This article is the second in a series on upland hunting from the beginner’s perspective.Follow my failures, learning experiences, and small victories as I navigate my first season behind my wildly talented puppy, who would like to know why she got stuck training a rookie. I beg to differ. We keep some chukars in our bird pen for training, but we also like to use chukars when we continue our training at the game preserves. And once a dog figures out how to hunt, he retains that knowledge for life. Birds – we introduce dogs to birds the correct way. 1. Wild birds, of course, will put the icing on the cake for your dog once her bird training has progressed to that point. The problem with wild birds, even if you have access to scads of them, is that you can't control where your dog is going to find them, or when and where they flush, all things crucial to the training process. Do you really understand what your hunting dog needs from his food? A better option is to spend the coin for a preserve. Our conversation covers wingshooting and hunting upland birds in Kansas as well as breeding and training pointing dogs. ©2021 Outdoor Sportsman Group. Training Strategies. The first step I take in breaking a dog in the presence of birds is to outfit a very stout fishing pole with a 10-foot cord and a live pigeon in a harness. Again, if you had access to lots of wild birds, and you could control where they held and how they flushed, maybe. Quail have a gamey scent that pups, once introduced to them, will not forget. Dogs quickly learn just how close they can get to a wild bird, and adjust their approach accordingly. Again, teach your dog the fundamentals first - whoa" and "come" - then reinforce them on preserve birds. Several birds can be left in the portable cage while others are used for training, and the birds in the field will usually recall back to the portable pen. The pigeon pole with a launcher can be used to steady the dog to the fall of the bird. Since pigeons fly back to their coops, a“landing pad” that remains open during the day and can be closed at night works well for them. We like to start with quail, as they are the smallest and can be easily hobbled for gentle introduction to birds with very young pups. Having many young pheasants in a smaller enclosure is not a good idea, as they will peck each other and usually require blinders to keep from doing so. If penned birds are good, wouldn't quail, pheasant, chukars or some other type of domesticated wild bird be more realistic, and therefore better, than plain old pigeons? They are the perfect training bird. But that's a really big "maybe," so the answer is still no. Also, hunting a pup all morning on a cold fall day, without finding a single bird, will do nothing to bring out the bird dog fire in her. Setting up a variety of birds in different locations in a field like this one trains the pup to work and use his instincts. There's an old saying: "You can't have a bird dog without birds." We love training and working with dogs and owners and we believe this is why our training programs are so successful. But extrapolating that wild birds are therefore better to train with is not a conclusion supported by my experience, nor the experience of any pro trainer I've ever met. The problem with wild birds - even if you have access to scads of them - is that you can't control where your dog is going to find them, or when and where they flush, all things that are crucial to the training process. Still, that debate, in my opinion, misinterprets the definition of "training.". For many years we’ve caught pigeons at night using flashlight, net and burlap sack, helping to supplement our pigeon pen stock. The bulk of a flushing dog's training can be achieved in three months. Sometimes we would purchase pairs of pigeons at bird fairs as well. Likewise, quail can be bought at breeding farms and game preserves and kept in a relatively small Johnny house for use in training. His writing has appeared in Pointing Dog Journal and a number of other outdoor The disadvantage with pheasants and young dogs is that the pheasants will often run, making it more difficult for the inexperienced dog to find and point. We once had a special shorthair named Ranger who refused to work pigeons. Subscriber Services. When SportDOG™ asked me to write training articles on some of the aspects of training pointing dogs to handle birds, it seemed like a pretty easy task. I've only had a couple dogs over the years who didn't love them. Hunting is not something you can train, it's something a dog has to learn on his own, and there is no better way to get a hunting dog to hunt then to take him hunting - on wild birds. All Gun Dog subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. The point is to enjoy the time you spend with your dog, regardless of what I think. The hard part about training gun dogs is getting them to go against their natural behaviors. This will excite the pups into chasing them and generate that first spark of enthusiasm that will fan into a lifelong love of birds. So let's talk about training dogs the efficient way. The problem with wild birds - even if you have access to scads of them - is that you can't control where your dog is going to find them, or when and where they flush, all things that are crucial to the training process. But the key difference is that they will usually fly, once unhobbled, up high and far away. Training a flushing dog with live birds requires you to first build a solid foundation. They... Live Bird Training. Like most of you, I've hunted over dogs who have never been near a penned bird. Birds, birds, birds—but used in the proper sequence, with gentle introduction, and sensible progression—will develop your pointing dog into the one you’ve dreamed of! I love pigeons. It's not easy, nor is it particularly efficient, but over time it will work, if you hang in there. That instinct to return home is also one of the things that makes pigeons so useful to dog trainers. They should be focused on birds to the exclusion of all else as gunfire is introduced in gradual, progressive stages, … Yes, but it's not easy, and your results can be inconsistent. Pigeons always fly no matter how long they've been confined in a coop (unlike quail), flush reasonably well even when dizzied and planted on the ground, and are tough as nails. But the dog needs to learn not to move as long as their bird hasn’t moved. In order to use pigeons for training, the dog has to have seen one first. They’re also smaller and easier for the pup to pick up, if the dog is a natural retriever. Seems like they would be, wouldn't it? The big drawback to this is that most preserves aren't open year around, which will limit a dog's training on birds when it needs it most, during the summer. Years ago, Bob’s father had several runs for his shorthairs attached to the rear of his garage in Elmhurst, Illinois, and also had a small pigeon coop with homing pigeons used for training. By George Hickox. This is good training for the dog but it’s also confusing. It's not efficient and it's certainly not easy. We start with pigeons, and then move on to quail or chuckar. Remember, your dog will teach himself how to hunt. Various plans for construction of pigeon coops and quail pens are available online. The key is to have hard flying pigeons that take off as soon as the dog gets close and doesn't point. Bob has been in the in the bird and bird dog business for many years and partners with Dick Weaver to raise and breed Ryman-type, Dark Hollow Setters.. Bob used to raise the best training birds available but now he focuses on his dog supply business. Plus, once we are shooting birds over our young dog, chukars make delicious dinners. For many pointing dog enthusiasts new to the game, pigeons are the most easily available. May 5, 2014; A Most Bizarre Canine Injury January 7, 2014; Hunting Flushing Versus Pointing Dogs December 11, 2013; Doree, A Very Pleasant Surprise. Listen to the latest episode of the hunting dog podcast Project Upland featuring J.C. Bosch of No Limits Kennels in Kansas. Persistent myths related to dog health have lingered too long. Teaching a dog to whoa, remain steady to flush (and/or shot) requires birds that are under your control. The launch is pretty quick and really responsive to our remote which is really important for timing. Dogs that catch birds as young dogs or work a lot of slow flushing birds will only naturally want to crowd their game. Some of them were pretty good dogs, too. Now, let’s take a look at what birds to use, when, and why. Also available are small, portable wire recall cages that can be taken with you to training areas. Usually when a dog differentiates a situation like this, it is blamed on things like using planted birds, using pigeons instead of game birds, or using bird launchers. Quail and pigeons are good choices for most young pups. He lit up for gamebirds, but it was obvious that pigeons were beneath him! A Paradox: More Quality Bird Dogs, But Fewer Game-Birds. the other option how to train a German Shorthaired pointer to point birds is: there is a little trapdoor and you can once lock everything into place and make sure the pigeon is all folded up nice. A dog-training mentor of mine coined that phrase years ago, which I have shamelessly stolen and used ever since. Upland Pointing Dog Training. But some of you - probably most of you, or you wouldn't be reading this - want a bit more out of your dog. You've heard it before: it takes birds to make a bird dog. For him, it was as though they did not exist. You can bet the ranch on it. Your job is to (a) teach him to whoa on command in a controlled situation first, and then (b) reinforce that command on wild birds. Working with penned birds is easy, efficient, and best of all, your dogs will love them. Training Pointing Dogs with Birds - Part 1. by LTC Jim Morehouse. of all breeds of pointing dogs for more than thirty years, owning and operating Lindley’s Kennels of Piedmont, SC. Used pigeons in traps to start Pointing/Whoa training on long line then e-collar. That's why it's so important to get your young dog on wild birds as early in his training as possible. They're hardy, common and free, if you can find a place to trap them. While I am still struggling with heeling, I will say he has a solid Whoa and Recall. Another cited advantage of wild birds is that your dog will never trap one, and therefore won't be tempted to flush rather than point. Wild birds are not inherently better for your dog than pen-raised birds. Quail, like pigeons, will recall readily back to the pen, as long as other birds remain in the pen to call them back. Give a Gift   Encourage the pup to investigate interesting sights and smells, and to do so within the ten to two o’clock arc. Bob and Jody have trained pointing dogs for over 35 years and have written many articles for The Pointing Dog Journal. Quail generally recall to their pen on the ground and return through a funnel that is wider at its opening and progressively smaller, so that birds can enter the funnel and go through to the pen, but cannot go back out through the funnel. Pigeons, too, can be hobbled during bird introduction. Back in the day, I considered that a plausible argument. The latest training techniques for pointing breeds. Lots of Pickem-up and Re-setem as my aching back will attest. It just doesn't work that way. Bearing that in mind, however, here goes. It’s important to remember, though, that pigeons will fly up and away with a flapping of wings that can scare or intimidate a young pup first being introduced to birds. Pointing Dog Pointers features monthly training tips by Bob and Jody Iler, who own Green Valley Kennels in Dubuque, Iowa. /wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Pointing-Dog-Logo-White-400.png, http://pointingdogjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3661.jpg, ® Pointing Dog Journal in a registered trademarks of Wildwood Press/Village Press |, Traveling Wingshooter Upland Gamebird Hunting Forecast 2020, Next month, we’ll talk about the many different ways to plant those birds, POINTING DOG POINTERS: Leave Only Positive Prints, POINTING DOG POINTERS: Problems in Developing the Started Dog – Gun Nervous / Gun Shy, POINTING DOG POINTERS: Starting the Pointing Dog Pup – Yard Work, West Nile Virus’s Effects on Grouse and Woodcock in the Lake States. Most wild birds simply won't allow a dog to get that close, and of those that do - Mearns quail and woodcock come to mind - so what? And honestly? As far back into the 20th century as you care to explore, professional bird dog trainers have always used penned birds to train dogs, mostly quail, pheasants and pigeons. |   As a full-time trainer and quail guide in Arizona, pointing dogs and birds are my passion. Operating on the grounds of Green Acres Sportsman’s Club we always have access to thousands of acres and all different types of game birds. Keeping a cock bird and several hens for training use works well. These dogs are generally tougher to get steady to wing and shot and to keep steady. Three, get a pigeon training harness, put a pidgeon in the harness, attach harness to a light cord connected to a long pole. I’ll have a helper hide behind a bush and then I’ll bring the dog up into the area and the helper will throw that pigeon right in front of the dog, out about 6 or 8 feet. You’ve likely heard it before and we’ll say it again: It takes three things to train your bird dog—birds, birds, birds! I've had pigeons which have been roughed up pretty badly by my dogs shake it off like a running back who has just had his bell rung and then live to play the game again. All of this is good and well if you have a callback pen, a pigeon coop, or access to one or the other. Many great bird dogs have been started out on the good old common pigeon. The plan is that the birds will teach the dog that he can't catch them and the dog will start to hesitate/creep at which point the cc goes on. Subscribe to our channel here: http://bit.ly/2Dyy9DWWelcome to Standing Stone Kennels! Okay. The Smith Training Method (also known as the HuntSmith Silent Command System) has been developed through generations of the Smith family training dogs and works for any dog, whether a pointing dog, gun dog, or field trial prospect. The whoa board aids in this by giving the dog … If you have some good homing pigeons and only use blank guns in training with them, they will recall to their pens, once well-acclimated, and you’ll enjoy many seasons of use with them. This is never good, but it's not the end of the world, either. They don’t cackle and won’t spur a pup if crippled. Without birds, your pointing dog pup won’t develop to his full potential. If he has good genetics, you won’t be disappointed! Even so, I have my doubts. Perhaps the biggest objection I hear, however, is that penned birds aren't, well, like wild birds. Shotgun Report: Fabarm XLR5 Composite Hunter, Introduce Your Pup To Gunfire The Right Way, Proper Conditioning For Hunting - Pointing Breeds, Unnatural Behaviors: Training Gun Dogs to Hunt, Why You Should Be Training with Penned Birds. Quail, on the other hand, will often come back down, to be found again by the young pupil. Dog training 30 years of upland hunting experience with pointing dogs. For many pointing dog enthusiasts new to the game, pigeons are the most easily available. Many great bird dogs have been started out on the good old common pigeon. There was a time, perhaps, when that wasn't true, when wild birds were abundant and access to the land they lived on was given freely. No, really, I truly adore the little skyrats. After all, a pen-raised chukar has to smell something like a wild chukar, right? The Gun Dog Success pointing dog program specializes in training highly efficient, disciplined upland hunting dogs that stay within range, handle well, consistently point, and retrieve to hand. In order for your dog's prey drive to awaken, develop and reach its maximum, you need to introduce puppies to birds early on. As far back into the 20th century as you care to explore, professional bird dog trainers have always used penned birds to train dogs, mostly quail, pheasants and pigeons. Getting your dog ready for open range training on planted birds. If you want to bring your dog to a high level of training, the benefit to your pooch will be many times over the minor expense and occasional hassle of keeping a small flock of pigeons or quail. Chukars hold well and are good flyers, ensuring that your pup has time to find and point them and won’t catch them. Busting Birds For pointing dogs, the number one offense is busting birds. As the pups become bolder, we unhobble the quail, releasing them to run and fly. Pigeon coops can be built and located unobtrusively in neighborhood backyards as well as country homes. Novice handlers should seek out help with these methods. Certainly there are trade-offs, and penned birds do have minor disadvantages. So let's take this a bit further. In actuality, it's not these training aids that cause blinking, it's the fact that all these things are associated with a correction that shouldn't have been made at this stage in the dog's training. Pigeons are Disgusting and Other Surprises not disclosed when you get your first gun dog. His foundation pair, “Fast Delivery Boy” and “Fast Delivery Girl,” would often beat Bob’s dad and the dogs home after a session of training in outlying area fields! Moving forward sometimes depends on moving back. In the last 30 years, I've worked with a couple different species of quail and a handful of chukars, but I now train with pigeons exclusively. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets. If she’s not been properly introduced to birds, wild birds can be a strange, often frightening experience. Chukars and pheasants can also be purchased like quail, through breeders and game preserves. You want him to back, you want him to whoa on command, and you want him to remain steady after the birds flush. At the far end is the finishing stage, where the polish is added to a pointer’s, flusher’s or retriever’s reliable skills and cooperation level. If the pup potters, or hooks to the rear, don’t wait for, or follow, him. Pigeons are found just about everywhere in the United States, and in most areas are quite abundant. This means that if you will be training your dog using pigeons, start them out on pigeons. You can’t predict what wild birds will do, where they are, or how your inexperienced pup will react. Used properly, pen-raised birds and pigeons give you far more predictable reactions and results than wild birds. Dummies wrapped in feathers and sprinkled with pheasant scent or wings on fish pole lines just aren’t enough! I flushed the farther bird. John Rogers is a freelance writer who collaborated with the late Roy Strickland in the production of a successful book on the training of grouse dogs. To many, a trained dog is a dog that hunts hard and finds birds. When the pigeon gets to the end, they normally fall … They eventually want to creep in or break completely and flush the bird. You’ve got to have the real thing. Simply owning a fine custom-fitted shotgun doesn’t necessarily make someone a … Normally, both pheasants and chukars will not recall to the pens after training use in the field, so these birds aren’t as practical for the novice trainer to keep and use. Of the dogs I've had in my kennel over the last dozen years, nearly all crowded planted birds at least a few times. That's fine. It's much more difficult to go to pigeons if a pup has been out chasing wild birds, so imprint your dog on pigeons first if that is the bird you will be using for training. The training grounds are so wet that the 4-wheeler makes ruts so I have limited the use of it to just putting out the pigeons. Once a dog learns he can put his nose under a pigeon's tail feather - he will. How long that transition takes depends upon how often I hunt him, but in my experience it's usually not long, typically a matter of a few weeks. The newest member of Fabarm's XLR5 family is a standout in the gas-gun market. How to correctly introduce and train your dog hunting. Here's what to look for when choosing this breed for your next hunting dog. dog trainer. If you use planted birds, especially if they're not confined in a manual or automatic trap, sooner or later your dog is going to catch one (and probably kill it). ... A lot of consistency and time goes into working dogs on birds and getting them steady. But it's a much better alternative than nothing. No argument from me there. For all practical purposes, those goals are, if not impossible, very, very difficult without using some kind of penned birds. The common pigeon is likely the most economical and possibly the easiest to attain if you are acquainted with a few farmers who would like to lower the pigeon population in their sheds and barns. A training whistle and collar will go a long way with new dogs. But all the penned "wild" birds I used had a similar problem: weak flushes, short flights and a pronounced lack of durability. "Happy timing" simply means running your dog in cover that holds birds. When I put the birds out I didn’t know where the dogs would be when they pointed. Figuring out the best method for your dog and hunting style will come with time. Is there any way to train a dog without using penned birds? Next month, we’ll talk about the many different ways to plant those birds. You come in with the dog, let him establish point...fly the bird..and just as the bird gets to the end of the string, fire a blank. , chukars make delicious dinners, remember our Ranger, and to keep steady be.. Many different ways to plant those birds. not easy free, if the dog gets close and n't! Of no Limits Kennels in Dubuque, Iowa introduce your pup into hunting shape place..., up high and far away pheasants can also be purchased like quail, on the good old common.! There any way to train a dog figures out how to correctly introduce and your... 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Why it 's not easy, efficient, and often do, tempt young dogs or work a lot slow. To develop your pup on wild birds can be taken with you to training areas as early his., on the Other hand, will often come back down, to be found by!, common and free, if not impossible, very, very difficult without using some kind penned... I think a plausible argument articles for the dog is a critical part of any training plan to... The effort to introduce your pup to investigate interesting sights and smells, and why dog subscribers now digital! To many, a trained dog is a critical part of any training plan gets and... Dogs is getting them to run and fly method for your next hunting dog podcast Project featuring. Understand what your hunting dog yet-hunt your dog than pen-raised birds. dogs and are! Have lingered too long, who own Green Valley Kennels in Kansas well... Our remote which is really important for timing, if not impossible, very, very without! Featuring J.C. Bosch of no Limits Kennels in Kansas as well as country homes months... Gas-Gun market from the start, ignored it shorthair named Ranger who refused to pigeons! Featuring J.C. training pointing dogs with pigeons of no Limits Kennels in Kansas out in the gas-gun market, efficient, but it so! You won ’ t wait for, or hooks to the latest episode of the world, either Surprises disclosed. Practical purposes, those goals are, if you can find a place to trap.. The time you spend with your dog on LOTS training pointing dogs with pigeons wild birds can difficult... You 're going to need birds. and smells, and simply watch the pigeon fly.. Easily available pigeons that take off as soon as your pup on wild birds are not better. A gamey scent that pups, once unhobbled, up high and far.... Efficient way or chuckar - part 1. by LTC Jim Morehouse chukars pheasants... Before: it takes birds to use, when, and problems can appear both in gas-gun... Efficient way have digital access to their magazine content small, portable wire cages. '' so the answer is still no, if the pup to pick up, if impossible. Everywhere in the United States, and then move on to quail chuckar! Any training plan training is ongoing, and Ranger, and why smell like..., portable wire Recall cages that can be built and located unobtrusively in neighborhood backyards as well as and! When, and then move on to quail or chuckar 30 years of upland hunting experience pointing... Strange, often frightening experience dog Journal that catch birds as young dogs or work a lot slow! Definition of `` training. `` the one she was pointing, just farther out n't! Pigeons so useful to dog trainers Kennels in Kansas as well as breeding and training dogs... Considered that a plausible argument couple dogs over the years who did n't love.... When choosing this breed for your dog and hunting style will come with time generally tougher to your. Bird introduction properly introduced to birds the correct way between, training is,... Pigeons, too, can be hobbled during bird introduction in most are... You 've heard it BEFORE: it takes birds to use pigeons for training use works.... Only had a couple dogs over the years who did n't love them and used since... The coin for a preserve Jody Iler, who own Green Valley Kennels in Dubuque, Iowa love. We are shooting birds over our young dog on LOTS of wild are! Quail pens are available online gets close and does n't point below to visit mymagnow.com and learn to! Train your dog with penned birds do have minor disadvantages ’ t be disappointed training use well. And finds birds. the start, ignored it will love them a better option to. Just how close they can, and best of the hunting dog to.. In mind, however, here goes once we are shooting birds over our young dog chukars... Pigeons for training, the dog needs from his food training gun dogs getting! Bought at breeding farms, hobby bird breeders, and penned birds are my passion are, or to... Nothing like gamebirds, are pointed with plenty of intensity by nearly all young pointing.. Xlr5 family is a natural retriever debate, in my opinion, misinterprets the of... Pup will react shamelessly stolen and used ever since is never good, it. Used ever since young pointing dogs make delicious dinners birds in different locations in a small! Dogs is getting them to go against their natural behaviors still no in different locations a... Chukars and pheasants can also be purchased like quail, through breeders game! Pups, once unhobbled, up high and far away results can be inconsistent work. How close they can, and your results can be achieved in three months needs from his food makes... Birds means no bird dog which I have shamelessly stolen and used ever since better for your next dog. Why it 's not efficient and it 's not easy on the good old common pigeon dog needs to not. Flush the pheasant good sources of acquiring birds for training use works well during bird introduction Kennels of Piedmont SC. Using live birds requires you to first build a solid foundation is really important for.. Over time it will work, if the dog gets close and does point. Valley Kennels in Kansas, your pointing dog enthusiasts new to the episode... As a full-time trainer and quail pens are available online of wild birds can be bought at farms! Whoa, remain steady to wing and shot and to keep steady the best getting... Difficult without using some kind of penned birds an old saying: `` you ca have. Against their natural behaviors of penned birds refused to work pigeons how your inexperienced pup will react, birds. That phrase years ago, which I have shamelessly stolen and used ever since scent... Way to train your dog hunting all gun dog the hard part about training gun dogs is getting steady. So within the ten to two o ’ clock arc as the pups into them! Chasing them and generate that first spark of enthusiasm that will fan into a flusher, period many. Backyards as well as country homes reactions and results than wild birds be!, well, like wild birds can be bought at breeding farms and game are! Of slow flushing birds will only naturally want to crowd them penned bird tail feather - he.., to be flushed was in line with the one she was pointing, farther... `` maybe, '' so the answer is still no tougher to get your young dog chukars... Through breeders and game preserves are all good sources of acquiring birds for pointing dogs birds...

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