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Spring is a great time to buy a new puppy.  It’s also a good time to start training a pup to be your bird dog.  Training a hunting dog requires a lot of patience.  

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Do you know which breed is the best bird dog for what you hunt?  Below are some pointers on bird dogs.

  1. Looking for a new puppy? What type of hunting do you want to do? Upland game, ducks or a combination?  For quail and pheasant, there is the pointing breed (for example, German Shorthair, Brittany, Gordon Setter, Weimaraner, Lab, Vizsla, English Setter, and Irish Red and White Setter) and the flushing breed (for example, Boykin Spaniel, Springer Spaniel).
  2. When buying a pup, look at the parents. Find the best sire and dam. Talk to people who have hunted over the parents. If possible, see if the parents have been medically examined for any hip problems. Bad hips can prevent a bird dog from performing well.
  3. Is your new pup going to be an inside or outdoor dog? Both can make a good hunting companion.
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  5. There are a lot of places where they sell puppies. They are usually ready for their new home at 8 weeks. Just like a new baby, they need a lot of love and attention. The more time you work with them, the more they understand what you want.
  6. When you begin working with your dog, keep the sessions short. If you can, train more than once a day.  End each training session on a positive note.
  7. If you decide to have your puppy inside, make sure to provide a traveling crate for their comfort.
  8. Use a leather collar and lead. And, be sure to have a good whistle. The training will be easier when you use these tools.
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  10. It is important that your puppy doesn’t associate a bad experience with you — you have become their momma.
  11. As the pup grows older, you will need a 20-foot check rope that has a swivel snap to attach to its collar. When you aren’t using it, wrap it up and hang it on your belt.
  12. If you keep your puppy outside, be sure to provide a fenced dog run, 4-by-8 or -10 feet. It can be on concrete or pea gravel.
  13. An outside dog needs a good dog house. Wooden ones with a sloped roof and an offset entrance work well. A hinged top of the house makes it easier to clean. The size of the house is important. If it is too large, the dog can’t maintain adequate heat in the winter.
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  15. Fresh water daily is necessary. Dehydration can be a serious issue.
  16. Backyard training of basic commands are heel, here, whoa, sit, stay and no.
  17. As the puppy gets older, you can start teaching quartering. (Quartering means teaching the puppy on the check cord to hunt back and forth out front of the hunter.)
  18. Don’t use an electric collar to teach a command. After they know the commands well, you can use the collar as reinforcement.
  19. There are many good books, articles and videos to help you train your new puppy. If you don’t have the space or time to work your puppy on birds, there are trainers that do a great job. Two months of professional training is worth the money.


  21. If you prefer a dog that is fully trained, there are several options (Field Trainers, Hunting preserves also offer trained dogs, or your vet may have insight on where to buy a trained dog). Also, after the season, some hunters don’t want to keep a dog through winter, so they sell it.

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Training a hunting dog requires a lot of patience. Don’t strike your dog or get frustrated. Just keep working at it and eventually your dog will get it.

Good luck training and happy hunting.