Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 25

 (come) commands. It is crucial to understand that we want our pointing breeds to have somewhat less control than retrievers and flushing breeds. The latter two types of hunting dogs should be hunting within gun range, and when they hit that flush hard, you'd better be ready. Your pointer pup, on the other hand, is going to do a lot more of the legwork for you. He needs to get out there and hunt the ditches, the brambles and deadfalls, the hedgerows and fields for you, whether he's hunting pheasants, quail, woodcock, grouse and the like.
Therefore, it follows that we will not overly emphasize the obedience aspect until we have gotten our pointer pup bird crazy. We have had pointing dogs in our kennel that stroll by our side, quite mannerly, in the field. Nice for a Sunday walk, no good for hunting birds. If the dog has fire in his blood and the eye of the tiger, no amount of obedience will cool him down when turned loose in a field - these dogs will need control from the onset. But the trick, for you, is to first make sure that your pup learns to love the birds. Learns to hunt for them with zest and snap and drive. Then we can worry about control!
In this issue we are going to help you get your pointing dog puppy bird crazy and introduce you to handling in the field. After that, in the next column, we'll walk you through the gun development process and begin pup's yard work. Later, we'll put the icing on the cake by combining all these elements together and shooting birds over the pup. So put your gun aside for the time being, and read on.
Training aids are two-fold, consisting of the articles or equipment, that you'll use to train your dog, and the attitude that you'll have while training. Of the two, attitude is most important. You can make mistakes and not ruin your dog if you have a patient and fair attitude. Dogs respond to being shown what is expected of them and to the praise they receive as they learn. This requires lots of patience and repetition. There are no short cuts. Just as evaluation of your pup's temperament is key to training him, your own personality is just as important to successful results. If you are, by nature, a controlling perfectionist, or easily angered - you would be wise to let someone else train your dog for you. If you have a sense of humor and are open-minded and reasonably patient, let's get started!
We keep it simple
Training aids include an Acme Thunderer large whistle with the pea inside removed for louder distance sound, a six-foot cotton web or light leather lead, a correction collar, and a twenty-foot checkcord. You can train a bird dog almost completely with a checkcord - a well known, or perhaps, well-kept secret.
Here at our kennel, we use training leads that we have specially made for us, patterned after Delmar/Rick Smith's training lead. Our leads are more flexible and easier on a young pup, but work on the same principle. They are effective, but require some instruction to use properly.
The correction collar can be either a chain or nylon slip-collar. We don't use or recommend prong or spike collars, or nylon leads. The correction collar should measure about two inches longer than the size of the dog's neck. It must be put on properly to work well, and should only be worn during training sessions. Holding the two rings at each end of the collar with the thumb and index fingers of each hand, drop the chain or nylon down through one ring until the rings meet. Holding it in your hands, let one end of the collar drop several inches through the ring, forming the letter P. Facing the dog, slip the collar over the dog's head. The part of the collar that runs through one ring will have the ring that you will attach to the lead snap. Pup will normally be heeling on your left side, and it's important to put the collar on properly, so that it will correct the pup and release immediately.
Okay, training aids are in place - now - what's next?
You know the answer to that, don't you? Birds, birds, and more birds! You can't train your puppy without them. You don't want wings, or dummies with pheasant scent, or yard sparrows. You need birds.
What kind of birds? For pointers, pigeons can work well and are cheap to acquire. Over the years, however, we have found that some pointing dogs just aren't pigeon dogs. For these pups, quail are the

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
Maintained by Dennis Guldan e-mail
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