Bird Dog & Retriever News

February / March 2008 issue Page 14

 February/March 2008 Now in our thirteenth year. www.Bdarn.com


dog's training. There is no absolute correct range. Correct range for a pointing dog is highly variable, depending on a number of factors. Pointing dogs should range beyond the gun. They should cover more ground than you would cover alone or with a flushing dog. Range is dictated by the cover, the amount of birds, the age and condition of the hunter, and any number of other factors. A good dog will adjust its range to the conditions. In summary, the correct range is far enough to encounter birds and point them before they are alarmed and on the move from hunter noise, yet close enough that the shooter can get to them on point to kill the bird. After all, these are gun dogs.
A properly trained pointing dog will hold point until you arrive on the scene to flush it. Bumping a bird at ten yards is the same fault as bumping one at seventy-five yards and should be dealt with in the same manner. If range and handling become a major problem, deal with this in separate training sessions after  

 the season. If they interfere with your hunting too much, stop hunting the pup and go back to repetitive drill on handling.
Genetics and training play a role in determining your pup's range. In the field, the thickness of the cover and the number of birds also affect range. Thicker cover and more birds will cause the pup to hunt closer; sparse cover and a lack of birds will encourage the pup to reach out. Everyone is comfortable with different distances in a pointing dog. At this point, if you cannot get your pup to hunt at a comfortable range for you, you need to decide whether advanced training will solve the problem or you have to replace your pup. Consult a pro, and if you have not tried an e-collar, it may help.
With luck, if you have chosen from gun-dog stock, the problem may only be one of puppy enthusiasm that can be corrected with training and maturity. I am often confronted by owners who are new to handling pointing dogs and do not understand how a pointing dog should range. Also, control is control, whether the pup is thirty yards out or one hundred. Range and handling problems are probably the most frequent ones I encounter as a trainer. Most often they are not the problem that the owner thinks. On the occasion that they are a real problem, breeding is often the culprit.
In summary, field handling involves two commands properly taught: "come" and quartering. Anything else is unnecessary and extra baggage that will confuse your pup.

Training Your Pointing Dog By Richard Weaver. Reprinted with permission: Copyrights Stackpole Books 2008

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News November 2008
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