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  1. #1

    Default Recommendations for Training a Bird Dog

    What resources do you recommend for helping my new brittany reach his hunting potential? My first brittany was an amazing pet, but his hunting abilities exceeded my training abilities. This time around, I really want to up my training game.

  2. #2
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    By far the best thing is to find a trainer and have him train you. Books/webpages/etc will only take you so far. It is worth the cost. When I started training labs several years ago, I did it all on my own with my first and I could have shortened up her training time and had her more advanced if I had just gone to the trainer in the first place.
    "There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." ~TR

    "He was a mighty hunter before the Lord." ~Genesis 10:9

  3. #3
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    I'm no expert but short of hiring a trainer the best advice I've been given is to pick a training program and stick with it. Repetition and consistency is everything. An e-collar speeds things up if used properly (i.e. not as a discipline tool).

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 406LIFE View Post
    By far the best thing is to find a trainer and have him train you. Books/webpages/etc will only take you so far. It is worth the cost. When I started training labs several years ago, I did it all on my own with my first and I could have shortened up her training time and had her more advanced if I had just gone to the trainer in the first place.
    Yep. I've been doing it by myself, with help from a local gun dog club (when I can get the time to go out there) and by far, they've been the thing that helps me train the dog.

    The other resources you need to have are patience and kindness, and perhaps the most important one, is patience. she dog won't do what you want and will seem to be disobeying you n purpose, but they're not. They're just puppies who act like puppies. Patience and kindness will do more to reinforce good behavior than an e-collar and a sharp word.
    get over it commies..
    JWP58

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by 406LIFE View Post
    By far the best thing is to find a trainer and have him train you. Books/webpages/etc will only take you so far. It is worth the cost. When I started training labs several years ago, I did it all on my own with my first and I could have shortened up her training time and had her more advanced if I had just gone to the trainer in the first place.
    I'll be joining NAVHDA. Hopefully that puts me in contact with knowledgeable folks who can train me.

  6. #6

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    Just to echo your comment, NAVHDA is your best avenue. You'll find people willing to teach you, and you'll likely meet some professionals that you can hire if your time becomes too thin. Good luck with your pup. The learning years are the best in my opinion. (and possibly the most frustrating, enjoy)

  7. #7

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    Most important thing is to get the gun breaking right. You can fix most other shortcoming/mistakes, but if the dog ends up gun shy that is hard to undo. I am not a fan of banging pans at dinner, etc. I like the approach where one guy keeps the young dog excited about chasing a clipped chukar, while a second guy starts way off in the distance with a 20 ga. The shooter shoots and then moves in, repeatedly, until right next to the dog. If at any time the guy handling the dog senses that the dog has reacted to the gun, or has become bored with the bird, you stop immediately and start over again later. My current dog is not only NOT gun-shy, but she actually runs to the truck every time she hears a gun-like sound -- "hunting time".
    "Freedom is NOT Free"

  8. #8
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    I did something similar with my brittany. My wife stood with him as a pup about 50 yards from me and i fired .22 blanks and she gave him a treat with every shot and proceeded to get closer. We did that several days and you can increase until shotgun is used. My dog shakes and starts panting when guns come out.

    Don't overdue the early training early. The pup will have short attention span. I spent 15 minutes a day every day for first 6+ months on simply retrieval and obedience. Come, sit, stay were the only commands. Retrieval in the beginning was throwing a toy about 2-3 feet away and giving a piece of meat about the size of a kernel of corn with every retrieval. We run our dog a lot too and believe a tired dog is a good dog. It also helps with stamina during bird season. Brittanies are amazing dogs and point naturally from all of my personal experiences so hunting was the easy part.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcola View Post
    Just to echo your comment, NAVHDA is your best avenue. You'll find people willing to teach you, and you'll likely meet some professionals that you can hire if your time becomes too thin. Good luck with your pup. The learning years are the best in my opinion. (and possibly the most frustrating, enjoy)
    X3.

    Never give a command you can't enforce, and don't be afraid to let her drag a check cord around for the first season. Get her used to working with it around her neck and make sure it's stiff enough material so it doesn't bind on brush. Look at it as a 10-15' handle for your dog. ;-)

  10. Default

    Look for a trainer is your best option, then have your dog trained and the last month have the trainer train you. Best leash is, go to your local feed store that sells horse tack and buy a set of leather riens! You won't regret buying the riens.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcola View Post
    Just to echo your comment, NAVHDA is your best avenue. You'll find people willing to teach you, and you'll likely meet some professionals that you can hire if your time becomes too thin. Good luck with your pup. The learning years are the best in my opinion. (and possibly the most frustrating, enjoy)
    X4. Also get a hold of birds. Nothing like using real birds and getting exposure. If you can buy 100 or more Quail chicks and raise them. You will need a brooder and a cage to hold them... if this is possible then great. The more bird exposure the better.

    good luck to all
    the dog
    "it's the HUNT, not the KILL"

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakypete View Post
    Look for a trainer is your best option, then have your dog trained and the last month have the trainer train you. Best leash is, go to your local feed store that sells horse tack and buy a set of leather riens! You won't regret buying the riens.
    Until the dog chews them up.
    Fear the beard....

  13. #13
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    My two cents on the issue :

    1) Join you’re local NAVDHA chapter. It will provide you with knowledge and resources.
    2) Trainer vs no trainer. Depends on you. I have always done my own training, from horses to hunting dogs. I’d rather take classes to help me be a better trainer anyday, but that’s me. YMMV.
    3) Get Charlie Johnson’s book on training Versatile Dogs.
    4) Don’t let ecollars intimidate you. Learn how to use them as a training TOOL and not a punitive device.
    5) Decide what level of performance you expect from your dog, and make a training roadmap. Remember, two years of training can set you up for 10 great years of hunting.
    6) Agree 100% on picking a training method and sticking with it.
    7) First six months is obedience 101. Come, sit, heel. Learn about marker training, it’s incredibly effective. Make your pup earn his food. We do focus training several times a day with food.
    8) Have fun and realize the first year is about exposure and unleashing the genetic potential inside the dog. If the dog isn’t learning, figure out how to train better and create more opportunity to learn.
    Fear the beard....

  14. #14
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    Sending the pup away for training is not a bad option, but I think a better option is to join the local gun dog group and attend every training day you can. Then watch everybody. Its fun watching the dogs work, but it better to watch the handler (the good ones anyway). There are so many subtle cues a handler gives a dog, and consistency in your handling is key.

  15. #15

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    I don't have advice, I just want to wish you and your pup Good Luck and a Good Journey!
    Last edited by Coach Chris; 07-11-2018 at 08:28 PM.

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    I've had my Rien's eights now. If the dog crews them look twice at yourself in the mirror when shaving! A good dog will do what you do or don't train them to do. Mine does! Even after cancer treatments Name:  IMG_2331.jpg
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  17. #17

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    Congrats on the new pup! Always an exciting time! I'm 13 months into training my first dog and these are my thoughts. Mines a pointing retriever so slightly different but same principles.

    -If you're looking for the most cost effective way then send it off to a pro. The amount of hours and gas I have spend far surpass what a pro-trainer would have cost. With that being said I have zero regrets on training my dog my self and I think there's a special bond when it's done from owner to dog.
    -Find a good book/youtube series and follow it exactly. You should be able to get the basics down with youtube.
    -We are at the point now where I don't have the facilities to do some of the finite training (water swim by... I don't have access to a good technical pond) so I will send him off when that is needed. Don't be afraid to send him off for a short time if needed on a certain aspect of training.
    -Get involved in a local club, and ask lots of questions. I don't know how many times we've been struggling on a concept and I ask a few guys I know and they offer up a different drill or a different philosophy that the dog takes much better.
    -Force Fetch your dog. Just do it, you won't regret it... I don't get why it's optional in some peoples minds... why would you not?
    -If you you decide not to breed, look at the research for spaying/neutering prior to 2 years. Whats best for the overall dog species... might not be whats best for YOUR DOG! If you do decide to breed get health certs and make sure you are bettering the breed.
    -Lots of birds in the upland training field. Get ready to pay $30/training session (6 birds @ $5). Get them on birds as much as you can afford, and early. Don't force it with mechanisms and training tools... let the dog figure it out... they were bred for this!


    Enjoy the process... I've had a blast and can't wait to start another pup.

    Here's my Tahoe... he's a JH and CPR... going for Masters and GM this fall!

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ttannahill14 View Post
    With that being said I have zero regrets on training my dog my self and I think there's a special bond when it's done from owner to dog.
    This is a very overlooked aspect of doing your own training. I also concur with the force fetch training. Not only will putting a dog through FF make for a much better dog, it will make you a much better trainer. This part of the training is all about consistency, building foundations, and not jumping ahead too quickly. That is why so many folks struggle with this. If your dog is struggling with FF, it's probably you, and you'll learn some invaluable things about yourself as a trainer and a handler.

    Granted, bird dog training is not for everyone, but if you are fair, consistent, and patient, you will have a working bond with your dog like no other.
    Fear the beard....

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