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Introducing Your Pup to Birds

What about birds and the pup?

Interest in birds and interest in retrieving are two different drives in dogs. If you want your adult retriever to have both to a high degree, you need to develop both.

When possible introduce your pup to birds right away, preferably in his first few weeks at home and before he is twelve weeks old. 

Video Lab PupStarting English Setter

Pigeons are a nice size bird for very young pups. Throw ducks as soon as your pup can carry them without a struggle. If the pup has a real hard time carrying the bird it encourages him to play with or chew on the bird.

Just like when building your pup's retrieve drive you can let her run as you tease with a dead bird. When she is really excited and chasing the bird toss it out. If she picks it up and returns just catch her and hold and stroke her and allow her to have the bird as long as she wants.

If the pup begins to crush, tear or shake the bird take it from her gently. Otherwise allow her to hold the bird until she is ready to drop it or look for another throw. If you take the bird from her as soon as she returns she will be less likely to return with her next birds.

Many pups do not know what to make of the birds at first. If your pup chases out and then just stands over or bumps and picks at the bird don't be alarmed. Just go out and tease her with the bird and throw it again. If your pup is retrieving toys and bumpers she should soon begin to retrieve this new item. With a little early exposure most pups breed for the work will begin to experience an awakening of deep genetic interest.

Once her interest turns on try to have someone else throw some marks for her using birds. Continue to throw bird marks from time to time as she grows up as long as she is not too rough with them. Some pups really turn on and can get too rough with birds. If your pup begins to try to eat the birds or crushes them stop throwing birds for her.

You want to build desire for birds without encouraging bad habits. When pups are too rough on birds it is best to wait until after you have some e-collar conditioning and or force fetch to begin to throw birds again. When possible use fresh killed birds for puppy training. If the birds have been frozen make sure they thaw well before training. Do not use birds that are broken open or have exposed skin and meat.

Throw ducks on water- wet pigeons do not hold up well and seem to invite bird handling problems in pups.

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