There’s No Such Thing As ‘Birdie Powder:’ Part 2

In Part 2, we will look at more training tips for your young pup.

Get your puppy used to both a leash and a check cord at any early age.

The leash will be used both when walking your puppy, and when introducing some basic obedience commands such as “heel,” “sit” and “stay.”

The check cord is also very important when working with your young dog. This is a training tool that most dog owners avoid, but I feel is the best training one the market today. Use a 30-foot piece of light rope (an old clothesline works great) and attach a snap swivel to one end of it. Let your puppy get comfortable dragging it when he is running in the back yard or the park. This will be an essential element to training both at home or at any dog training facility.

When most people get a puppy, especially one that has the word “retriever” behind the breed of dog, they usually take this characteristic for granted. However, the retrieve is something that should be addressed as soon as the pup arrives to your home, no matter the breed. Starting puppies on retrieving when they are young is usually pretty easy because they are eager to play new games. This also holds true for any breed of hunting dog.

Desire cannot be trained, here you see a 5-month-old dog who loves retrieving!

You can start with any object your dog takes a liking to play with. I usually will suggest that after you find that object, go to a hallway in your house, close all the doors, and throw it to the end of the hall. The dog will usually go and grab it and has no other option, but to come right back to you with it. After a few of these retrieves, end the game when your dog wants to keep playing. The key to this is to stop when your dog wants more. If you end when he wants to continue, usually the dog will always want to start the game all over again the next day. Remember puppies have a short attention span so keep the retrieves short in number and distance.

Try Wings For An Intro To Birds
Once you feel your dog enjoys retrieving, you can then introduce him to birds. Wings are a great idea at this stage of the game. You can often get pheasant wings at a sporting good store or you can try contacting a local game farm or dog trainer for a frozen bird. Go to that same area where you have been throwing retrieves and start by throwing the wing. It may take one or two throws or even a little “tug of war” game to get your pup started, but once he understands that the game is the same, the feathered object will soon be a fun one.

Get him on a check cord as soon as possible even if he is coming right back to you. I will almost guarantee that he will be more possessive during these retrieves. This is why we always start young dogs on both leashes and check cords before the retrieving. If you reach this point, and your dog now starts the keep away game, you will be happy with that early introduction to the long leash!

Continue these techniques the first two or three months you get your dog home. When he reaches 5 months old it is time to introduce gunfire and begin to flush live birds. If you don’t have access to birds or a place to shoot a gun, contact a trainer that will have a program designed specifically for this purpose. Make sure to ask plenty of questions about the program to ensure that you get exactly what you are looking for.

Good hunting dogs just don’t become this way over night. It takes a lot of dedication and patience, which begins the day you bring your puppy home. If you can’t spend quality time during those first few months, your dog may not reach its full potential. Remember that it is a lot easier to build desire at an early age because there is no such thing as “Birdie Powder” when he gets older.

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Jason Dommeyer has a lifetime of hunting experience and 15 years experience as a dog trainer. He has turned many pets into expert hunting dogs at Cannon River Kennels ( In addition to training hundreds of hunting companions, he has trained dogs for premier pheasant hunting lodges in South Dakota along with duck hunting lodges in Mississippi and Mexico. His experience also includes both hunting and guiding for upland and waterfowl game from Canada to South America. For more information on training your dog with Cannon River Kennels, call 507-663-6143 or visit ( He provides dog training tips twice a month.

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