been working on the basics, come, whoa, retrieving since 8 weeks. Come is going ok, whoas only on a check cord, and retrieves fairly well. This is my first V and I am scared to push her too hard with all the comments on how soft they are and slow to develop. I have trained a few German Shorthairs before and they are usually a bit a head of where my 5 month old is now. I am being patient and not expecting much until she is through the end of next chukar season. I plan on starting her on a bird launcher and eCollar later in the spring. I would really like to get her a bit more whoa broke before then.
I have zero experience training a bird dog! That being said, we are working with Pumpkin (5m) to ready her for some bird hunting one day &/or field trial type experiences. I have consulted 2 gun dog trainers (although they primarily work with labs), and have been reading a lot. Pumpkin knows basic commands, will come in the woods/or elsewhere 98% of the time, but she is unreliable (takes several calls to come) in high stimulation situations (ie: other dogs, new people). Last night was her 1st puppy class, and she was a rubber band waiting to snap--tight. She appeared to me to look like what I would stereo-type as a high-strung, slightly aloof hunting dog. It took a little effort getting her to refocus on me. She does reasonably well to "whoa" or a sound I make that basically means hold-up. Heel is not there. She runs birds a lot, pointing when we take her out each day off leash in undeveloped fields or our woods. Eventually I will have to obtain help from persons a lot more knowledgeable than me; however, there is a posting on checkcord.com that I like. Seems applicable to the Vs since they are suppose to be "soft." It says that a good hunting dog takes a lot of time and patience. Spend the 1st year, 1/2 hr each day, teaching 3 basic commands: come, whoa, & heel. Once the pup turns a year old, start spending an hr a day. It says if your dog knows those commands & will perform them without fail regardless of the situation, you will eventually have a great hunting partner. Because I don't know much, I plan on following that "motto", introduce birds, birds, & more birds, and then get more real help when those commands are absolute. Thanks for posting on these boards, because I depend on folks like y'all to help me
not very far along. Should be letting the dog get out in the field and explore and develop confidence. Let him learn and have fun. Could have done bird introduction by now and let him chase a few birds.
Depending on your dog you are still a couple of months away before you really start training. Can be working on directional cues and playing with fetch.
I have two Vizsla's that are 18 months old that I've been training for upland hunting. At 5 months my dogs knew the meaning of sit, lay down, and stay, and could do each somewhat reliably. Thanks to the advice of a friend, I also began training the puppies on the "Come here" command early (I use the word "here"). Other than that, I let them play with quail and pheasant wings that I drag around with a string in the backyard. I live on 7 acres, so we'd also let them run on the back of the property, where they could chase wild birds, point butterflies, grasshopers, etc.
What I've heard, and believe to be true, is that you want your young dogs to associate interaction with birds and bird smells, as something that is fun, and exciting, without the pressure of training them to do something in particular. Considering this "training regimen" for their first year, I took the dogs to Kansas for two hunting trips in December and January, and the dogs performed wonderfully. They held fairly close to the line, pointed a few birds each, as well as had some retrieves... They did all of this without any "experience" to speak of, it was natural, and their excitement about the birds was very evident. Now, with that said, they also chased every hen that flushed and birds that we didn't shoot and I couldn't hardly call them off. They pointed birds briefly, but then would rush in with excitement early, etc. I didn't bother with a whole lot of scolding at this time, and you can only yell after a dog who's running 100+ yards away for so long...
This brings me to where the dogs stand today... Given their obvious interest in birds, and aptitude for hunting, I sent them off to a professional trainer for the last two months, in an effort to give them daily interaction with bird hunting, as well as proper "whoa" training and holding a point. The trainer was happy to see dogs that were really excited about birds, and who were also respondent to a "Here" command. He really emphasized that command related learning can always be tought, but the excitment about birds needs to be there first, or all the training in the world won't make a lot of difference. The dogs have come back completely whoa trained, and you can keep them from chasing a bird that they shouldn't be chasing. They now hold their point for as long as it takes, and in general are better mannered bird dogs that I won't be embarrased to take hunting with others.
All this to say, that as long as you work on the basics, and make their intereatction with birds fun, you will have done everything you can to start a good Vizsla.