|The puppy development stage and bird introduction stage go hand in hand. Dogs must start to learn how to find
game by seeking likely objectives. It doesn't matter what the situation, a dog will learn to repeat success.
For instance if a dog finds a bird in a patch of grass six inches taller than the rest of the field, it will learn to check
other areas of grass six inches taller than the rest, and if still getting success the higher grass everywhere will
become an objective for the dog.
I personally don't know if six inches of grass difference will hold birds such as pheasants or not. To be honest
with you, I don't know what pheasants use as objectives. I can promise you that there is one, and an experienced
dog will learn them if given enough of a chance.
I do know quail like tree lines and will usually be no more than thirty feet away from their roost while feeding. I
also know sharp tail like bowl like areas on top of a hill in sparse grass.
When planting birds for young dogs it doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference what objectives you create.
What is important is that when entering a field, birds are on the dogs mind. If he/she is thinking birds, he/she will
likely remember where the last bird was found and seek other areas like it, which will turn into an objective. This
will help speed up the process in creating a bird dog in the wild.
In young and inexperienced ages allowing the dog to chase birds is the best way to create bird drive. The more
they chase the better. Chase is not running down a flying bird and catching it. Chase is not chasing a bird running
on the ground and again catching it. And chase is not how fast they run after a bird that was shot. Chase is getting
a bird to fly and taking off after it trying to catch it but not being able to. This accomplishes three things. One, the
dog will get too close to the bird, in return making the bird fly. Two, the dog will learn no matter how far he/she
chases it, they will never catch it. And three, it will put more enthusiasm and bird drive, if you will, into the dog than
shooting a hundred birds.
Don't get me wrong. Shooting a few birds for a young dog is a good idea as well, for they should get a taste of
that blood in their mouth at a very young age. They should want to catch it and they should want to eat it if and
when they get a hold of it.
However, by chasing the bird and not getting a hold of it the dog will learn to stalk the bird on its own. This is a
slow process but the most effective when trying to create a broke dog. Remember the first step in breaking a dog
to command is getting a dog broke to wing. The bird can break the dog with no stimulation required because the
dog will learn that he/she cannot catch it without you killing it for them. If the dog can learn to let you get in front of
them to put up the bird and shoot it, the dog is ready to get started on being broke to command. However, try not
to be confused with a dog that is pointing because he/she understands they can’t catch it and a dog that is
pointing out of fear. A dog should only be waiting for you to put up the bird because he/she knows they can’t catch
it. If a dog hasn't learned enough chase, it will regress in the later stages.
Think of it like a piggy bank. Every time the dog chases a bird stick a penny in it. If the jar is full to the top, when
we withdraw from it and do some formal training the dog does not go bankrupt.
The best way to get this done without question is on wild birds. In areas not having the number of wild birds that
will keep the dog satisfied it is hard to do this. I like to use homing pigeons and bird launchers. These are birds
that will fly back home to a roost. This is usually a pigeon coup with a one way door in which the birds will be able
to enter but not be able to leave. I will use a remote detonated bird launcher to release the bird when the dog has
made his/her break towards the bird thinking about grabbing it. When the bird is released the dog will begin its
chase. When the dog is done with his/her chase they will usually make their way back to where the bird had flown
from and try to learn the area in which the bird was hiding. Strategically placed birds on our part is a good way for
dogs to learn how to pattern birds. I like to put these launchers in areas of the grass that do differ from the rest of
the area. Whether it be a clump in the middle of a field, or a branch from a tree, or an actual tree, it doesn't matter.
It is helping the dog learn to look ahead and think of places to go. Once again this is not to teach dogs where wild
birds are in the field. It is to help dogs learn to remember where the areas are in which birds were found before. It
is our job to get them around enough wild birds in the field to do so.