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From bumpers to birds

I have a 5 1/2 month old Male Lab pup, that comes from generations of field dogs. He is progressing very fast , and at sometimes appears to be training his self. Although there is one problem, and I think I am to blame. My pup understands the meaning of mark, but he also knows that the word mark is usually followed by a bumber thrown by me, or someone else. I recently took him to one of my hunting fields that was holding alot of doves. The doves were flying by us continuously, but when told to mark my pup only stares into the field waiting for a bumber to fall .I know I need to get him on live birds, but I do not have access to them on a regular basis. I plan to trial the dog some, but hunt on a regular basis. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Jason Sanders

It sounds like your pup is doing just fine, if he is going to be a hunting dog, take him to the field on opening day, sit him by your side and shoot some doves. It will take him a few birds to figure it out but he will. I would not tell him to mark unless you are going to shoot or throw. Telling him to mark a bird that is not going to fall will teach him that the word is meaningless.
Best of luck,

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retrievers
Highland Retriever

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