This month we will expand on "hunting dead", teaching your dog to track wounded or dead birds. It is important that your dog posses this skill. Our goal is to recover as close to 100% of all birds harvested as possible.
Bird dogs are blessed with excellent olfactory senses, so it is just a matter of teaching them the proper technique to track a running bird. Once your dog masters the techniques presented last month (June 2015), the ability to track will come very quickly.
I like to start with the wing wrapped training dummy in a yard training situation. Place your dog in an area where it cannot see what you are doing. Attach the dummy to a pole in a manner in which it can easily be released. Then drag the wing wrapped dummy to a simple hiding place. Behind a tree is a good starting point. Make sure your drag line is a reasonable distance from you . . say 3 to 4 feet. You do not want to mask the bird's scent with yours. Release your dog to the area where you started dragging the dummy. Use the command “dead” or “hunt dead”. Your dog will pick up the scent and soon will find the hidden bird. Keep increasing the difficulty of the hiding place by increasing the distance and the height of the cover. Remember to praise your dog lavishly when it brings the dummy back to you. This will encourage your dog to search diligently for “the bird” as it knows it will be rewarded for doing so.
The next step is to move to a field training situation. You will want to add some bird scent to the winged dummy to make the situation as real as possible. Again, start with close, simple hiding spots. Move to longer, more difficult situations, weaving in an S-type pattern. Your next step will be to go to a frozen bird and finally on to a clipped wing live bird.
Repeated exercise of this drill will ensure you have a dog that will enthusiastically search for and recover your downed birds.
Stop by again next month for another training tip.
CJ & Shawnee