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Discussion Starter #1
How does one choose what type of bird to get their V started on? Seems like quail is the way to go in my neck of the woods. Is that a regional thing based on the type of birds around or is it that there are just a lot of quail & pigeons regardless? Maybe a stupid question, but the hunting books I have don't say too much about it. Once you introduce the dog to birds, then what? What do you do with the birds? How do you plant them for the dog to find them? There is a guy not too far away who has live quail, but I am a real novice & am curious about these hunting things.
 

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A lot depends on the age of the dog.

"Generally" the birds are protected in wire cages for the first few encounters, and a puppy is allowed to walk up to them and check them out.
As the pup gets older, and bolder, the birds are tethered and allowed to take short flights, or run. It gets very difficult to plant the birds very quickly as the dog will figure out that your scent, and the birds scent, are intermingled and will follow your scent to the bird, so the birds are free released and allowed a period of time to get foot scent on the ground and the dog is brought into them.
The gun is "typically" introduced by firing a blank pisto behind your back as your dog is going nuts in a field of birds. This has to be done carefully or you can end up with a gun shy dog.
Eventually everything is put together in a dogs mind to Point, Steady at wing, mark the fall, and then retrieve,

Pigeons are typically better flyers than pen raised quail. Quail when released in number a dozen or so, will call to each other and move towards one another, thus leaving a lot of foot scent. Reared properly though, quail are very strong fliers and can really rocket out.
Quail are relatively cheap and can be kept in captivity for long periods of time. Contrary to popular belief they do not become little cannibals and need their beaks clipped if kept properly. Quail also recall, sort of like homing pigeons, so they can be used mutliple times.
Chukar is another bird that is used. it's big and strong and flys well when conditioned.
Pheasants are also used. A little more expensive, and difficult to keep, but good for the dog.

I would sat thaty quail and pigeons are most used due to to their low cost, and recall ability.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, Gunnr. I always appreciate your posts in this forum.
Last weekend we had a V playdate @ a woman's farm who has a V pup in our current puppy class. She is "connected" in what seems to be a little V community via Vizsla Club of the Carolinas. One attendee is the VP of VCC & trainer of Vs and Brittnays. I had contact with him in the past about helping us train Pumpkin for lower level Hunt tests or Field trials. Novices with a lot to learn in my house. Anyway, he was saying he introduces his dogs to birds as early as possible. Starting with feathers (smells at 6-8wks I think). He was then sharing how another V who was there with his handler was trained to the SH level by planting birds (often along power line towers). I was not a part of the whole conversation, this V is also 2 yrs old and obviously trained with multiple exercises, so I have just been trying to piece how you introduce birds by reading & asking. Many of the books explain what dogs need to know/perform, but they often don't give the exact "how to" for the ignorant like me. It doesn't help that their are multiple opinions; therefore, I rely on this site a lot. I trust this trainer we will see again next month, because he is a V breeder, believes in positive training, and no force fetch. This crowd is a little intimidating, because they are breeders who compete. They were not in any way snotty, but the "what bitch is Pumpkin out of" & questions about champion pedigree made me a little less forthcoming with questions. Pathetic I know :-[ Quail & quail fields are about all we see around here, but I have not looked into pigeons. I will. How big of a pen does one need to keep birds? Do you buy pens at hunting supply stores? How many to buy starting out? Do you ever clip their wings? If one is wounded, do you shoot it with the dog around? Pumpkin has not been introduced to the gun and only hunts tweety birds. You can't even let her out to pee without her slinking/pointing into the bushes for finches, blue birds & tweets . She will only be 6m on the 14th, so we want to go slow. My ignorance is making sure that happens without effort ;D Really appreciate all the helpful info! Sorry so many questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Picture of some of the Vs at our "playdate" last weekend. Not all of the Vs present are in the picture. I have never had the opportunity to see so many Vs in one place romping in fields. A treat!
 

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Kelly-

I am in the exact same situation as you, a complete novice hunting trainer with a dog that wants to hunt. Part of the fee we paid our breeder went to a few hunting lessons on his land. I am sure Stella was exposed to birds when she was younger, but I don't know what was done.

I took Stella out there in the fall when she was 4.5 months for her first 'lesson'. Basically, we let her play with a grouse that had the flight feathers clipped. The grouse could fly maybe 30 yards at the most. Stella was unsure at first, but then began pawing at the bird and then finally figured our she should put it in her mouth. I didn't give her any commands during this, she kind of figured it out on her own. When she picked the grouse up and brought it back to me I praised her, but that is about it. We began throwing the bird up in the air and she'd go find it and bring it back. She was so locked in on the bird we decided to introduce the gun. Th breeder fired a blank pistol maybe 50 yards away while I was throwing the bird up in the air for Stella. She didn't care at all about the noise (which was pretty loud, I jumped once). We gradually got closer with the gun and eventually were firing it from 10 yards away. That was enough for one day and Stella did well.

We went back again about a month later. We introduced a pigeon to her that had a piece of rubber hose tied to its foot. This bird was much larger than the grouse and Stella was not shy to pick it up and carry it around. The breeder then planted some grouse on his land while she was distracted with the pigeon. Stella was able to track them down, but usually flushed them because she ran too closely to them. After a few times of flushing the birds she stopped short and began pointing. She pointed a few times and I was a proud owner. It was cool to see her instincts take over.

Being that it is the middle of the winter here, the only thing that I have done is occasionally drag a frozen grouse around the house and hide it from Stella. It usually doesn't take her too long to find them.

Stella is 8 months now and about 40 pounds. I'll be taking her to a game farm next weekend to put her on some live birds. I'm excited to see how she does.

Darrin
 

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kellygh

I'm not a pro trainer, just a guy that was once in the same exact position that you are now twenty some years ago.
My method works sort of like this:

Get the dogs/puppies on birds as soon as possible. I used to hide bird wings in the house, and fake little scent trails by pushing the wing with a stick around on the floor and hiding it under a couch or chair. My puppies were 7-8 weeks old when this started. They were just allowed to find it on their own
I then planted quail in wire poultry cages outside and each time they went out they were allowed to just find them.
By 12 weeks old I had them following the foot trails of quail I released, and they were allowed to chase them around. They quickly learn to not chase too much or the bird flies.

This is all done hand in hand with obedience training and as their lessons are getting better the quail are introduced as the distraction.
By 8-10 months I have them in the forrest hunting quail that I release that have been allowed to roam free for a day or so.( This is why I won't clip a quail's beak.)
Introducing the gun can be a little tricky. It works best if you can get your dog and another with hunting experience n a field full of birds . Get them both working on the birds and each time a bird pops up in the air, fire a blank pistol behind your back.

Quail are purchased through mail order and shipped to you as day old chicks. Typically they are are about a dollar each and come in lots of 100. It takes about 3 months to raise them to the point they can be used for training, so you get them early in the spring to train through the summer and be ready for the fall season.
The mortality rate can be high, 35-40%, so buy 200-300 of them. You will be releasing these birds by the dozens, so you'll need a lot of them.
An adult quail requires one square foot of pen space, juveniles much less. A 10'x12' enclosure will suffice, but the bigger the better. I have a 14x20 pole barn that houses the quail. Build the structure so that the quail have to fly up to get to light, and they'll be more flight conditioned when you need them. Feed them on the ground,and get them onto wild bird seed as soon as possible to increase their chances of survival after release. I've released quail in the woods and worked the dogs on the same quail for weeks. If they can fly and eat, they can survive barring predators.

You'd be surprised at how much comes together naturally, given time and contact with lots of birds.

PS.
If you do decide to raise your quail, you'll find that you quickly will have a lot of help from the trials folks once they find that a steady supply of birds is available.
Everyone typically has to train at the same WMA's, or field trials areas, and once they know that you are releasing birds they'll run their dogs after yours in the same area. Typically no shooting is involved during the summer, so the birds stay put and everyone benefits. You with help and advice, them with steady birds. It's a good trade. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Darrin-Thanks for sharing your experience. That's great that you get a lot of help/support from your breeder. Ours lives 2 states away, but I think I'm just going to have to hire the trainer I mentioned. It must be exciting to see your dog become so "birdy!" I hope you will check back. Please let me know what you are learning and how the next training session goes :)

Gunnr-Thanks so much for the great information! I am going to get hold of some bird feathers and make some bird trails. You mentioned the dogs quickly learn not to chase too much or the birds fly, and we already see this in Pumpkin. Even when she is hunting tweety birds in the fields or bushes, she is like a slinking cat! She creeps, holds a point, and she ever so slowly creeps along in a somewhat crouched position before making a pounce or run. I have watched this evolve over the past 2m, and it has become more sophisticated. A guy said last weekend he thought birds are the best trainers, and it makes sense based on what you said & I see. As for the quail, I was thinking a smaller pen, so I appreciate you explaining that so well. If you don't raise them & get mature birds, do you still need a pen tall enough for them to fly? I don't want to suggest I want to keep the birds in horrible conditions, but some of the pens I see online are like zoo exhibits ;D I will go back & reread your post regarding dimensions. Do you use whistles with your dogs? If so, what age did you introduce them? Pumpkin has good command of down & come. Heeling is a work in progress I guess, and wait/stay is coming along well. She will wait (if out in front) with a command, but she often begins moving again before I reach her or tell her O.K. We have a check cord, but I need to read up on using that as well. I think you have a post of heeling with the check cord. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Thanks so very much, Gunnr!
 
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