Dog training is and has been a main focal point of my life for over twenty years. I raise German Shorthaired Pointers but since the beginning I have trained all pointing breeds and continue to do so to this day.
I began training working stock dogs primarily for working cattle in the seventies and eighties but once I “grew up” and got my own GSP’s I spent as much time as I possibly could working with long established “pro’s” in the birddog training arena in our local area. Much has transpired since then and hundreds and hundreds of fine young dogs have passed through my hands since I got serious about gun dog training in the late eighties.
While the main focus of my training is still making great family gun dogs out of young pups for my dog clients it has progressed well beyond that now. Today in addition to our family hunting dog program we are also training and handling dogs for field trialing and hunt testing and doing so with great success.
Having now attended and competed in under AKC field trials we have earned 28 wins and over 90 placements with, Gun Dogs, All Age Dogs, Derby, and Puppies. Obviously this program is working quite well as those placements have been earned in 8 different states under a great many different judges.
As time goes on and I continue to grow as a trainer I plan and hope to dedicate a greater percentage of my time each year to that which I love most, which is developing young dogs to their full potential.
Philosophy and Method
My basic philosophy is this. Take pups at four to nine months old (or earlier as above), and expose them to as much of the world and outdoors as possible, at every opportunity, including as many wild game birds as possible, and give them a basic introduction to pointing and the gun.
Once the puppies begin to point on their own I’ll start working them on planted birds, staunching them up and getting them to hold their points longer and longer, while still running them at every opportunity on wild birds. Where I live and the places we go on the fall trip give me the ability to do both, even on the same day, even in the same hour quite frequently. I feel nothing helps the youngsters develop the natural pointing and hunting instincts better than this combination of both free running and “check cord work on planted birds”.
When I have enough dogs to take, in September I head north to the prairie camp where I’ll stay working the dogs on Sharptail, Hungarian partridge, and Pheasant until old man winter chases us home in Late November or December. Like here at home I have both the wild birds and thousands of acres to work dogs on, as well as having Johnny house birds and all the necessary equipment to work them on there as well.
For basic “birddog training” by the time we get back in December, just as the Texas quail season is getting good, the dogs are ready to go home and be both pets and birddogs through the end of February when our season closes.
Depending on the dog, and your desired level of training, this may be all you ever need for your pup, but most often it’s nice to get them back for a month or so following that first season, to work more on steadiness/staunchness on point as well as pattern and handling work.
Of course for our hunt test and field trial prospects, this is where the serious manners work and breaking steady to wing, shot, and kill begins, or is further worked on. I however believe that trying to rush a dog into this level of training is a mistake, and your results will always be best if you wait until the dog is “ready to be broke”, and of course they all get there at their own pace.
Many of our clients now have learned just how valuable the experience gained by their dogs each fall is, and so send them with me year after year. Fortunately I’m also set up where the owners can occasionally come join us while we are up north for a few days helping me work dogs and hunting.