Bird Dog Training Question
I am interested in getting into upland bird hunting, and I would like to start training my dog(s). However, the question I am pondering is whether to train all 3 dogs or just one, and if just one which one?
A little insight into the matter, I have 3 dogs that I rescued from the Pound: a Great Dane (4yrs old), Lab/pit mix (3 yrs old), and a pit-bull (1 yr old). I understand that my decision is not entirely based on breed and ultimately will be my dog’s response to training and its natural instincts to hunt. Each dog has strengths and weaknesses in terms of maturity, obedience, and hunting instincts. The information I have read via web articles indicates each of my dogs breeds have been used to hunt one thing or another, but I wanted to hear your comments/thoughts on this. My gut feel is I should focus on training my lab/pit mix, but she might be too hyper and may not listen as well in the field. Also she is a bit skittish, but she is truely an outdoors dog. The Great Dane on the other hand is calm and seems to show a higher intellect then the other two. Also he is very obedient on and off the leash. The pit-bull seems to have to most hunting instincts of all three as he is always sniffing around and observant of his surroundings at all times. However he does not always listen very good and is not terribly fond of the water. As far as training goes I will be working with professional handlers/trainers. Thanks in advance for your advice.
I dont mean to disapoint mike but none them sound like fantastic breeds to start with. If any of your dogs loves birds then they could work as flushers. If the dog quarters in shotgun range, and sniffs things out, then hey, you have a flusher! Who cares if it isnt a bird dog breed. IF the half lab comes from strong hunting lines then it is your best bet. The Dogs must love birds or your training is futile. The more motivation to find the better your chances are at a legitmant bird dog.
I've became more of a bird dog addict, so how a dog performs means more than how mang birds are in the bag.
Bird Dog Breeds
No dissapointment. Don't have the first clue about any of their bloodlines as they are all rescues. I suppose I am hoping my dogs ability to perform in the field will be primarily a function of training and obiedience, and that bloodline is a secondary less important factor. Not to discount the importance of bloodline, but I think all dogs have some natural instint to hunt with some stronger then others.
Thanks for your insight!
While you are correct that all dogs have some natural hunter in them, there is a big differnce in who they are hunting for. The underlying wolf is hunting for himself while the bird dog lines have been developed for a cooperative hunt. I would be concerned about the pit bull crosses as their jaws are designed to "take a firm hold" and they may crush anything that you shoot, but it may be an interesting experiement to see what can be developed.
What field experiences has any of these dogs had?
How does each respond to hikes and walks in the woods?
How much obedience work have you done? There needs to be a good foundation here in order to formerly start gundog training. With out it you have a dog working for itself and not you.
The one that has prey drive is the one to focus your efforts on. Using its nose to sniff out the scent trails that wild game have left behind.
A sure fire way to find out. Plant some live pigeons in a field in a known location or in a remote launcher. Bring your dog up and let them hunt for them.
You are your dogs teacher. Just like other pack members in a wolf pack show there pups how to hunt. You teach your dog how to use its nose and what it is looking for ie rabbit, squirrels or birds.
Once the prey drive has been enhanced then the dog is simply taught to quarter and to turn with you as you hunt.
I have trained many retriever mixes. Some that didn't even resemble a retriever. That doesn't matter. What I look for is prey drive and the retrieving instinct. From there it is obedience work and field training.
As far as the "pit" side. You can teach them how to use there mouth. Don't let them teach themselves. We create our own problems with dogs. Pits get a bad rap because humans bring out the worst in them. They are only doing what some human has trained them to do or has allowed them to do. All dogs need is a leader to show them the difference between desireable behavior and undesirable.
As a kind...
As a kin I had really good luck with a lab/(I think pit) mix. It was a mutt I found on the side of the road half starved to death. He wouldn't point, but was a good flusher and a heck of a duck dog. I had some great times with him. But I also started him really young and had tones of time to spend working on him. And its true: obedience it a really good starting place, that and the desire to please you.