How to Train Your Dog to Dove Hunt

Hard
2-4 Months
Work

Introduction

Love to hunt doves, ducks, turkeys and other fowl but getting tired of having to retrieve your own birds? Maybe your hunting buddies have dogs that have been trained to dove hunt and now you are planning to buy a pup to train. But, if you want your dog to become your best hunting buddy, you will need to invest in a certain amount of training. Even the best retriever had to be taught how to do what they should know how to do instinctively.

The good news is that, for the most part, training your dog to dove hunt is very similar to teaching him how to play fetch. But at the same time, like any other type of training, you need to be patient as it can take some time before your furry friend knows what he is expected to do and will bring back your kill every time unmolested.

Defining Tasks

This task is a little more complex than most as your dog will need to know how to track the quarry as it falls to the ground, how to find it on the ground, how to pick it up, and how to bring it back to you in one piece. Before you can teach your dog to "hunt" he must know the basic commands, ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, ‘fetch’, and ‘heel’. As always, be sure to reward good behavior with treats and plenty of praise. Your dog will also need to be used to the sound of gunshots at close quarters.

To do this, start by having an assistant hold your dog while you go far enough away for your dog to hear your gunshots. Watch how he reacts to it and keep moving in until he gets used to the noise. You won't be able to hunt with him until he can sit or lie next to you without moving a muscle when you pull the trigger. Be patient as this can take a while, depending on your dog's breed and nature.

Getting Started

To start with your dog needs three things: to be comfortable being out in nature, to be comfortable going out in and swimming in water, and to be unfazed each time you pull the trigger. At the same time, you are going to need a few things of your own. These include a quiet place to start the training, an area with doves, your shotgun and shells, training decoys, and plenty of treats and patience.

If you are going to train your dog to hunt doves, you must work with him to ensure he knows how hard to bite down on his prey so that he does not damage your birds. You may also find it helps to use more than one training method to ensure your pup knows exactly what to do in most situations. One last thing to keep in mind is that it could easily take several hunting seasons before your pup masters the fine art of hunting with you. Finally, always make sure you bring plenty of water and find a shady place to wait.

The No Gun at First Method

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Step
1
No gun needed
For the first part of training, head out to hunt with your buddies. Take your dog out in the field, but leave your gun at home.
Step
2
Set for success
Find a corner of your hunting field that is shady and quiet while your hunting buddies find a spot to hunt.
Step
3
Drop in the right spot
Try to have your friends drop their doves where your dog can see them land and use your ‘retrieve’ command to encourage him to bring back the doves. Be sure to reward him when he does.
Step
4
Keep it under control
As tempting as it might be to send your dog after each bird, let him take a break between retrieves. Give him time to rest, cool off, and get a drink of water.
Step
5
Finally, it's your turn
At the end of the day, try hunting a few doves of your own and see if your dog will retrieve them. Be sure to offer lots of praise for his successes along with plenty of treats.
Recommend training method?

The Decoy Method

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Step
1
The introduction
Your dog needs to know the difference between a decoy and the real thing. Set up a series of decoys far away from your dog.
Step
2
Toss the dummy
Toss the dove-scented dummy and give your pup the command to retrieve. When he brings back the dummy, be sure to reward him.
Step
3
Move to the water
Now start tossing the dummies out in the water and work with your dog on retrieving until he brings it back each time. This is the perfect time for rewards and plenty of praise.
Step
4
Expose your dog
Expose your dog to a number of hunting situations so that he can get used to working around gunshots and watch other dogs in action. The more exposure your dog gets to hunting, the less the noise and confusion will affect him.
Step
5
Time to hunt
Now it's your turn to break out the shotgun and try shooting a dove or two out of the sky for your dog to retrieve. When he gets it right and brings you a fresh, undamanged dove, be sure to give lots of praise and treats.
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The Handler Method

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Step
1
No gun allowed
Start by leaving your gun in the truck, you won't need it at first.
Step
2
Leash and heel
Have your dog on a leash and in the heel position.
Step
3
Let your buddy shoot
Have your buddy go on the other side of the field and shoot a bird. When it falls, release your dog and give him the ‘retrieve’ command.
Step
4
Repeat
You should plan several hunting trips like this to get your dog used to hunting and retrieving before you go out to actually do your own hunting.
Step
5
Off-leash at last
Once your pup can hold still on his own, remove the leash and try again. If he moves, correct him and put him back on the leash, then repeat the process until he successfully retrieves the birds with every kill.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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