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Author Topic: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?  (Read 1216 times)

Offline Ldav

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How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« on: February 11, 2019, 04:13:46 PM »
Hi all,

Could potentially have the opportunity of picking up a lab pup this spring around May, if all works out availability wise. This would be my first bird dog. He'd be a duck hunting partner and maybe chase a little upland.

I was thinking this would be great timing since that is a slow time of the year for me and I'd have a bunch of time to really hit the training hard right off the bat.

But then thinking about it, come October he'd only be 5 months old, and I'm assuming he wouldn't be ready for the field by then. But then by the time next season rolls around he'd be a year and a half.
 
Is 5-6 months too early to bring a pup along, even just to get them familiar with the environment? I assume at that age most dogs aren't fully steady enough. It just seems like waiting a year and a half is a long time to not give the dog some field time. Or is that pretty normal?

I know a lot of this is training dependent and dog specific. Just thought I'd throw it out there and see what the thoughts and experiences were of you guys that have had bird dogs forever. 

Thanks for any insight!

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 04:18:41 PM »
Follow good advice (Wolters, etc) concerning gun training first... but yeah. I don't think it can hurt if you're paying enough attention to the pup to make sure the right experience and habits come out of it. Be more concerned about what the pup is learning than you are about what you're shooting. That'll come later.
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Offline SuperX

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 04:24:51 PM »
No problem having them along at 5 months, you need to make sure they are comfortable with shotgun fire already, and you'll need to spend time handling them in the blind or field to make sure they aren't learning bad habits so you don't get to pull the trigger as much at first.  In the blind I like to be able to tie them up so they can watch, and in the field, if you can put a long rope on them, it helps to catch them up again when they get frisky.

Go easy on the early training, socialize them, kennel train and potty train them, and do basic obedience right away and don't start serious retrieving until they get their adult teeth.  Puppy teeth are great for bird wings and small canvas bumpers but not for the rubber ones.  They can get sore mouthed and sometimes quit which you don't want them to learn to do, always quit while they are still begging for more.

My first pup was a lab too, I used to stuff him in my coat and take him everywhere, back then it was mostly to the library to read retriever training books!

Offline Sneaky

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 04:36:41 PM »
my dog was gun broke and force fetched at 7 months (done by professional). Took him on his first hunt just shy of 8 months. His first two seasons were great, but the third was where everything really clicked for him. As long as the dog isn't afraid of gunfire and your expectations aren't unrealistic I don't think there is such a thing as too early, especially if the dog is birdy.

Offline Bucks2Ducks

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 05:05:33 PM »
A lot of good points on here. As has been said make the hunts for your dog, getting birds will just be a bonus. Breaking bad habits before they start! You will know what he's ready for from the training you have done before hunting season.
When the buffalo are gone we will hunt mice, for we are hunters and we want our freedom-Sitting Bull

Offline 10mmg

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 05:50:13 PM »
I agree with a lot of what has been said already. Don’t expect polished hint work but when the pup performs a positive attribute you want instilled make a huge deal out of it. Almost like you won the lottery and your buddies wonder if you lost your marbles. It may be humbling but the sooner the pup learns that the boss man loves certain behaviors in the field the better. Also get them exposed to game birds early. I used to buy pigeons at the enumclaw sales pavilion for my pups then let them chase em around with clipped wings and stick em in a field for them to find. When they did find em or pick em up. I did the whole crazy enthusiasm thing again. They are watching your reaction more than you know. Refinements come later get them excited for the game ASAP.

Offline metlhead

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 07:39:11 PM »
I have never been a retriever owner, but every bird dog I have started has gone everywhere with me as soon as they could get around on their own. Even getting them in the field at 3 months. They need help, but the bonding is intense. Not the primary dog, rather more of a tag along. If I had one from May, he would definitely be hunting that fall.

Offline Ldav

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2019, 07:49:27 PM »
Awesome. Thanks for the replies guys. Great to hear. Yeah I wouldn't expect a retrieving machine by that time, but just wouldn't want to push the dog too soon and get bad habits started.

What do you recommend for getting a puppy used to gunfire? Someone once told me to pop off a .22 blank every time before you feed them..

 

Offline 10mmg

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2019, 08:50:07 PM »
I liked taking them to the trap ranges and throwing the wing and playing retrieve games with them at 5he range about 75 yards from the gun fire.

Offline Stein

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2019, 08:55:05 PM »
Awesome. Thanks for the replies guys. Great to hear. Yeah I wouldn't expect a retrieving machine by that time, but just wouldn't want to push the dog too soon and get bad habits started.

What do you recommend for getting a puppy used to gunfire? Someone once told me to pop off a .22 blank every time before you feed them..

I started with a cap gun and treats.  4th of July is a good time too, I took her out and gave her a treat every time someone fired something off nearby.  I think that was really good for her because she was very nervous at first but learned to deal with the noise and by the end of the evening it didn't bother her.

I also made it a point to get her around loud noises of all kinds, mowers, string trimmer, chainsaw and the nail gun I was using to build a shed her first year. 

Offline Colin

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 08:13:00 AM »
Let your level of training dictate if you take your pup hunting or not. Don't get in a rush and take them hunting when they aren't ready. Others have mentioned some key milestones to hit before you do.

I like to take mine out once they have reached a point in training where I can't simulate any closer to a real duck hunt short of going hunting. That way I've exposed the pup to everything in controlled situations in training before we encounter that in the field. I took mine hunting at 10 months old.

I'd suggest looking into Bill Hillman's Training A Retriever Puppy DVD. It is a great step by step method for teaching a retriever for trainers old and new. It covers all the major milestones in early training.

I think a lot of what and how you do it should be dependent on your goals for you and the dog. Let that dictate where and when you start hunting. Post some pics when you get your pup!!!


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Online jagermiester

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2019, 03:01:39 PM »
Just like taking a young person out. Keep it fun don't expect too much and make sure that it is about the dog and not about yourself and you will be doing your dog a solid taking it out to be exposed to the best thing that will ever happen.

As far as gunbreaking I do like to bang some pots and pans and slam some cabinet doors and smack some flipflops together and shoot off a blank and anything else that you can think of right before your dog eats when they are in another room. As soon as they start coming to the loud noise give it a couple of days and then do it every once in a while when the dog eats. Before you know it the dog will really associate the loud noise with something good. Then while out having fun training slowly introduce the gun.

Have fun with the new pup when you get it.
Lead em if they're running.

Offline Ldav

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2019, 08:48:53 PM »
Thanks for all the recommendations! Will definitely keep all those in mind. I'm sure I'll have a bunch more questions once I find out if I'll be getting a pup from this litter or not!

Offline follow maggie

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2019, 04:50:41 PM »
As long as she’s comfortable with the gun, any field time is good.

Offline jackson7

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Re: How early is too early to bring a pup out in the field with you?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2019, 05:33:04 PM »
all good thoughts. i use a cap gun around the house. watch out, lot louder than the old ones from back when.

 


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