Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PostHeaderIcon The First Days of Training Your Hunting Puppy

Just because your puppy is nearing professional status at fetch with a tennis ball, does not mean he will retrieve birds. The introduction of birds to your puppy is best accomplished by doing just that: introducing them to birds. Bird decoys, fake bird scent, or feathers will probably not be sufficient in exposing your puppy to the hunt. In the same way, introducing a puppy to the gun is not best achieved by making loud, sudden noises.

The first introduction to birds is commonly achieved with pigeons. They are not usually aggressive and they can be used again and again. They are also a good size for most puppies or young dogs. Quails are also a good choice, although they are less durable. For either choice, pull out the flight feathers of one wing so that the bird cannot fly far away from your training area. For an initial exposure to birds, tie the puppy to a long thin rope, then tease the dog with the live bird, leaving it just a few feet from the dog. At this point, any reaction is positive. The dog may just bark at the bird, or may pounce on it and drag it around. It may take a few practice sessions before the pup is willing to pick up the bird.

When the puppy does hold the bird in its mouth, call the puppy to you and praise him/her until the dog naturally drops the bird. Do not grab it out of the dog’s mouth; this can encourage the dog to fight for it and start a game that you will not want to play on your hunt! Allow the dog to keep the prize and let him or her be aware of your praise for holding the bird and bringing it to you. Keeping the process simple, repeat the bird training by tossing it to the dog again and again, each time allowing the distance to grow further. You will want the pup to be very successful at this stage, so do not add other challenges until further in the training.

Introducing your puppy to the gun should involve teaching your puppy to relate the gun to the excitement of chasing birds. What you want to do is teach the dog that the gunshot means that something fun is coming. While you are holding your dog’s collar or leash, have a friend take a live bird about 40 yards away and throw the bird so the dog can see the direction of the fall. As soon as the helper releases the bird, you let the dog go. At first you will do this without noise. Next, the helper will work to distract the pup by calling him just before the throw. You shoot a starter pistol and the helper releases the bird, then you release the pup. Later, add a second shot while the bird is in the air.

When you have had a few successful practice sessions with your puppy, shoot a live bird for the pup. Your helper will toss it in the air for the shot; you should be prepared with at least two shots ready, using small loads so the bird is left intact.

Your puppy should be ready for this kind of training at 3 months old. It is important that you train the puppy with the birds first and successfully accomplish this step before moving on to gun training. If your dog is showing resistance to any kind of bird or gun training, it may be wise to call a professional. 

Related Puppy Training Articles:

Geese & Guns- Taking Your Dog Hunting For The First Time By Kelly Olson


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