I cannot speak for the retrieving breeds. I can guarantee you that the big time dog trainers here in Georgia and the deep South do not do that with Pointer pups. In my 35 years of fooling with field trials I have never seen even the know-it-all amateurs try something like that.
NRA Life Member since 1974
Actually Yes........but NOT used with good trainers. In my opinion creates more problems than good. Occurs mainly with (ill experienced) Gundog trainers.
Below is a clip from an article I previously had...
As far as training......I like to start formal obedience and field training at 4 months. That may vary depending on breed and an individual dogs maturity level. For me obedience is done first. Why ? Cause I wouldnt introduce a bird to a dog that won't come to me when called or wont return with a retrieved item or shows prey possessiveness with just bumpers. These are things I want fixed before live birds or even dead ones at that. I used to watch other trainers or private individuals out throwing live pigeons for there pup that had absolutely no obedience work. Chasing the dog down wrestling the bird from the dog. They said they were making there dog birdy. From my perspective hunting dogs are bred with prey drive. Proper breeding insures of this. So you can't increase prey drive. They either have it or they don't. You are simply pulling out prey drive in an uncontrolled manner. A bad habit to start. Out of control prey drive leads to prey possessiveness and hard mouth. So please do formal obedience first. I used to know several pros that did the 2 week make your dog crazy on birds program. I really never agreed with it. It looked wonderful to the owner that his/her dog was fired up. But at the end it was simply out of control. A guaranteed next months check for the trainer to then start obedience on a dog now out of control. So as you can see this does the dog no good.
Don't train what you have to untrain later. Human nature is such that we tend to train, promote, or allow behaviors that may be entertaining or easy to ignore. Ask yourself if these behaviors are desirable on a hunt. Allowing these behaviors will only make your training harder for you and pup. Requiring a lot more pressure to break bad habits later down the road. Remember, a dog is a creature of habit.
Well said Wetlands.
I've seen people testing litters of labs with a wing clipped pigeon. They thought they could get an idea of how the individual pups compared with each other for boldness and birdiness.
I've also seen people who would put the wing clip with a pup alone and not with the litter to see how the pup would do without the littermates there to give a pup alone courage. I know one guy who when picking a pup from a litter would take the pups one at a time into a place where he could put the pup on a wing clipped pigeon. He wanted the pup that showed some wariness and maybe a little fear of it, but after awhile it was chasing, catching and carrying it. He thought the pup was showing both smarts for being wary and birdiness 'cause it got over it's fear. I don't want to say putting 6 week old pups with wing clip pigeons is all hogwash but I look at it with a pretty jaundiced eye. Once or twice probably doesn't hurt anything if you think it will help you choose which pup you want, but beyond that I don't see any value in it.
I'm with Baron, you do not want to make the dog out of control. Most of the lab pups I've trained, I could work them with cold dead birds after they were 4 months or so. I like them on dead birds once a week, I think if they are on birds to often it leads to control issues and not any leads to retrievers who don't know how to handle birds.I used to know several pros that did the 2 week make your dog crazy on birds program. I really never agreed with it. It looked wonderful to the owner that his/her dog was fired up. But at the end it was simply out of control.
I'll usually get my pups on wing clips after they've been on cold dead birds for a month or so. Not very often but I want to see if there's a potential problem coming up. I like to get them used to live pigeons before I put them on live ducks. I don't usually shoot flyers for a youngster until it is well into or done with transition. Again, that's for control issues. I don't want an out of control, bird crazy dog, but I want a dog who is not bothered by a live/crippled bird. Most of the retrievers I see up here in hunting tests do not have birdiness issues, but many have control issues.
I've had two good dogs and one OK dog who were afraid of live quacking ducks at about 14 months old. I had to do some remedial work with them, but they all wound up getting excited with cripples instead of being afraid of them.
I agree 100% with Baron/Wetland Retreivers...
I bred my females a total of 5 times since 1980 with my last breeding being over 12 years ago. I kept track of many of the pups and families over the years. As I recall, I introduced 3 of those litters to clip winged pigeons, 2 litters I did not do so. Of those 3 litters, all of the pups that I was able to track were birdy, but not out of control heathens. Of the 2 litters I did not introduce birds to, all of the pups that I could keep tabs on were birdy also. I have no conclusive evidence that introduction to birds while in a litter/pack was in any way detrimental to the advancement of the pup. On the other hand, I have nothing that says it helped.
All of the litters were introduced to a .22 blank revolver and the whistle, and except for 2 winter breedings, all of the pups were also introduced to the world away from the kennel which included wading water, mud, woods, etc. This was all done initially in the pack setting.
The whistle was introduced at feeding time after the pups were weaned. After the pups associated the whistle to feeding time, and play time, the gun was introduced in conjunction with the whistle. I always started a long way off, or in such a manner that the noise was muted, but still could be heard by the pups. I would progress closer but I never shot directly over the pups.
By the time pups were 49 days old and ready for new homes, they would follow me around open areas easily. If they wandered off, I could get them back by using the whistle.
In all of my years of owning and breeding Labradors, I've never known one of my pups to be gunshy or afraid of new surroundings. Nor have I heard of one of my pups being either to hard on birds, or afraid of cripples.
I have purchased 3 female pups starting back in 1978. None of them had any similar exposures as I have described. The first (local breeding), while a great animal (qualified all age and awesome hunter), was not necessarily enthused about water. She'd go, but given a chance, she'd cheat. I remember her coming out of the brush at a field trial after finding the retired gunner and getting scared. The second (FC-AFC sire) was also wonderful, but she was a bit apprehensive about things like stairs. The third (NFC sire), being by far the most athletic of all of them, seems at times timid about surroundings.
On the other hand, of all the pups I kept from my breedings, male and female, only one ever showed any apprehension about anything, and that was slick marble floors. He was an incredible working dog that was campaigned young in field trials, and hunted on or around ice with aplomb. But marble, not linoleum or concrete or anything else, bothered him. The only reason any of them ever cheated was to get to the bird faster.
I did not do any of the above to "test" the pups. I'm just not sure testing really does much, or answers the big question, "which one will the best adult" or "the perfect dog for me". What I did notice was that the pups in each litter that were not as quick to respond, or self assured initially, seemed to catch up with the rest of the litter over time, whether it was chasing a clipped wing pigeon, or responding to the whistle. My interactions with the litter in some ways seemed to level the playing field.
Would I do it all again? As I saw no result that appeared at the time, or later, to be conclusively detrimental, I might. Breeding is not a full time endeavor for me, therefore, on the rare occasion that I do breed, I have time to play with and enjoy each litter, unlike full time breeders. I'm not sure there is anything more satisfying than sitting in a whelping pen and getting attacked by a bunch of pups or walking through the trees or yard like the pied piper with pups in tow.
Both Howard and Baron are experienced and their answers add some insight to the question. Thanks guys for your responses.
I've seen this practice many years ago to show prospective puppy buyers. I raised a small flock of pigeons for training and quickly dispatched my share of wounded pigeons, duckes and chuckars at tests and training. To keep this sport alive we have to be responsible in the way we handle our dogs and birds. Even if wounding or bad treatment of the birds doesn't bother you it, bothers other people. Other people who can ruin all your fun. We can still train, hunt and be humane to the birds and sensitive to the feelings of others. Over the last 20 years there have been times where clubs wanted to keep their training and trial a secret in fear of animal rights groups. It's a real fear but the result has been a steady decline of members.
That video is a very bad example of a very selfish and bad representative of the sport.