The best advice you’ve ever received

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“Never give away a bowl of dog food.”
 
That’s what a grizzled old trainer said, almost off-hand, decades ago. Being a bit slow on the uptake, I asked what he’d meant with that tossed-away comment. His explanation drove home the best bit of advice I’ve ever been given: dogs expect something for everything they do … or don’t do.
 
Your hunting partner is learning all the time. If their DNA contains anything, it holds the chromosome for cause and effect. Deep in their canine genetic legacy is an innate ability to tie actions with consequences. Scramble more aggressively, get more mother’s milk. Run faster and catch more dinner. Fight hardest, and earn the chance to reproduce.
 
These fundamentals guide a dog’s entire existence. If he gets nothing for his efforts, he’s probably not going to do it again. If he does, he’ll repeat the behavior. When he does it for food or praise, a bird or even your companionship, it becomes a training strategy.  That observation still guides my training today.
 
Have you been enlightened?What was that advice?
 
Who shared their wisdom with you, and why? Most importantly, what did you do with that hard-won knowledge?
 
(Scott’s TV show is Wingshooting USA. His new book is What the Dogs Taught Me. Learn more here.)