Summertime Bird Dog Training

June 16, 2010 by

This class has everything from gun dogs to show champions intent on becoming duel champions to NSTRA competitors to all age horseback field trialers.  With the wide variety of dogs, it is important that our training format is tailored to fit each individual needs and goals.  Not only do we address the mental and physical needs of the dogs everyday in their training, but we also keep in mind the ultimate performance goal for each dog.  We are reminded each day that our success as trainers depends solely on the satisfaction of each client’s goals.

We spent the first month of our training program developing solid foundations on all of the dogs.  Morning sessions around RSK typically begin about 6:00 am with cleaning kennels, catching pigeons, caring for the animals, and prepping for the day’s workouts.  During the Foundation Level we begin with our lessons checkcording dogs in to birds.  This exercise allows us to work to build cues for dogs to go with us and come to us, as well as giving each dog an opportunity to point a pigeon and have multiple opportunities to honor other dog’s point.  When each dog either points or backs, the trainers quietly work up the checkcord and kneel beside the dog to hold them during the flush.  This allows us to begin molding the dog’s behavior around birds and at the same time pre-conditions the flank as a point of contact for standing still.

Pre-conditioning the flank as the dog is held steady through the flush

Our afternoon sessions during the Foundation Level of training concentrate on developing a point of contact for stopping.  This is accomplished by teaching the dog’s on the whoa post. This drill gives us a controlled environment in which to develop a conditioned response to stop. The principle behind the whoa post is cue to stop, release, and wait for the dog’s acknowledgement. Repetition of this drill builds a conditioned response so that a dog will stop without even thinking about it. We feel this is the best and most reliable method of teaching a dog whoa. We like our bird dogs to be intense on their birds. With this Foundation a dog thoroughly understands the cue from the e-collar and therefore complies to a low level cue without ever loosing intensity or becoming confused.

English Setter focuses on a pigeon as it flushes

The month of June will be centered on the Intermediate Level of training.  During this level of training we are transitioning all of the mechanical cues of the rope to the remote cue of the e-collar.  This is where the real fun begins!  This month we will be able to turn dogs loose and “take the chase,” “stop the creep,” and steady the dogs using the e-collar. While dogs are with us we work on the individual as a whole, therefore we will be working to instill manners around people, including off lead heeling.

We are really enjoying working with our first class and looking forward to their future! The second training class which begins on August 2, 2010 is already full. We are taking Reservations for our wild bird training, both in Montana during September and in Texas during the hunting season. Space is very limited, so please let us know soon if you would like us to take your dog along on any of these available training opportunities.

As always, remember a dog is like a book…all you have to do is learn to read!

Smith bred Brittany focused on a bird

A Smith bred Brittany focuses on the bird as it flies

Posted in: Bird Dog Training

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