Having an owner-trained gun dog for a hunting buddy can be beneficial. Recently Martha Spencer, my co-host on Bayou Wild TV, and I met with professional trainer Aaron Tucker of Florida K9 Unleashed to demonstrate the first step in conditioning your bird dog.
"We're here today with Archer the dog to start to show you how to introduce gunfire to your dogs," he explained. "Gunfire is not a natural sound. In nature, loud sounds mean 'Go find safety' so we're kind of asking the dogs to do something against nature."
"So what we're going to do is we have Don sort of standing in the background and he's going to shoot. Every time he shoots the gun, Martha is going to pay Archer because what we're trying to do is we're simulating the gunfire but we're also telling the dog it's a good sound. We're also starting with a cap gun, we'll work up to a louder gun."
We also brought with us for this story Smokie, my German Shorthaired Pointer. She's about eight months old and she is somewhat accustomed to gunfire, but we're going to give her a little more work today using the same method Aaron just showed us.
"This also will help work on your relationship with your dog and build your bond stronger which is ultimately my goal as a dog trainer," he said.
So if you've got a bird dog you want to train on your own and you don't have a place where you can fire guns or release live birds, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Wildlife Management Areas have Bird Dog Training Areas where they issue free permits. Go online, get your permit, bring your dog and you'll be ready to go.