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Training Day Tips

 

What to bring:

-A sturdy flat buckle collar for your dog. Choke chains are OK for general control if needed, but you’ll need a plain collar for bird work. Limited slip or martingale collars, or flimsy, fancy collars aren’t recommended.

- A regular sturdy leash. It doesn’t have to be orange, or camouflage – the important thing is that it works! Retractable leashes are not very useful, and very skinny leashes could hurt your hands if your dog pulls on you.

- A training line is useful, but not necessarily required right away – you can often borrow from someone else. A training line is basically a long leash that is used in various exercises. Ideally a somewhat stiff cotton rope about a half inch in diameter and 30 feet long, with a strong clip one end and a knot on the other, is nice. You can buy ready made ones from hunting supply stores, or make your own. Beware of nylon or very thin rope as they can burn your hands, and very supple rope can get tangled in brush.

- Water for your dog and yourself. Sunscreen, bug spray, a hat – basically pretend you’re going for a picnic!

- This may seem obvious, but dress for the weather. Training days are usually in the host’s “back forty”, so if it drizzles, or is cold or hot, you need to be prepared. We usually continue to train as long as it isn’t too terrible out – we’ve had some nasty weather on test days, so it doesn’t hurt to train in off weather too!


- Wear blue jeans, Carhartt pants or rugged upland hunting pants if you can – we often find ourselves walking through rose bushes and other prickly things, so shorts can be painful! There is also a good chance of getting a little dirty!

- Hiking boots are handy – there can be lots of walking, so sturdy footwear is nice to have.

- Don’t worry about buying Dokken training dummies, or bird scent – we prefer to train on real birds. Pigeons are most commonly used, and we will use game birds when we can get them. Likewise, don’t rush out and buy bird launchers! These are commonly shared among members at training days.

What happens at these things anyways!?

Well, lots of thing, really. There are usually lots of people with dogs at all levels preparing for various elements of the different tests. It might be helpful to read over some of the testing elements before you start training - even if you don’t plan on testing, having an idea of your goals helps understand the training process.

-We’ll usually group up based on the age/ability of the dogs – puppies do different exercises than the experienced dogs.

- Training days aren’t set up like obedience classes – it’s far less formal than that. Experienced people will help new people, and people doing the same exercises will work together.

- For pups, exercises aren’t repeated a whole lot of times – 3 repetitions of any one thing is usually plenty.

- Pup’s first training day will be about exposure to birds, with wing on a stick play, and maybe tethered live pigeons or pigeons in traps. The idea is to get the little ones excited about birds.

- Pointing doesn’t always happen right away – the progression depends on each individual dog. Likewise, manners on birds are a gradual progression.

 

- Water work for puppies is essentially just playing in the water and learning to swim.

There will be gun fire in the distance, but not over pup right away. Introduction to guns should be slow and careful so that the pup doesn’t associate gun fire with anything bad. This would be a good topic to read up on before your first training day!