I do not have a boat and now that the areas I hunt are iced over my duck season is comming to a close. I have a 1 year old Chocolate Lab I have worked with since December. She did great for her first duck season!! She is a solid retriever. As I was saying now that duck season is over for me I am looking to start her up on upland game. I'd like to help her become a good little grouse, ptarmigan dog also.This is the first dog I have ever trained, I pretty much just followed the book Water Dog to train her for ducks and geese so as you can imagine I have no idea where to start for upland game. Anyone got any good training tips to get started.
Most upland hunters want their retrievers to be used as flushing dogs. So teaching them to use there nose is of utmost importance. You can start by using canvas bumpers scented with grouse or pheasant. You can purchase the bottles of scent. Or if you have them available. Use some pheasant or grouse wings. Get her interested and then start hiding them in some light cover and then as she gets proficient then to heavier cover.
You can plant several in a field. Then teach your dog to quarter. You walk in a zig zag pattern use your whistle or voice to get your dogs attention to turn as you turn. Some dogs you may have to use a long line to help to get them to turn with you.
It always helps to make sure your dog is well versed on obedience before any field training begins. Coming when called and knowing how to heel. Using here and heel should be made perfect. Obedience makes your field training a lot easier. It guarantees the dog will work for you instead of for itself. A self employed dog is very frustrating.
Start now on making her steady to flushing birds and to shot.
Try to find someone with some training birds. Pigeons, pheasant or chukar. Using live birds in a controlled training environment is always helpful. There are several gundog training clubs that have availability or some of there members.
Spruce hen are pretty easy to use for training. Typically, you can walk right up on them to where the dog can see them. Have your dog sit while another gunner flushes the bird and shoots. Then send your dog to pick it up. Use a leash so your dog will start to learn to be steady to flush and shot.
Just some tips I can think of right now. I'm getting pretty tired so I can't type or think straight. I'll get back later and I'll see or add to what others say.
Let me know if I can further help you.
When you are hiding the scented canvas bumpers or the wings. Use a command such as "Hunt em up" or something along that line to release her to start searching.
Practice having her use her nose and find items in direct wind, crosswind and down wind situations.
The best way to simulate upland hunting in training is to use a remote box launcher. You can put training dummies or live birds in them. You can use these by yourself. But it is easier on you the "handler" when you have more than one person. It lets you concentrate on working your dog.
You know where the launcher is you simply just control your dog up to the spot where you will release the launched item to be retrieved. As the "flush" goes off you command sit or use a whistle sit. Starting off you will need a long line. Over time and consistency this sitting to flush will become routine for your dog and you won't have to command it.
Another important tip is to teach your dog a range. If they range out beyond gunning distance it doesn't do you any good. So for me using your voice command or whistle for "here" is very handy.
Hopefully I have given you enough to think about and to get you started. If I need to explain something in more detail just let me know.