New to Gun Dog Training and WPG's

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New to Gun Dog Training and WPG's

Postby SaskStallion » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:08 pm

Hi All. I'm new to Gun Dog training, and have a few questions on training our 4 month old WPG.
We are working on the standard obedience right now (sit, down, come, heel etc.).
A few questions have come up regarding how to start him with bird training:
1) We don't have access to birds, but have some wings and dummies that we have acquired. How should we start him on these?
2) He is a timid dog. How long should we wait before introducing .22 cal gunfire, and what is the best way to do this?
3) With him being timid, should we be skeptical of him becoming a decent hunting partner ?
4) How often should we be doing bird training at this age?

Here are some other questions we have that are non-hunting related:
1) We are working with him using a training collar (ie: choke chain style) and he seems to always want to pull during walks. Any ideas on getting him out of this behavior?
2) His training collar is cutting/wearing off the hair on his neck. Is this normal? Will his Griffon-like hair be ruined as a result of this? Is there something we can do to still enforce commands without this happening?

Thanks in advance for all of the help! As I'm new to this forum, I apologize if I'm not following the required format/protocol etc. I hear that this is a great resource for help, so I'm excited to see what people have to say!
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Re: New to Gun Dog Training and WPG's

Postby mastercaster » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:48 am

Here's a good way to accomplish your second question ,,,,,which was just recently asked on another forum. It was written by a knowledgeable hunter and I doubt he'll mind having the info passed on. I pretty much followed the exact same process except I didn't have any live birds when she was really young but I had done enough exposure using cap guns, a starter's pistol, a .22, etc. from varying distances when she was doing something she enjoyed that when I did fire a 20 ga. at birds while hunting this fall she didn't bat an eye and was birdier than ever.

Here's his method:

"I never start with a firearm, if something goes wrong you now have a big problem to fix. Part of my training method is to avoid as many problems up front if possible. Much easier to get it right to start with than to have to fix a problem later. I start with loud noises when they're doing something they like. When they're playing with another dog, rough housing with you or a family member, whatever they do that gets them happy and fired up. We do loud noises at this point with pots, bubble wrap, banging two pieces of wood together, whatever is available when the pup is having a blast. After doing that a bit then we'll do loud sounds while they eat, if they enjoy eating.

After that, shoot a 20ga about 40 yards away when the pup is having fun and then slowly move closer. Then we'll add a bird flush, at this point the gun is back to 40 yards away. If the pup at any time stops and looks for the sound, we get the pup back to being excited. (Go get em, where's the bird, fetch... whatever, so the pup gets back to the fun.) We want the loud sound being associated with something fun... and we don't add the bird until we're sure the pup is okay with the gunfire.

Again, think about the problem that could happen (probably not but why risk it) you fire a gun for the first time with a bird involved. Things don't go well and the pup gets scared. Now he/she associated fear with a bird and a loud sound... no thanks. I know what we do is way more than most folks do, or need to do, but I will tell you that every time someone comes to me, or speaks to me about a dog that is gun shy it has always been because of something a human did with gun intro... every time. And although most times gun shyness can be cured it's not easy and takes a long time."
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Re: New to Gun Dog Training and WPG's

Postby Urban_Redneck » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:37 am

IMO, you need birds to make a bird dog. Chasing pigeons or quail will make conditioning to the gun most likely to succeed.

I use a Gibbons-West style pinch collar, use the collar to deliver a correction and release. Letting the dog pull against any collar to the strain they are comfortable with will prolong training and can cause hair loss.

My $0.02
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Re: New to Gun Dog Training and WPG's

Postby Duckdon » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:16 pm

SaskStallion wrote:Hi All. I'm new to Gun Dog training, and have a few questions on training our 4 month old WPG.
We are working on the standard obedience right now (sit, down, come, heel etc.).
A few questions have come up regarding how to start him with bird training:
1) We don't have access to birds, but have some wings and dummies that we have acquired. How should we start him on these?
2) He is a timid dog. How long should we wait before introducing .22 cal gunfire, and what is the best way to do this?
3) With him being timid, should we be skeptical of him becoming a decent hunting partner ?
4) How often should we be doing bird training at this age?

Here are some other questions we have that are non-hunting related:
1) We are working with him using a training collar (ie: choke chain style) and he seems to always want to pull during walks. Any ideas on getting him out of this behavior?
2) His training collar is cutting/wearing off the hair on his neck. Is this normal? Will his Griffon-like hair be ruined as a result of this? Is there something we can do to still enforce commands without this happening?

Thanks in advance for all of the help! As I'm new to this forum, I apologize if I'm not following the required format/protocol etc. I hear that this is a great resource for help, so I'm excited to see what people have to say!



1. Get access to birds. Wild is best. Can't train a bird dog without birds. I am going to assume you have already checked into a local NAVHDA Chapter. Those folks can help.
2. Timid or doesn't understand? I start my pups at 6 weeks with gun fire.
3. Timid? Depends on how you handle it from the beginning and what level is your expectation?
4. Training, every day in the form of exposure and positive reinforcement. I would use birds every few days and at least once a week.

1. I like a pinch collar for adverse training. I would be using positive reinforcement with hot dogs at this age for basic OB.
2. Yes, collars ware off hair. See answer above.
Good Luck with your Griff.
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