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Assessing your canine companion's upland bird hunting and waterfowling skills

Posted on November 20, 2013

Tony PetersonIt’s easy to dote upon our hunting dogs and their achievements. In fact, it’s a rare hunter who will openly discuss their dog’s flaws, even if they were blatantly obvious during hunting excursions. I’m not one of those dog owners, and I’ve found over the years that if I take stock in what my dog did poorly while hunting, I can work in the off-season to correct such behavior.

As the fall bird hunting seasons wrap up, consider developing a training strategy to shore-up any faults that your dog exhibited throughout the season. For instance, did your dog start to drop birds early or perhaps have a difficult time locating wounded birds? Both are bad, but both can be fixed and there isn’t a better time to start working on a refresher in proper retrieves or perhaps a few trailing drills.

Think back to the bad times in the field, and you’ll likely remember something that allowed for the onset of negativity.

My current pup has plenty of flaws, but one that was glaring this fall was her inability to follow my hand commands when looking for birds she didn’t see fall. This is no easy task for a seven-month old pup, but it’s something that we need to work on together. And trust me, we will. She is also going to spend some time training around distractions because she is at the age where she should start to be able to focus solely on the task at hand, and not lose it immediately when a songbird flutters by or a leaf blows across the ground.

If your dog showed a few undesirable traits this fall whether chasing grouse, ducks, pheasants or any game birds, consider planning a training strategy now. What you work on throughout the end of the season and the winter months will become second nature in the summer, and of course when it really counts, next season.

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