iHuntFit Upland Hunting
Bloodlines are very important when choosing a hunting dog. Three generations: (Right: Rowdy the stud dog. Middle:  Rambler (my dog from one of Rowdy’s litters) Left: Jule (Ramblers Sister.  Also the newest addition to continue the bloodline).

Whoa, Part 1: Training Upland Bird Dogs

There is nothing quite like watching a dog do what it was made to do.  The pure intensity and dedication to their job is unmatched by humans and I think that is the reason I enjoy bird hunting.  

In this series of articles I will be talking about the basic steps a person needs to take to become an upland bird dog trainer and a successful upland bird hunter.  I will make these steps as simple and easy to follow as possible so that you and your companion will be having great experiences every time you enter the field.

First, lets start with my 5 Rules to Dog Training:

Number 1: This is the most important rule and one that I can not stress enough. DO NOT expect the dog to be a super star if YOU don’t put in the work.  This sadly is the cause of so many abandoned hunting dogs. Just because their breed is ment to hunt doesn’t mean they are a hunter.

Number 2: They are a companion not a tool.  You can not use them and then put them away.  They have to be loved and treated as family if you want a strong bond.

Number 3: Never hurt your dog.  There is a BIG difference between discipline and abuse.  If your dog obeys you out of fear of pain then you are doing the training all wrong.

Number 4: Always be the Alpha.  With the pack mentality ingrained in a dogs DNA (especially hunting breeds) they need an Alpha.  Be the Alpha and you and your dog will both be happy.

Number 5: Let them do what they were bred to do.  Hunting dogs are meant to hunt and without them being able to fulfil their purpose they are never as happy as they could be, and besides why would you spend all the time, money and effort to have a couch potato.

Now that we understand my 5 rules of dog training lets get to the fun stuff, picking out your companion.  This is a crucial step that takes more research than one would think, but don’t worry I’ll make the process simple and easy to follow with just a few steps.

First know what type of hunting you want to do.  Do you want upland bird hunting, waterfowl or maybe both.  This will narrow down the breeds. For example, I’m an avid upland bird hunter so most of my hunting is done in the fall in tall grass and consists of a lot of walking.  For this I prefer to have a short hair dog that is fast and can cover ground. Now my shorthairs preform excelent in these types of terrain, but put them in a duck blind and they are out of their element.  So if I was an avid duck hunter I would go with a dog that is more well rounded in the retrieving and enjoyed water.

Next, you have to decide what type of temperment youre willing to work with and how much patience you have.  What I mean by temperment is how sensitive your dog is to pressure. This is where YOU have to do a self evaluation.  How high strung are you as a person? Do you have a lot of patience? And are you loving or strict? These are all very important when it comes to your breed because if you are too hard with a soft dog the dog will shut down.  If you are to soft with a hard dog the dog will become unresponsive to you.

The final step to take after you find what breed is best suited for you, is to find a breeder.  This is probably the most important step in picking out a dog. Bloodlines of a dog are extremely important for a successful hunting dog.  This also gives you the buyer an idea of how the dog will turn out. For example if the dog is from a long line of AKC Field trial champions you can expect a dog that is high intensity, high power and one that will take a ton of work.  But you can also expect that dog to become an absolute bird hunting machine. I definently do not recommend this type of dog for a first dog. Id look for proven bloodlines in the field and in the house. I prefer to find a guide that has the type of dog im looking for and find out when they’re having a litter.  This is good for two reasons. One: most guide dogs in my experience are great in the field and at home. They aren’t high power, hard chargers but they also aren’t lazy and dissobedient. Theyre a good mix to make a great hunting partner but also a loving family dog. The second reason i like to look for dogs from guides is because you can hunt behind the dog that may produce your pup, and most likely that dog will give you a good idea of what you will get.

I hope this article has helped you decide on your next companion that will join you on many adventures.  Once again I want to express how important this decision is and that if a person wants to become a trainer they have to go all in and love their dog as much as their dog loves them.

Look for part two of this series, coming soon!

This article is written by iHuntFit’s Cole Simonson, an avid upland bird hunter who has over 8 years of training experience.  He has been able to learn from multiple trainers that have a combined 30+ years. He and his dogs have also won multiple trophies in WAGS trials in Wyoming. Keep in mind these methods are what Cole has found works best for him, but doesn’t mean this is the only way to do things.