Josh Miller of River Stone Kennels has spent his life training dogs to be lifelong companions, at home and in the field. His work through the years has taught him that dogs can teach us as much as we teach them.
“There are so many life lessons we can learn from dogs—selflessness, love, and forgiveness certainly amongst them. While it’s true that the man trains the dog, it is equally true that the dog trains the man.” This special relationship is what allows the bond between hunters and their dogs to be so strong. Miller’s training philosophy is built upon this bond.
The vast majority of the dogs Miller trains become family members first and hunting dogs second. This necessitates a completely different program that is a stark contrast from training philosophies of the past. “When I was young my grandfather had a lab named Warden. He lived outside in a kennel run and we weren’t allowed to play with him for fear of ‘softening him up.’ That’s just how it was back then. Nowadays, our dogs are like our children. I love how gun-dog ownership has changed in that regard.”
For many of Miller’s clients, their dogs are their reason for getting outdoors. “I have stories a mile long of people that tell me they wouldn’t be interested in going out if they couldn’t hunt with their dog,” he says. “That’s a pretty powerful thing to consider – for many, a good dog is what deepens their connection to the hunt. I think that is what we’re all looking for when we step into our boots.”