AA WINGFOOT KENNEL
Everyone that is involved with bird dogs or any type of hunting dog in general has different ideas on how to best train them, and of course I have mine. My ideas are quite simple. you need to get your dog to be your friend & partner while hunting and everything will come into place and turn out just fine. It is however a good idea to teach your dog to obey three main commands. 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. This also helps when you have more than one or two dogs to hunt or train. "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 champions 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 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. Also there are numerous tapes, books, and DVD's on the market from professional trainers, find one that is to your liking and stay with that method.
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