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rainylakefisher

Dog Won't Roam for Birds??

10 posts in this topic

Normally I hear stories about getting a dog to stay closer, but I have the opposite problem. My young (9 months old) golden retriever went on her first pheasant hunting experience and spent most of the day walking on my heels rather than searching. She seemed totally content to just follow me. How do I get her to roam and 'find the bird'?

I did get one rooster, thanks to another dog, and I took the wings and cape from that to use as a training aid. I've been placing them around the yard and helping her get in the area to find each one, repeatedly saying 'find the bird', with ample praise when she does. Any other tips you can share?

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I have a golden as well, 3 years old. I live in the city and walk him twice daily. Since day one he has walked in front of me (as opposed to on 'heal') - I've never walked in front of him on our walks...he stops to pee, so do I (I don't lift my leg, tho) grin.gif For me, this has translated into him always wanting to walk in front of me in the field.

Failin'

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Your Golden is still a baby. Give her some encouragement and patience. Once the light goes on she'll get after 'em.

If it keeps up, consider hitting a game farm where the birds are sure to be out in front.

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Quote:

I have the opposite problem. My young (9 months old) golden retriever went on her first pheasant hunting experience


That says it all. Experience, experience, experience. If the pup hasn't done it before and the whole thing is new, that can be an uncomfortable situation and it was doing what he/she knew best and that was staying next/close to you. Give the dog time and the more experience it has afield the more comfortable it will be in the hunting situation and his confidence, field awareness and hunting instincts should come out pretty naturally. 1st time though, it's tough to have any expectations.

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I would not be to concerned. A number of my dogs have spent the first half of their first season walking behind me or next to me. Some where along the line the light clicks on and they learn the differance between hunting and the daily walk.

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I am working with a 9 month old Yellow lab (pointing lineage) and he has had exactly two days afield so far. First day all his work was done at "heel", much to my dismay, but I understand it is all new to him. By the end of the second day out, he had started to roam out front and start to get the picture a little bit. This is my third dog I have trained for pheasants, I think each dog is on thier own slightly different time frame, but they all evenutally get it with some experience.........

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Its takes time but heres how you give the dog a head start from day one. When you let your dog out of the kennel or house do use a command for that time he gets to run or poddy break? You should be. Thats a lot of repetition and conditioning your missing out on if your not. Hunting and that free time are the same thing to a dog, your letting him know its OK to hunt know. You use that same command when you want him to get out and hunt.

Assuming the dogs been retrieving, put the dog out of site then take his dummy and drag it around the yard. Give him that command you've used and get him on the scent. Make it easy at first and work him into the wind. He'll find it. Keep doing that and keep using that command. Make it harder by zig zags, longer scent trails and into tall grass. The dog is on his way to becoming a hunter.

When your out in the field give the command(same command you use when you let him out. Now follow the dog. Won't go? Give the command again and point him off. Keep it slow so that the dog can work. Go too fast and the dog won't/can't quarter. Don't walk trails with a young dog, it'll only teach him to walk down the trail. Hunting with a seasoned dog can be good for the pup but it can be a distraction too, so can another hunter for that matter. I'd get the dog out with yourself. When your not hunting but traveling put the dog on heal. He'll get to know that your not hunting and won't associate that fast straight line walk with hunting. A dog should never be allowed to walk ahead of its master when just walking. He belongs on heal and needs you to to take charge and put him there.

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RaineyLakeFisher,

Harmonica's got it right... lack of confidence and needs experience.

Frank's got it right too. A command is very helpful when teaching a dog to hunt cold or hunt dead.

I've posted often that dogs need a lot of birds early in the formative training. Dead frozen birds even work well to 'grease the wheel'. It starts as easy as hiding a frozen bird in short cover and working him into the wind saying 'huntem up', or 'find it' or whatever command you choose. Then as he begins to understand what the command means, place two out in the cover and eventually three. Always quarter him into the wind when working with him. As he finds one and brings it back to you, get him hunting again and drop the one he retrieved behind you and you can now reverse course and have an endless stream of birds for him to find. Eventually a dozen or so finds will be a great 20 minute training session. He now understands a command to 'hunt', he has confidence and will rely on his nose, and you have him out in front putting those 2 parts to the task.

The next step for me, would be a game farm or some game farm birds, chuckars work great, but pigeons are O.K. too. Show him a live bird to get him excited about it and to get some of that live bird scent in his nose. Let him chase a winged clip one around in some cover so he begins to rely on his nose more and more. After he catches that bird, plant some others in very specific areas so he can be worked into each area to insure success in finding all of them. We aren't hunting, we're training. Make it a big deal each time he flushes one. Shoot them and let him retrieve them. After he retrieves it, set him at heal and throw it again into some cover and command 'find it'... tell him how good he is when he brings it back... now immediatley begin working him towards the next bird on command... for these situations I put the birds 50-60 yards apart. I like a short successful hunt... 6 birds in 30-45 minutes... lots of praise, lots of bird contact. Save those chuckars for the freezer and work him often during the week to keep building on his new found love of finding birds in the grass.

Next step is to take him out on some wild birds in a 'big' field... try to get him to hunt cold again on command. Keep him in front of you by changing dirrections if he gets behind you. Hopefully he gets on some wild birds and all he's been trained on keeps progressing. If you hunt for more than a 20-30 minute period without a bird or whenever you see him sliding into a disinterested mode, drop a frozen one (or one you've already shot) that you conveniently have in your vest behind you and turn him back in that direction after 30-40 yards. Command him to 'find it'. Get him to find that bird and tell him he's good and hunt on. Keep his spirits up and build up his confidence that he can do it and you will have your bird machine in no time at all.

I'd avoid hunting him with other dogs right now until you are sure that he is ready to hunt on his own. I've seen the competition of other dogs shut a dog down if they lack confidence. Sometimes you can get away with it if they live together in the same house... then they trust and mimic their peer(s), but just throwing a buddy's dog in the ring with yours will probably not help in the long run.

I got your e-mail... if you have any other questions just fire them off and I will do my best to answer them.

Good Luck!

Ken

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A little more info might be needed for a good solution. How much if any training has the dog had? Has it been introduced to birds or is this the first time out? Don't feel bad, many guys can't devote the time and money into starting a dog the way pro's do. There are many things you can still do to correct the problem. My theory is birds, birds, and more birds.

CW

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Labs nailed it. The command I use is "hunt 'em up." When my dog hears that, he knows what he is supposed to do. You must be patient, With retrievers, some get it right away and with some, it can take a couple of years. Yes, years. If your dog is following you, change speed and directions to get him away from you. Praise him when he does "hunt." Birds are the key. You need to either get to an area with a ton of birds, or go to a game farm. It is tough to teach them in the areas of MN where you walk all day to see one bird. The only other advise I give people on young dogs is that once they get it, I think it is OK to let them hunt a little wild to really get them charged up about birds. Yes, they will cost you a bird or two when they get out to far, but it is much easier to reel them in than it is to get them off of your heals. Some may disagree, but I find it to really work well. After all, a hard charging dog that costs you a few birds will also get more birds up within range than a dog that just follows you.

Birds, birds, birds will solve your problem. She just needs to figure out what you want her to do and then let the instincts take over.

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