Hunting/training with preserve birdsI have a 6 year old Brittany that points grouse and woodcock very well, she is solid on these birds. Unfortunately much of my hunting is done on preserves and my dog creeps on these birds, In the past she has caught some of these weak birds herself. During our walks and yard practices she responds to whoa immediately but seems to go deaf when she is around birds. She is also very reluctant to back. Could you please give me some advice. Thankyou. Hello and thanks for the question.
Your dilemma is common. Unfortunately, most preserve birds are desensitized to humans and thus allow the dog to 'crowd' the bird. The dog soon figures out that the birds let them get ever so close that finally the dogs' instinct to pounce and catch the prey takes over. Keep in mind that the point is only half of the dogs instinct. He points, creeps and catches. Man has refined that natural instinct so that he lets us do the 'catching'.
Native birds wouldn't ordinarily be caught as the birds are sensitive to predators of all kinds and escape most of the time.
We usually fix this problem dog by reteaching whoa and using remote control launchers with strong flying chukar and/or pigeons. We let the dog hunt and once he indicates the presence of game and creeps just one step (prior to or after the initial point), we press the remote control button and off flies the bird. Soon the dog figures out that he can't creep because the bird flies harmlessly away. Of course there's more to it but that's a general description of what we do.
If you continue to hunt preserve birds this will be a never ending training cycle. You'll fix the problem then he will relearn that he can creep and catch.
Get professional to help you break that habit if you're inexperienced. Also, you'll need to show restraint when hunting. If he creeps just one step and flushes, Don't Shoot! If you do shoot, you have just reinforced the creeping problem.
Another item to consider is to try other preserves. There are preserves out there that are demanding and insist on high quality flight conditioned birds. Oh, and don't go hunting at a preserve if it is a wet day...even strong birds are easy to catch when they are wet. One more tip, don't hunt once the preserve birds start molting in early spring.
Hope that helps you. Good luck and best wishes this hunting season.
Dave Jones, HMC, USN, Ret.
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