What's Your Bird Dog's Best School Subject?

by
posted on September 12, 2014
dogs_ah2015_fs.jpg (60)

undefinedPheasants Forever ran a humorous photo for its regular "Dog of the Day" profile and asked the following question: "With students heading back to the classroom this week, we’re wondering what’s your bird dog’s best subject?"

Given the odd fashion in which my brain works, I began pondering ways that dog training parallels grade-school subjects. Here are a few I came up with:

Math
The most highly skilled retrievers are all adept at math. No, they can't do calculus, but they can count. Whether there are two, three or four ducks falling from the sky, they count, mark, and remember each one. After the initial retrieve it's just a matter of giving them a "back" to the subsequent falls. Dogs that don't learn to do this math require a lot more handling and time to reach the additional ducks. And it seems a dog out of the blind is as likely to attract an additional flock of ducks as a hunter collecting his decoys.

Science
How do dogs smell a running pheasant's track and know what direction it ran? It's something we take for granted, but good dogs seem to have an instinctive understanding of the science of scent. They use the wind; they take body or foot scent; they find birds. Some bird dogs track running birds with great skill from the initial contact, while others require more experience in the outdoor classroom.

Physical Education
The best dogs are highly conditioned athletes. They have a fit, almost muscular look to them that their domestic counterparts lack—and this has numerous benefits afield. A dog that's in shape hunts harder, longer and is able to use its nose more efficiently than one sucking wind. They're also less prone to dehydration, because excessive panting—a key weakness of overweight, out-of-shape dogs—leads to rapid shedding of water reserves.

Civics
Bird dogs, especially, must learn to be well-behaved, polite members of society. They must be taught to get along well with other hunting dogs accompanying them or that they may encounter. Obedience training is required to ensure they're patient, quiet, respectful companions in the duck blind. And they need to be crate-trained for trips to the field. These lessons require careful instruction, often beginning in the "classroom" at home.

Reading
No, your dog doesn't need to write any book reports, but the best hunter/dog teams are able to read each other's subtle body language. The best dog I ever owned would take one look at my face and seemingly know what I was thinking. We just had that kind of bond, the result of spending countless hours together. This can pay great dividends, for instance, in the midst of a new training lesson; when directing the dog to a blind retrieve; or something as simple as altering your path during an upland hunt.

So, what's your dog's best subject? What "classroom" lessons do you strive to teach?

Latest

2022 GBA AOTY Winchester 6.8 Western Lead
2022 GBA AOTY Winchester 6.8 Western Lead

2022 Ammo of the Year: Winchester 6.8 Western

Any way you cut it, this cartridge is a long-range winner. It maintains its energy at distance, and it’s plenty accurate, too.

Pioneering Wild Turkey Research Underway

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is helping fund a new wild-turkey research project conducted by Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

2022 Optic of the Year: ATN ThOR 4 Thermal Riflescope

ATN Corp. sits at the cutting edge of consumer-based thermal technology, and its ThOR 4 Series 640x480 2.5-25x50mm is the best such riflescope it offers.

Federal Ammunition Raises $218,000 for Local Organizations

In celebration of Federal’s 100th Anniversary, Federal will be donating more than $218,000 dollars to local organizations in support of their critical missions.

Federal Duck Stamps for 2022-23 Season on Sale

The 2022-23 Federal Duck Stamp goes on sale Friday, June 24. The stamps, which cost $25 and raise about $40 million for conservation each year, are valid from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

2022 Muzzleloader of the Year: CVA Paramount HTR .40-Caliber

With its hunting-style stock, adjustable comb and premium Bergara barrel, the .40-caliber CVA Paramount HTR is capable of producing centerfire velocities previously thought unattainable from a muzzleloader.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.