that you are hopefully well on your way with your dog as a useful
hunting partner that hunts with you, finds birds for you and brings them
back when, or maybe if, you hit them.
Nothing can make a person prouder
than to have someone express admiration for your bird dog's work,
especially if you have trained the dog yourself. Alot of that
admiration, especially if you hunt with other folks and their dogs can
from from an experienced hunter noticing the things that your dog DOES
NOT do in the field as much as from the more tangible things that a good
dog will do.
How a dog handles itself when
hunting around another dog is a large part of that and there can
obviously be a myriad of problems arising when dogs are put down
together. There is much truth to the old saw that "he who hunts
with 2 dogs hunts with half a dog and he who hunts with 3 dogs, hunts
with no dogs!!" especially when the dogs are young and
inexperienced. What this refers to is the fact that having more than one
dog down at a time does not necessarily put more birds in your bag.
Having a pair of well-trained dogs
down should enhance your enjoyment of the hunt, regardless of the bag.
One aspect that will impact how much shooting you get is how your dog
reacts to another dog on point. This can be a very delicate area of bird
dogging as obviously, you will not keep many hunting partners if your
dog steals the point of your buddies dog or worse, simply
"torpedoes" the other dog's find out of the county before
anyone can get into position for a shot at the bird or birds.
It is simply bad form on the part
of the dog who will not honor that can lead to even worse behavior on
the part of the dog who has his birds stolen by some nit-witted or
coniving bracemate. A dog so treated will not stand for very much of
seeing the other guy have all the fun chasing the birds up and once that
game is on, you might as well head to the truck and go find a nice piece
of pie and some coffee because your chances of seeing many birds in gun
range for the rest of that day are slim and none.
I would like to give you a
sure-fire method for teaching your dog to honor another dog's point by
stopping and pointing a safe distance off and staying there until that
piece of bird work is finished. This really kind of fun and if you are
like me and live in town, you can do virtually all of this training
right in your yard.
What you will need for this is a
life sized plywood cut-out of a dog on point, painted to match your
favorite dog place on a pedestal so it will stand upright on the ground.
You will also need a supply of strong pigeons and a bird launcher helps
First, realize that all pointing
is a reflex reaction. All animals point when startled, I bet YOU have
pointed many times today. When can use the enhanced level of this
instinctive reaction to help train your dog to stop on a time whenever
he see another dog on point.
Here is how we begin. Take your
"dummy-dog" and set it out in your back yard on a nice day in
such a position that as you come around the corner of your house from
the front yard, the dog is confronted with a full side view of this
strange dog pointing in his back yard. Take a pigeon and put it in a
launcher or just dizzy it good and hide it in the grass just behind the
dummy. (Yes, I let my grass grow to un-PC heights for much of the
summer. The neighbors don't even stare anymore!)
Go get your dog and put him on a
leash and heel him out the front door. Heel on lead right along the side
of your house to the backyard so that your dog cannot see the dummy
until he rounds the corner of your house and steps into the back yard.
I can almost gaurantee that your
dog will lock up tight the instant he sees this other dog on point,
regardless of whether or not he has ever seen another dog on point or
not. If you have trained your dog on "whoa" before you do
this, you job is about over as soon as your dog locks up on this strange
site in his yard. Simply command the dog to "whoa" and praise
quietly for a few moments. Then simply move forward to the dummy and
flush the bird. Knock the dummy down to the ground as the bird flies off
and fire a blank, praise your dog and pet him up and then heel him back
into the house and go have a beer. Repeat this several times in slightly
different scenarios around the house over the course of a week and then
move the whole set up to a training field.
I like to do this training is a
large alfalfa field in the summer where the farmer rolls up those
car-sized round bales and leaves them sitting around every 50 yards or
I hide my dummy behind a bale with
a bird and hunt my dog up through as normal. Preferably approach upwind
so the dog cannot scent the bird or the dummy as he hunts. The dog comes
round a bale and gets a surprise, there is his chipboard and spray paint
kennel mate pointing a bird again, out in the field. If the trainee
locks up, fine. If not, fire that bird out of there immediately and go
knock the dummy down to the ground. The idea is that the dog comes to
associate a pointing dog with birds and will point his pointing
bracemate as such. If the pointing dog "disappears" at the
flush, I have been told that your dog may come to believe that a
pointing dog actually can turn into a flushng bird and that makes them
even more caution around another dog's find.
I then graduate through shooting
these birds as a reward for proper performance and then to using other
dogs in place of the dummy. A launcher or a partner is a huge help in
this as you have great control over when to pop that bird out without
the dog even gettng close to thinking he can road in on the other dog
and steal point or bump the bird. The whole thing will make quite an
impression on your dog if you do it right. I find that most of them will
then point their bracemate with almost as much style as they point with,
if you go slow, train "whoa" first, and be liberal with your
use of birds in the repition of this excersise.
You can easily have a dog that
folks will admire and consider a joy to hunt with. A dog that honors
well is always welcome, and is a trait that no amount of other talent,
or other ability can make up for when hunting with another dog,
especially if that other dog belongs to your buddy. I work very hard on
this. I live in town, I need buddies with bird land. My neighbors think
I am nuts, my dogs will point refrigerators in ditches and old cars and
even cows in the field. But, they won't steal any points or cost the
hunt any birds and you will likely be asked back.