There is nothing quite like the bonding experience of sharing a hunt with your dog. If you are raising a little bird dog pup so that you can partake in this tradition as well then today is your lucky day. In this article we are going to discuss the ins and outs of bird dog training so that we can help you to get started and to avoid some of those training pitfalls that can hinder things early on. Let’s discuss how to train a bird dog!
Bird dog puppies : Starting off their training right
The first and most important step with hunting dog training is going to be socialization. Your pup needs to interact well with you as well as with other dogs. Some things to keep in mind to help you to accomplish this well are as follows:
- Lots of playtime – Your dog needs to get used to playtime with you in order to help to forge a stronger bond, so make sure not to neglect ‘fun time’ with your pup.
- ‘Yipping’ if your pup bites too hard – If your pup has been weaned a bit early, they may not know how hard to bite. If your pup bites a little too hard, immediately stop playtime and make a ‘yip!‘ sound like a wounded pup. This will teach your puppy when they are biting too hard.
- Toys – You want your pup to learn that they have things of their own (and also that there are certain things which are okay to chew!). Be sure that your pup has lots of toys to keep them amused.
- Time around other dogs – Time at the dog park or with other dogs nearby (such as other dogs you may own or the neighbors dogs) can help your dog to learn socialization very quickly. Just be sure to always introduce them with a leash so that you can pull back your dogs if necessary.
Training your bird dog puppy – basic commands
During the first year of your pup’s life you will want to be sure that they are well-grounded in the basic commands. Your puppy needs to know how to sit, to stay, lay down, and fetch. Other basic commands such as ‘Put it down’ are also going to be vital. These are core skills that you are going to be building on and gun dog puppy training basics. Learning these will help to make learning the more complex commands much, much easier for your puppy.
How to train your bird dog: First bird introduction
The first bird that your puppy meets should be a dead bird such as a pigeon. You will want to let them sniff it and it is okay if they pick it up, however you want to discourage the pup from chewing or shaking the dead bird as this can result in your dog worrying game at a later date. Should they attempt to engage in these behaviors gently discourage this, tell them to ‘put it down’ and reward them with a treat when they comply.
Live bird introduction
If you have access to live birds then let your puppy play with them. Early interactions will get your puppy used to the sounds and to chasing wild game. This can help to spark your puppy with the desire to hunt and will help immensely with later training sessions as well.
“Transform ‘fetch’ from a stick-game into a proper game retrieval exercise.”
Dog bumpers, also known as ‘dog training dummies’ are a great way to get your dog used to fetching game. Designed to simulate the size and the weight of actual game, bumpers are inexpensive and a great way to transform ‘fetch’ from a stick-game into a proper game retrieval exercise.
Choosing a dog bumper
Dog bumpers come in various types. For beginning dogs, we recommend standard rubber bumpers, preferably ones that will float. These come with a throwing rope attached and simulate the size and weight like more expensive bumpers but they also have the advantage of being brightly colored and easier to find if your puppy misses on early throws. They also have shapes which are more conducive to grabbing until your pup learns to master gripping the bumpers.
Upgrading your bumpers for training
For more advanced training once your pup is used to the current bumpers, we would highly recommend canvas dog bumpers, as these are better at holding a scent, so you can coat them with game scents that will mimic what they will be hunting when things go ‘live’. Some bumpers are also available which mimic the appearance of the bird as well but we don’t recommend these until your dog gets a little older. When your puppy is still learning, stick with the inexpensive bumpers.
Your puppy needs to do a lot of running out in the wild with you, so we recommend investing in a good location collar. The more that you can mimic actual hunting in your training the better and location collars can help make sure that the little one doesn’t get too excited and possibly lost. Your basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ can help when you are getting started when it comes to keeping them within a certain range but as that range grows (and it needs to, of course) then you will find the location collar invaluable.
Today we have gone over some of the basics for training your ‘bird dog’ puppy. Remember to stick to the core commands, invest in some training tools such as bumpers, and consider that location collar. These are all very basic tools of bird dog training and they will serve you well. Lastly, you will want to invest in your patience. That puppy loves you and wants to please you but remember that it is still a juvenile hunting dog. There will be mistakes. Just keep your temper in check, calmly correct them, and before you know it you’ll be hunting long and wonderful days with your new best friend!