GSP Specific Training
As a versatile hunting breed, the GSP is most happy when doing what he or she does best; hunting with his or her master or mistress.
GSP's can be used to hunt for a variety of game, including upland game birds such as woodcock, pheasant, quail, partridge, and grouse, waterfowl such as ducks and geese, furred game such as rabbits, and for the blood tracking of wounded large game such as deer, elk, or moose. The training of a versatile GSP begins early. Much as a human child learns most of what he needs to learn about learning by kindergarten, your versatile puppy will learn most of what he needs to know about learning by the time he or she is six months old.
Take advantage of his or her sponge-like capacity to soak up learning by exposing him or her to as many new people, places, and experiences as possible during the first few months. Take your pup for long walks in fields and on sidewalks, with you to city parks, schools, offices, shopping areas, woods, streams, etc. Encourage his or her contact with people, children, and other pets, and culture his or her exposure to wildlife early, and your formal training later on will be much more successful and come much easier.
While they make excellent pets, hunting is their designed purpose. Without the stimulus that hunting provides them, these dogs will not receive specialty bonding, training, guidance, activity, and time afield needed to achieve their fullest physical and mental potential. The GSP is a dog for the hunter who is looking for a loyal hunting companion that performs equally in the field, forest, and water. If for some reason you don't plan on training your dog for hunting, you should at least plan on formal obedience training, and some other structured type of activity to do with your dog to provide an outlet for his or her natural hunting instincts, such as agility, showing, obedience trials, hunting or tracking tests or trials, long hikes or nature walks, Frisbee or fly ball, etc.
If you are planning to train your versatile dog to hunt, be aware that THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LIVE BIRD EXPOSURE! If you don't have access to land with sufficient wild birds on it for training several times a week, you can "make do" with pen raised birds and either manual or remote controlled bird launchers up to a point! Remember, though, that the time will come when you MUST get your dog on wild birds to "finish" him or her in the field. Joining a hunting dog club, reading books and articles, subscribing to one of the internet chat lists or bulletin boards, or working alongside a local dog trainer or friend who may be training his or her own dog can be a great support to you during this process.
Consider training your GSP to recognize and respond to voice, whistle, and hand signals, to avoid problems later when the dog may not be able to hear you in the field. If you decide on an electronic training collar, you might consider one with the "pager" feature built in to assist you with getting your dog's attention in the field without electrical stimulation.