We all know the joy a dog can bring into our lives. During our time spent together, memories are created and cherished. When pet owners find that one of their hobbies align with that of their pet’s, the bond between man and beast becomes stronger.
Some future pet-owners search for a dog that loves to run if they are avid marathoners. Others, who prefer to describe themselves as film-buffs, may look for a smaller dog who loves to cuddle in front of the television. Likewise, hunters may search for the perfect hunting companion.
Bird hunting specifically is a popular sport for dogs and has been for hundreds of years. When training bird hunting to a dog, there are three key concepts for them to learn: tracking, flushing and retrieving.
Tracking calls for a bird dog to silently follow the scent of birds, while flushing involves scaring a flock out of its hiding for you to aim and shoot. Retrieving, the final moment of a dog’s hunting tasks, requires them to retrieve any fallen birds and bring them to you.
There are a few scenarios in which you may be considering training an older dog to bird hunt. You could have just recently gotten into the sport yourself and want to train your long-time furry friend to join you or maybe you’re in the market for a new pet and hoping to adopt an older dog.
In either regard, your end goal is to experience some memory-making in the great outdoors with your dog. Don’t feel discouraged by popular bird hunting blogs that say training a puppy is the only way to obtain a “real” bird-hunting dog. In fact, in some ways training an older dog, you will find, is easier than gaining the trust and attention of an excitable puppy.
Taking on training a dog, no matter the age, is always a process and sometimes a few tools are needed to help you. Before getting started, consider purchasing one or more items to aid you:
While bird hunting breeds, such as the spaniels and pointers, may have innate abilities and talents when it comes to sniffing out and retrieving birds, it’s not necessary for every bird-hunting canine to come from these revered breeds.
A lot of what hunters look for in their bird-hunting companions is restraint and obedience, which every dog can gain. However, to instill these traits, as a trainer, you will need to be both patient and consistent.
Inconsistency while training an animal will only confuse them and lead to adverse results. This means keeping to a schedule, routine and the task of punishment and reward is beneficial to both you and your dog.
Dog loves to fetch and retrieve - so much so that when it's out in the field it's looking for me to throw something that she can retrieve. She's not hunting just waiting for me to kick up a bird and shoot it. She stays real close (within 10 feet) unless she is on a scent. Then she may go after the trail.
Hello! This process takes many steps, but it sounds like you are already halfway there. I am sending you a wonderful link full of information on how to teach your dog to hunt. The first half talks about the puppy stage, which you can skip. But the rest of it is great! There is too much for me to put in this box, which is why I am sending a link. If you have any additional questions after reading the article, please feel free to reach out again. https://thehuntingjack.com/how-to-train-your-dog-to-hunt/
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I have hunted duck for most of my bird hunting, my girlfriend's family hunts dove and pheasant. Is there a significant difference? Can I train my dog to hunt both? If not which would be a better option (joke question there, I will probably hunt with her family)?
Hello Nolan, Many hunting dogs can successfully be trained on both. Genetics will effect how skillful many dogs are at both - a retriever will probably handle swimming in cold water for retrievals better than some upland field breeds like pointers, and a flushing breed be better at pointing and alerting than a retriever, but many hunters do utilize their duck dogs for upland bird retrieval and the dogs do well. Just spend time training the dog in both environments since the environments and skills are a bit different from each other. If you already have a well trained dog, I would stick with the dog you have for now, and add upland work training. If not, or later when you get ready to add a dog, you might want to consider a breed that will genetically be most likely to succeed in the environment you plan to be in most (a retriever for ducks or pointer or setter for upland for example), so that the task you are using the dog for most often is the task that dog is most capable of doing, then cross-train the dog on the secondary task as well - knowing they can do both but they may not be quite as good at that secondary task. Also, certain breeds are more suited to be all-around dogs because they were bred to handle multiple things. A little research into breed history can help with choosing a breed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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