A Bird Dog Training Overview

The training of a bird dog pup is something that is a time-consuming exercise that if done right, will bring you as much joy and pride in life as anything you will ever undertake.Many folks see a fine, trained gun dog in action and assume that they could never accomplish that kind of performance with a dog that they own.
My own dog, Freck, had her early introduction
to birds in an empty lot near our house.
Now 3 years old, here she points a pigeon this
summer in that same lot, which is now a housing development
I am here to tell you that I have been there. I still find myself in that frame of mind from time to time when I am privileged to witness an exhibition of outstanding bird dog work between a top handler and a great dog in the field. I am also here to tell you that when we see one of these awe inspiring teams of man and dog in action you must look at them and in comparing them to your situation, realize that there is only one thing that separates a good dog from a great dog or even a "meat dog" from a pot-licking idiot. That thing is time.
By utilizing pigeons in the off-season in a
very controlled training method, one can
bring a young bird dog very far
as a useful hunting partner.
Training your bird dog will take devotion and a steadfast determination in order to get the dog at its maximum potential. Like any other training you will do in life, say educational training like getting a degree from accredited online colleges for instance, you will have your ups and downs, but sticking to it and taking the time everyday to practice the learned skills will help you and your dog to become a great team. If you will devote some time every day to working with your pup on three basic commands, "whoa", "come" and "heel" and work toward getting to the point where the dog will unfailingly obey those three commands no matter where he is or what he is doing, you will have a fine bird dog. "Whoa" is by far the most important of the commands. It simply means, "stop, DO NOT move until I release you". The dog must obey this command when it is given no matter how far away he is from you or what he is doing. It is useful in the yard, it is essential when the dogs are working birds and it can even save the dog's life in traffic.

If you can "whoa" your dog at anytime, you can then go to him and correct anything else that he has done wrong. If he is hunting too far ahead, you can use it to stop him. If he flushes some birds out on his own, you can use it to stop him and train on that offense in the very spot where he blew it. If he insists on goofing around with a shot bird he has picked up, if you can whoa him, YOU can go to him and get the bird from him and if you do it right, he will get the idea that bringing the bird to you and getting stroked is better than dinking around with it away from you. You MUST use this command to keep you dog from messing up the point of your buddy's dog when it finds birds and your dog comes up on it in the field or you probably sooner or later find yourself with one less buddy. If you can stop your dog, it is a then simple matter then to get him to come to you when you want him and most importantly if you can stop your dog and have him stand still in one place, it is much easier to go to him and stroke and love him up for a job well done.

"Come" is simply that. It means "stop what you are doing and come in where I can get my hands on you". It's uses are plain to see. For instance, if the dog will come unfailingly when called, retrieve training is a snap. If the pup does scoop up a shot bird and starts to dawdle off with it, if you can first "whoa" him to stop going in the wrong direction and then tell the dog to "come", you will get every bird you shoot delivered right to hand. "Heel" simply means "walk by my side until I tell you to do something else". It uses are also easy to see. Anytime you want to go somewhere with the dog with the dog under control, this is the way to do it. Trained properly, a dog will heel unfailingly without a lead so that you can have both hands free to carry things like your gun and all the birds he pointed for you. It is also important to remember to have a release command such as "ok!" for each of these commands. It lets that dog know that he has performed correctly and is now free to hunt for you again. Always take lots of time to stroke and praise the dog in a pleasant voice when he does perform correctly. Good dogs are born wanting to please and if you can show the dog in clear terms what pleases you and repeat that scenario over and over again many times over months and months, the dog will become positively addicted to doing the correct action if you let him know that by doing so, you think he is the greatest dog in the world.

Bird dog training is really just that simple. Even the best field champion you will ever see is doing nothing more than obeying these 3 commands very well AND using an extreme amount of talent to it's greatest potential to find and point birds for his boss. Most breeds of bird dogs today are being bred with more bird finding and hunting talent than ever before. All you have to do is spend alot of time with your dog to get him to apply that talent for YOU so that the two of you will be a solid bird hunting team. Neither of you is able to get a bird without the other, but together a team whose performance might even some day earn you honors on the field trial course, but will certainly gain you many new "hunting buddies" come bird season each year.
If you do your groundwork with a young dog in "whoa", "heel" and "come",
putting on some of the final touches, such as backing is a breeze.
If you can devote half an hour a day to a dog that is less than a year old and then an hour, 3 days a week to the dog when it is older, you will end up with a fine bird dog that will be a joy for many years.










The Introducing your dog to birds
The "Whoa!" command,
The "Come!" command
The "Heel!" command

-The Bird Dog Bookshelf-
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