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.
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.
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.
I am about too buy a black lab that I want too make my hunting dog
What age should it be when I start training it ?
Hello Grant, I would recommend starting as early as eight or nine weeks on basic obedience, like come and sit, socialization, to get him comfortable around different people, animals, sights, sounds, surfaces, and environments. Before he has his shots you can carry him places to get him used to things and let him explore in areas where other dogs haven't been. Contact with the ground where other disease carrying animals have been is how he can catch things like parvo, so avoiding contact with the ground should protect him from most things while allowing him to go places with you. You can also introduce him to water and frozen dead birds or bird wings at a very young age also, to prevent fear of them. Keep the training positive and fun for the first six months. At six months of age can you start on more drill-like serious training, but continue to make it as fun as you can. If you start right away with foundation work like socializing and obedience, then by six months of age your puppy could know things like come, sit, down, out, confidence around obstacles, birds, and water, and even early scent work. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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shiner can hunt hogs but simes to have trouble when it comes to bird hunting not the gun shots but the finding the birds and bringing it back most of the time when he fineds the bird he eats it or only brings it half way now he will play fetch all day with no problem any idea on what to do to get him to always find and bring the bird back
Hello Aaron, First, know that based on pup's breeds the issues you are having are not surprising. Most bird hunting dogs are naturally bred with a soft mouth and that tendency to hold things gently strongly encouraged during their first year of life - your pup may not naturally have that trait. Breeds like retrievers will be more likely to bring a bird back automatically. The skills needed for bird hunting are very different than hog hunting - but that doesn't mean pup can't learn. It will just take more training and work. I suggest only practicing bird retrievals with right now with pup on a long check cord, using frozen birds. You want the bird cold and hard enough still that pup can pick it up but won't find it tempting to press teeth into the bird. Whenever pup stops coming with the bird or begins chewing it, give a tug on the check cord to bring him the rest of the way to you. You need to practice a ton of repetitions with a check cord before starting in the field with real birds. As pup improves and the biting has gotten better, I would look into force fetching pup. Because your dog's breed isn't a natural retriever, you will probably have to force fetch them to get a consistent retrieval in the field with birds. Check forums like the ones I have linked below for resources on teaching these types of things: https://www.retrievertraining.net/forums/showthread.php?61196-bird-dog-eating-birds http://gundogforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37355 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN5RkNdioJU https://www.ducks.org/hunting/retriever-training/preventing-hard-mouth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyADULYs8oc Finally, once pup is fetching birds to hand and not chomping, I would work on hiding birds close by and letting pup find them. Start by having an assistant toss a dead bird into the air and giving pup a fetch type command and releasing pup after the bird has landed. As pup improves, wait a bit longer before releasing so that he remembers less where the bird fell and has to use his nose more. Eventually hide a bird somewhere close by without pup seeing it first, and command pup to fetch, guiding him to the bird if he can't find it on his own - you want to make sure pup succeeds though at this point in the training. As pup improves, you will make the hides further away and should give less help as he gets to the point where he is using his nose on his own better. It takes a very good nose to find birds - so there is also the possibility that the scent of the bird is not strong enough for him to always track it well - practice will tell. A hog's scent is a trail along the ground and generally a much stronger scent so a dog doesn't have to have as specialized of a nose to track a hog in many cases - they do need extra courage and tenacity for hogs though - which your dog was bred for. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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