When most people think of hunting dogs, they picture a Spaniel, a Retriever or a Pointer, but a Poodle is not the first thing that comes to mind! However, the smart, athletic Poodle is a hunting dog, bred for centuries to be used as a working breed in Europe.If you are planning on training a Poodle to use as a bird hunting dog, be sure it is a Standard Poodle. The Standard Poodle has just the right combination of prey drive and natural retrieving ability to make an excellent bird hunting companion. Poodles are very versatile and can be used as water dogs or upland bird flushers/retrievers. While water dogs usually retrieve ducks, geese, and other waterfowl that have been harvested by hunters, upland bird dogs locate and flush birds such as quail, pheasant, grouse, and partridge from heavy brush or cover so hunters can shoot the game. The dog then retrieves the downed bird and brings it to his handler.
As with many complex skills, bird hunting is best started with a young dog whose natural abilities can be shaped. Older dogs can also learn to bird hunt, but may require more patience. Poodles are intelligent and sensitive, responding best to positive reinforcement. If you are using your Poodle as a water dog, you will need to get him used to working in water. Start with safe bodies of water to create a positive experience for your Poodle. Expose your dog to wilderness terrain and gunfire. Poodles tend to quarter naturally and have a good prey drive, so are motivated to locate and flush game birds. Retrieving downed game on command will require teaching your dog to wait while game is downed and then respond to a command to retrieve birds when released. They'll then fetch the bird either in thick brush or water, retrieving it unmangled, and return it to the handler. Motivate your dog to perform this task, teach him to fetch, and reward retrieving behaviors.