You now have your puppy and you're ready to get started training.
Remember all of these skills are meant to build on top of one another. This is the foundation and it does not happen overnight, however with the right amount of time a hunting machine can be developed. Remember, because this is the foundation in which other building blocks are laid upon, often a lot of these are happening simultaneously so do not be afraid to go through this course for your own understanding and refer back to individual sections as needed.
Step 1: Developing Control
We often say we would much rather have a dog that is in control and finds less birds than a dog who finds 5xs the birds but cannot be handled resulting in no shots . It is time to start honing in and developing control. You can tie multiple things together, including more commands during this time that can help the growth of your dog all while maintaining and developing control that ensure good habits.
In the video, our puppy example was about 4 months old, at this age attention spans are relatively small but remember the whole goal here is for your puppy to get used to listening to you.
This looks a little different from pointer to retriever, so please use the video accordingly below.
Step 2: Quartering
One thing that can be a simple drill while out for walks while continuing to develop control is Quartering. This is really the beginning of your dog understanding how to make hunting moves. This can be done early on while having lots of control. Open fields with short grass are the best place to perform this drill.
Now that you understand, check out the live video below.
Here is another look and below how your hands should look
Compare it to the wrong way below.
Step 3: Intro to Birds
Now that your dog has some control features and has made it past some of the growing pains of being a true baby. You can begin moving into what everyone wants to see, the hunt. Bird introduction is something that is critical for the development of drive in bird dogs. The last thing you want is a dog that is shy when it comes to birds. Below is going to help guide you through all of the proper techniques to do so.
Our techniques are slightly different when it comes to a pointer vs a retriever so please adjust accordingly below and of course we are starting with dead birds.
Don’t be afraid to really get them familiar with the dead bird. Oftentimes it takes a little extra shake of coaxing to get them fired up, use your voice inflection to get them extra excited. Make this a fun game that they want to play over and over.
Step 4: Live Bird Intro
Once your pup is effectively retrieving that dead bird it is time to move onto the real deal. The live bird introduction. Live birds have a different feeling than dead and this is an important step in fostering the drive.
Establishing the point
One thing we have learned over the years is pointers really have three instinctual genetics. We tend to categorize them as point, chase, and retrieve. As you get more familiar with your dog their tendencies will begin to show themselves. Here is one thing to note, pointing is the most important genetic trait in this whole arsenal. We oftentimes can fix their ability to retrieve and we can build drive early on but handlers can often take away from a puppies ability to point. So, if things aren't going well in the pointing department and it seems as if your dog just wants to flush the bird and chase it then don’t be afraid to send them back to the couch and wait for their maturity to increase to where their pointing instinct comes out a little more. Teach them how to point and continue to foster it as they grow older.
Checkout the full drill example below and how we reward the dog for good performance.
In a more advanced form As we mentioned, pointing is the most important thing for the bird dog so make sure to reach out if you have any questions.
Step 5: Whoa
Now for the introduction of the single handed most important command in your upland dog arsenal. Whoa. This should be done as your pup has begun to mature a bit. Typically this happens around 7-10 months but again it is all subject to the maturity in the dog. We are starting this without a collar and in later courses we are going to introduce the collar and begin to layer it in for further distances and better control. The premise of “Whoa” is this, when we say stop this means stop. There are multiple methods you can likely use to enforce whoa but we are going to show you how each trainer goes about whoa training.
Part two you will find in the field ready course as it pertains to layering in the command with the e-collar.
Here are some good examples of the entire drill:
about the whoa command slightly differently. We really aren't sure there is any “right” way to get this but rather what fits your style the best.
The half hitch may be an important part
of this whoa command and teaching it so below are close up examples of how to do it with both a long lead and a short. If you are lacking control on walks you can also implement this technique.
Now that you have been through the entire started dog course you should be ready to go to the next step and start getting your dog into the more advanced stages of training that typically comes just before or after a year old. Time for the field.