Certain breeds of dogs are born to be hunters, and learning how to train a bird dog will help you double your fun and yields during the hunting season for waterfowls and ducks. Remember that not all types of dogs can hunt, so don't have unrealistic expectations on your dog if it is not a hunting breed.
- Recognizing the breeds. Before you can start to train a bird dog, you will need to know what bird dog means: a bird dog is a type of hunting dog used to retrieve birds or other small animals. Breeds include Pointer, Red Setter, English Setter, German Short-hair Pointer and Irish Setter. Most pointing dog breeds can also be trained as a bird dog as they are very energetic, loyal and intelligent.
- Picking and training the puppy. After you have picked out the breed you want, you will need to contact local breeders for a puppy with excellent genetic record because learning how to train a bird dog will be even more difficult if your dog has genetic problems or inappropriate temperaments. Start the training early to acclimate your dog with hunting. If you want your dog to hunt ducks and waterfowls for you, you will need to introduce the puppy to water very soon and have it associate water with something pleasant.
- Teaching basic commands. One of the most important steps to train a bird dog is to teach the dog basic commands, such as "sit," "stay," and "drop." Use treats to aid your teaching, so your dog will learn the command quickly and have a pleasant experience with the training.
- Helping your bird dog distinguish decoys and real birds. This is crucial if you want to train a bird dog successfully. Use the scent of waterfowl to teach your dog the difference between a real bird and a dummy. You do not want your bird dog to go after a decoy while the real duck flies away under its nose. Reward the dog when it can identify the real birds. Make the training process fun for your bird dog. Use training dummies when the dog is still young.
- Training your dog to retrieve. Your main goal to train a bird dog is to have it retrieve birds for you. During training, reward your dog whenever it brings you the training dummy. Make the training consistent and simple.
- Familiarizing your dog with hunting. Before you actually train a bird dog to perform hunting for you, you need to expose the dog to the hunting scene first. Have your dog with you when you practice target shooting or set up simulated hunts. This way the bird dog will have an idea what real hunting is like.
Use a lot of compliments and treats when you first begin training. Remember that the dog's instinct is to run after and hunt down small animals; all you need to do is to reward that instinct.