Introducing your Dog to Birds

Now that we have covered some very basic training that you can undertake in earnest from the time you new hunting buddy is 6-10 months of age, we need to look at working with the dog as a team in the field to what we bought him to do: Find and point birds for us to shoot.

You should toss out allow the dog to retrieve some cold dead birds and even chase a few clipped wing birds around to get him used to birds and fired up about hunting them. If you can, take the dog out and let him find chase wild birds as well.

Planting or liberating of pen raised gamebirds of pigeons is a necessary evil in the training of the modern bird dog. Training your bird dog correctly and in the proper situations is like training for anything else you do, whether it be sports, work, or a scholastic endeavour. You need the proper tools and training equipment like clothing, books and practical methods in order to get the best results. Modern season lengths and our own lifestyles do not give us the opportunities to develop a complete dog on wild birds. The method of training and alot of the ideas in the piece is based on the assumption that you are like me and do not have daily access to fields of wild birds, which is obviously ideal. So, we must make do and still give the dog alot of bird contact. How we go about this can make or break our dog in it's progress into a useful hunting companion.

I cannot stress enough the importance of having the dog "whoa" trained before you start this work. You must be able to stop the dog's hunt in the field from a considerable distance with just a voice command. If you cannot stop your dog as it works in the field and have it stand and wait for you to come up, with just a voice command, you are just asking for trouble to begin on birdwork.

Now, we all know that it takes birds to make a bird dog. I prefer to begin a pups field training on barn and/or homing pigeons at first, given my situation of living in the big city.

The degree and pace of the success you will have in developing your dog's hunting pattern, habits and bird manners are dependent on these 3 factors:

#1) The dog's hunting drive (or desire, commonly called "birdiness").
#2) His latent ability to smell and point birds (known as "nose")

and from the standpoint of you the trainer, most importantly;

#3) The overall scenting conditions in regard to the birds you use in your training field. This includes, wind, humidity, the health and alertness of the birds being used as well as their general "stinkiness". Even the best pen raised birds do not smell as good to a dog as the real thing. This factor also includes the degree of "man-scent" associated with the birds you liberate to work with.

We can't control factor's #1 and #2 to much degree once we have pup home. That is why you must be sure to pick a pup from a very good litter. It is not possible to guarantee picking a good pup based on any given factors, but one can determine the overall chances of picking a litter that should have good pup. (That all sounds like a subject for a later time!)

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The "Whoa!" command, Part 1 The "Come!" command
The "Heel!" command
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