Meeting the Opponent

 There is a saying that says “ It takes birds to make a bird dog.” I believe this means that the more birds your dog encounters in different situations, the more he learns about how to find and  handle the bird so as to keep it in place for you to flush and shoot.

 If you happen to live in an area where the wild birds are plentiful then you are in good shape. For those of us that are not fortunate enough to live in such a place then the pen raised bird is the way to go.

 There have been countless discussions about pen raised birds. In order to avoid a long discussion about the birds we all know that you need to source quality birds. Flight and weather conditioned birds is the key to getting a quality experience. Chukar and pigeons tend to be better than quail in my experience. However if quail is all you can get, then get the best you can find.

  Enough about the birds now and on to the dogs. What good is a bird dog that is bird shy? I will answer my own question and say none at all. You are probably saying how can a dog get bird shy? Well one way that is a sure fire way to create this problem is with an improper introduction to the bird. The introduction needs to be one that shows the dog that there is nothing to fear from this thing that is flapping around in front of me.

  The way that I learned a long time ago from a training friend of mine is a technique that helps save the bird for multiple uses. They can be hard to come by in the summer and that is when you need to be training and getting that puppy ready.

  I use a cage for the first couple of birds and it has worked well for me. Let me explain. I put the bird in a cage and walk the dog up to it. He can see the bird moving around and gets a nose full of the scent. As the dog gets excited by all the movement I encourage him and let him pounce on the cage, flip it over and do whatever to the cage. This I think is a tease and makes him want it more and lets you get more than one pass with this bird. 

  After a few minutes of this I have someone walk the young dog away and I put the cage behind something, usually some kind of bush. I then bring the dog past the bush and when he hits the scent cone he will either point or flash point and rush in. Either way he gets to go after the bird again. 

  This helps me keep the birds until he is ready for them to be released and helps get more out of them initially. It all goes out the window when they are being released.

   If he points then the next step is to take the bird out of the cage and put it under another bush.    

  This time when the dog points, or flash points it will get a flush. This way he gets to chase. Now all birds from this point forward are no longer planted in the cage and the dog gets the chase. Further increasing his desire to find the bird.

  This is the technique that I use and I used it to introduce the Gladiator to his opponent. In the last couple of weeks  I have taken him to our training field and put birds out for him. He is getting bolder in his search and learning to trust his nose. The more bird contacts that he has the more confident he is becoming in and the longer he is holding his points. He is at the point where he will let me move in and flush the bird.

  To boast a little about his performance, if you all will indulge me for a minute, the point in the picture below is on a bird that was in a small clearing between the pine trees. He pointed this bird from about ten yards away. I walked up and I was able to see the bird. Max did not move until I flushed the bird. I was very happy with this and decided that was the way to end that session.

 Each subsequent session has been an improvement in his performance and he continues to develop into a bird hunting partner. The next step in this development will be the gun introduction. I will let you all know how that goes for us.

2 Replies to “Meeting the Opponent”

  1. Wow, this has been quite a journey for both of you! I’m really impressed by his performance so far. He seems to be a quick learner and I’m sure his progress can not only attributed to his breed but his trainer! Looks like your knowledge and experience in the field is paying off!

    1. Thanks for the comments. This truly is a journey and he is definitely off on the right foot. His ability to learn is making it really enjoyable. Thanks for the nice words about my ability as a trainer however he is a better student than I am a teacher. Thanks again for joining in and taking this journey with us.

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