A well-trained lab hunting ducks

A well-trained lab hunting ducks

Today’s Tip:  Bird Dog Training

The most common problems to break with water fowl dogs are breaking for a bird before being sent, and pacing in the blind.  Not only will the dog’s movement in the blind cost you birds, it could potentially end in your dog accidentally being shot if he breaks for birds while hunters are shooting.

Breaking these habits is a matter of instilling discipline and obedience for the dog not to move until he is told to do so.  Practice by making the dog sit while you watch TV, read, do chores, even at an activity where there is a lot of action going on, like your kid’s lacrosse game.  As bird dogs are inherently full of energy, this will all be challenging for the dog to sit when he wants to be running or just moving around.  Start the process with few distractions, and slowly build the dog’s obedience to where he can be surrounded by distractions but does not move until he is told to.   Always reward good behavior, and correct noncompliance immediately.

Once you have made good progress, take the dog out shooting, and simulate a hunting situation.  Keep the dog in a blind or whatever type of hunting setup you typically use.  Have the dog sit still while you chamber a shell and shoot.  If the dog even lifts his hind off the ground, correct him immediately.

To me, hunting with dogs is one of the most rewarding activities in the outdoors; it is simply amazing to watch a well-trained bird dog perform.  And while most bird dogs have significant genetic ability, they don’t become good bird dogs without a lot of work.