Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 26

 answer. You have several options here. Pigeons can often be gotten from farmers who are happy to get rid of them, but you'll have to do the legwork. Use a flashlight and burlap bag to catch and transport them, after dark, from their roosting places - usually in low stock sheds or the like. You can check for bird breeders who will often sell common varieties of pigeons cheaply. Quail can be purchased from game breeders. Either way, you should try to find a place to house your birds so that you can re-use them for your training season. Quail will recall to a "johnny house" that they've become accustomed to. Pigeons will home back to a loft that they've lived in for several weeks. Flyaway pigeons can also be weighted down with a short piece of hose so that they will fly well for a distance - then go down, be recovered, and reused.
Whatever birds you use, you will need some grounds to work your dog on with the birds. Suburban backyards just won't do. A vacant field will work well for training your pup - using a farmer's CRP field is even better. Always check with the owner for permission first, and keep in mind that dogs can't be trained during bird nesting seasons in most areas.
Another source of help for you in finding birds and grounds to train on are local bird dog clubs, game preserves, and AKC, NSTRA or other breed clubs that hold events on state hunting ground areas. Bird dog clubs often have access to birds and grounds for training. Game preserves are an excellent source of grounds and birds, but may prove costly to the average fellow who needs more than one or two training sessions while developing his pup. Breed club members often train dogs on the grounds used for field trials, hunt tests, and other events - after the testing is finished. These events are normally held in the Midwest in the spring and fall.
Attitude, training aids, birds, grounds. Now you're ready.
Start by getting your pointer pup used to the correction collar and checkcord. Take him out in an area with plenty of room and let him range out on the cord and feel the snap when he hits the end. You'll have his attention now; this is something different for him. Bold pups may not seem to notice - and may continue pulling, eyes bulging, in pursuit of exciting smells and worlds to conquer. Softer pups may be a bit intimidated. Praise and encourage these types with sweet talk and treats. We want the pup to range out and pull a bit.
Once he is accustomed to this, you can start walking in a forward zig-zag pattern, first heading to the far right. As you walk in this direction, pup is usually going in another. When he hits the end of the cord - and this is crucial - right at that moment you will also use a voice command - it can be whatever you choose - we use a singsong "whuuup" call. He should start to respond by turning and coming in your direction. You will reverse this process as you continue to walk forward, and head in the opposite direction, to the far left. As he hits the end of the cord again, at that same moment you will give your voice command - clearly, firmly and in a positive, upbeat manner. Soon he will be turning to your voice. Then you can start to alternate your voice with the whistle. We use our large Acme Thunderer whistle in a "Toooo-whit" call - like a bobwhite quail - with an accent on the second syllable. We call this our come around signal. We don't want the pup to come back to us, we only want him to turn - change direction - while continuing to work ahead of us in a forward pattern. This exercise is called quartering.
Eventually, in months to come, your voice or whistle command will not be necessary, and will be used only when needed. Your goal is to have a partnership with your dog - for him to hunt and yet be aware of where you are, turning when you want him to turn - without lots of shouting, gesturing, and ineffective whistling. After several days or a week of this, your pup should be getting the idea. Don't overdo this with a shy puppy - postpone this quartering groundwork until after the soft pup is enthusiastic about birds.
If you've followed our advice on introducing your pointer pup to birds, in the last issue, you're ready to head to the field now. If not, go back, reread that section, and eval

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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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Phone/Fax 651-636-8045 Adv deadline 1st of the month prior to the issue.