Update: Proposed changes to CPW training regs

Following up on this week’s post: Here’s some additional information about the intent and meaning of the language in the proposed changes to Chapter 8 of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations involving hunting dog training.

Like you, I was concerned about how the intent to exclude “exercise and conditioning” from the definition of training would affect us. So I called Tom Kroening, Deputy Regional Manager for the Northeast Region ( and my last supervisor while I was working at CPW).

To recap – the proposed language reads:

“Training means the act of a person instructing a hunting dog to follow scent, point, flush, retrieve “and respond to related commands to improve the dog’s performance in hunting wildlife or for field trials.” ( emphasis mine)

CPW has long struggled to manage non-hunting dog use of some state wildlife areas. In 2011, the then-Division of Wildlife wrestled with excessive use of two Loveland state wildlife areas by dog walkers. It was a messy public process and generated a lot of ill-will by non-hunters who had come to view these wildlife properties – bought with hunting license fees – as their local parks. So this is not a new issue for Colorado’s wildlife managers.

Tom said the language for this proposed revision to the regs was selected with our needs in mind. It allows handlers to train their dogs to be responsive in the field – which is a necessary skill for a finished hunting dog. The key, he said, is the regs would allow training¬† a dog to respond to … commands to improve the dog’s performance in hunting wildlife or for field trials.”

In practice, what that means is a handler needs to be commanding his or her dog while it is in the field.

I specifically asked Tom how District Wildlife Managers and Wildlife Techs would apply the language to the training we do for cooperation while hunting – and specifically to encourage a dog to actively and productively search while remaining in range of the gun. Tom said so long as a handler is commanding the dog, such as with voice, whistle or collar, they are within the scope of “training” as contemplated by the proposed revision.

Tom added that CPW recognizes that young dogs may not actually respond to commands. The test for law enforcement will be whether the handler is actively commanding the dog or using other training techniques to establish cooperation.

Bottom line – If you’re just letting your dog run around, uncontrolled, not caring where it goes or how far out it goes, allowing it to chase wildlife without attempting to call it off,¬† then you may not be within the scope of “training.”

So don’t do that. Bring a whistle, fit your dog with an e-collar, use them to keep your dog in sight while you teach it that the two of you are a team and it needs to pay attention to you and respond to your commands.

We’re lucky to have state properties where we can train our dogs. In some other states, chapters spend thousands of dollars every year to lease training grounds.

It’s pretty clear to me that the intent of the language is to permit the training activities that we use to train our versatile hunting dogs. The key is to be controlling your dog in the field. Which is what you should be doing anyway.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
Email them to rmc.navhda@gmail.com.

Thanks

Theo Stein
President
RMC NAVHDA