Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Post season training

Well, the season has finally come to an end. What are we going to do for the next 8 months? Seems like forever. Forever is gone for me starting next week. I'm going to stay low for the rest of this week and let my body heal from the season's workout. It probably won't hurt my dogs to have a weeks rest either. It's a good time for a good cleaning of my shotguns, dog collars, hunting vest, and the rest of my hunting items. Oh, and I might start that list of items I need for next season because I either lost the ones I had (gloves, whistle, etc.) or they wore out. My truck could use some cleaning and a few screws tightened. And there are a few miscellaneous chores I have ignored around the house for four months to catch up on. Wow! A week can sure go by fast.

So we're all rested up now. What comes next? Myself, I go back to the chukar hills. Can you think of a better place to work with your dog? This is where he developed some bad habits towards the end of the season so why not undevelope them here. And besides, you're doing yourself a favor by keeping in shape with your dog.

The biggest problem I usually have at the end of the season is sloppy points. Early in the season Riley and Dakota would let me walk past them on point and flush the birds without moving a muscle. By the end of the season they would point until I got to them and than move with me to the flush. I know this was my fault. I let them get away with it because I was so intent on getting the birds. Early in the season the birds held better so I wasn't quite as concerned about running birds. It's always been a easy fix for me. I take the dogs back to the hunting grounds and walk them just like we are hunting. Dogs are in full dress, just like hunting season. Sometimes I take a camera and sometimes I take a blank gun. When the dogs find and point birds I act as though I was actually hunting them. If the dogs move I nick them with the collar. After I flush the birds I go on to the next covey and do the same. By the next point they are usually back to themselves. At this time I walk around them trying not to flush the birds and kick at different bushes or the ground. Anything that might make them move. If they move I nick them. It only takes one or two trips to have their point back to staunch points like I want. But don't stop at that. Keep working with them two or three times a week until the nesting season. What better way to enjoy the outdoors and your dog than this.

There are lots of problems that can be worked out this time of the year. Maybe you might want to work on reining your dog in. It's a lot easier now then when you're hunting. And a lot less frustrating. I always save a couple of birds and freeze them. On some of my trips I'll take the bird in my vest and when we flush a pointed covey I throw the bird when my dogs aren't looking and fire my blank pistol. I then say dead bird and point in the direction I threw the bird. My dogs aren't trained as well as retrievers are to react to directions, but a few calls of their name and point which direction I want them to go and they eventually come up with the bird. This also serves to let the dog know that when there is a shot there is usually a dead bird. (I wish)

No matter what problem your pooch has developed it can be worked out. There is no special way to train a bird dog. The best way is to know what you expect of your dog and then go out and spend some time showing him. The instincts are there. Spend a lot of time in the same type of country that you wll be hunting. Your dog will figure out how to find birds easier that way. Wild birds are the best trainers. Get out where the wild birds are in the early spring. Learn more about your dog and let him figure out what you want. Your dog will appreciate it and so will your heart.

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