George Hickox: Master Trainer

Eddie (a girl-dog) all grown up and going for a pheasant.

One of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve ever spent in my life was in a chopped down cornfield near Hugoton, Kansas. George Hickox invited me to a week of pheasant hunting and I was also there to help out some of his clients with their dogs. That first afternoon, George and I went out to look at two of his dogs that were for sale. For four hours we put the dogs through their paces, flushed some pheasants and simply commented on what we were seeing. To hear the cogent comments of a master trainer is priceless. George is a master. I am honored that he thinks I am, too. We have different perspectives and different experience, but we both love and know dogs. If you are jealous of my day tramping across cut-down corn fields and wading through hip-high brush with George, you’ve got the right stuff. (Photo from Sand Wells Outdoors. Photo By Bill Buckley)

Tribute to Exceptionalism
About six years ago, George’s wife was interested in clicker training. They looked at many internet sites and finally hit mine. I was the first person who actually talked like a real world trainer. George set up a seminar for me at a hunt-club in Oregon. We hit it off immediately. He had a 14 week old Lab pup that I worked with, named Eddie (a female) that was a complete delight. Later I spent a week in Montana teaching George directly whatever he wanted to know – targeting, using the clicker to shape functional hunting behaviors – how to inhibit behaviors to make polite gun-dogs. Within a year he integrated clicker training into what he does best – train pointers and flushing retrievers. Not many people would have done that. George didn’t need to add to his resume or repertoire. It is the mark of exceptional professionalism to keep pushing and learning even when you don’t have to. In the years since we met, George and I have taught together and not surprisingly have, to my knowledge, never disagreed other than in the tiniest detail about dogs or their behavior – the kind of disagreement that ends up with a sip of Irish Whiskey. It doesn’t matter what kind of training you do. If you wish to be better than you are, go to one of George’s schools. It will hands-down be better than any of those dog training schools, modern training certifications or any academic curriculum you can find. One caution. George does not long suffer fools. If you go, make sure you go there as a learner. If you want to prove you know more than he does you’re wasting your time. If you want to argue, he’s not known for polite discourse with argumentative people. So, save up the money and do something that will dramatically improve your skills as a trainer. (Photos By Bill Buckley)

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