1, lots of year classes nobody is left. I'm hoping I have so many turn out this year I'll have too many good dogs.