If you want your new pup to become your favorite pheasant hunting buddy, you'll need to invest a fair amount of time during the off-season training and conditioning your pup. The good news is that you can train many different breeds to hunt birds, including pheasant, ducks, quail, doves and more. There are two different parts to this training: one, to flush out the birds so you have something to shoot at and two, to fetch your kills.
Whether you train your pup to just flush them out or to retrieve as well is up to you, but in most cases, you will find teach him both at the same time may be your best option. For your pup, the concept of hunting, flushing out, and, in nature, killing prey is quite natural. However, after decades of domestication, most dogs now need to be trained to hunt.
Hunting pheasant includes more than one action. You must teach your pup to recognize the scent of his quarry, learn to locate and follow a trail, flush out the birds, track the downed bird, and return it to you. All of this while not barking and while not being startled by the sound of your gunshot. Now, that's quite a lot isn't it? Or at least it sounds like a lot, but some of this is nothing more than an extension of the basic commands he should already have mastered.
During this training, your goal is not only to have your pup locate the birds and flush them out for you, he will need to learn not to destroy them when he brings them back to you. The sooner you start working on this training the faster your pup will learn what is expected of him. The rest is up to you. You must be ready to invest a lot of time in this training and be patient, but it will pay off in the end.
Before you start training your pup to hunt pheasant, he will need to have mastered basic commands like 'stop', 'sit', 'stay', 'fetch', 'come', and 'down'. You will also need to have trained him not to be gun shy by the time you are ready to go hunting, and you will need a few supplies:
The most important thing to remember is that this is going to take a lot of time if you want to train a highly-skilled bird dog. In fact, some experts say it can take more than a couple of years for your dog to master the skills. Always remember you should continue training your dog during the off-season to keep his skills fully honed and ready to go.
Good pup who has good days and bad days of retrieving. Main issue is that she's not finishing the retrieve. She fetches hard and runs back hard...only to break off 5-10 yards shy of me...and then trots around yard with dummy wanting to play, chew, etc. She's better when she has a long lead on but trying to wean from that. I'll take all the guidance I can get.
Hello Steve, There are a couple of ways to do this. First, if you haven't transitioned to a check cord start there. A check cord is a long leash that easily rolls through the grass and doesn't have a handle on it. It gives pup a bit more freedom and the feeling of being more off-leash but allows you to enforce commands still. Practicing retrieves while pup wears a check cord lets you calmly walk up to the cord, pick up the end and reel pup in anytime pup doesn't complete the retrieve. When pup comes every time on the check cord, transition to a shorter check cord, going from a 30'-50' check cord to a 10' check cord as pup improves. For some dogs doing retrieves on a check cord consistently enough will be enough (we are talking hundreds of retrieves), but for many dogs teaching an e-collar come will also be needed. Check out James Penrith from taketheleaddogtraining on YouTube - he has several videos discussing e-collar recalls. You will need to learn things like what brands are good (sportdog, dogtra, garmin, and e-collar technologies), how to properly fit a remote training collar (e-collar), how to find your dog's working level - which is the lowest level a specific dog responds to, and how to train using an e-collar (which should involve using your long leash again to offer pup guidance - showing pup at first that they should come when they feel the correction - if they don't without it). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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He likes to hunt and quarters well. Once the bird is down he isn’t into the retrieve. Any ideas on what can be done to get him interested in retrieving?
Hello Darwin, Typically, you would practice with a real dead bird or even a constrained live bird to encourage interest. If you are already using real birds, then you will need to force fetch him to teach him to retrieve. The retrieval is instinctual for most retrievers and what is already there is simply encouraged by doing things like using live birds, keeping the training fun while first starting out, and socializing around birds as puppies. Try adding some movement to the dead birds and use real birds not bumpers for a while during practice, even ones that were previously frozen should work, as long as they are fully intact with head, wings, and feathers. If that does not work you will need to force fetch him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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