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Chasing and barking at birds

I have a 13 week old SM female. She is taking to obedience training nicely and loves to run. She is extremely birdy but not pointing much yet. My question is about barking. In the morning I let her run on a golf course. The smooth fairways are ideal for teaching her to get out and run. The fairways are frequented by robins and starlings. She'll scent them, see them from afar, and start chasing. The problem begins when the birds take off or if she sees them already flying. I understand that at this point the chasing is no problem as she will learn she can't catch them, but she barks like crazy at them. We've started working on a "quiet" command in the house but I doubt she'll listen right now while she's giving chase. Do I have something to be concerned with or should I just let her have her fun for now? Thank you for your help. Buddy

There are two schools of thought here to consider. First, your dog is very young and there is lots of learning to be accomplished in the next 2 years. Thirteen weeks is not even an huntable age. It is the age for fun with some very minor general obedience commands that I am sure you are starting to introduce. Quiet is a good command for you to use and I do suggest you do that. But not while the dog is chasing. I am sure with age she will get over this phase. Later, if you start to train for testing and barking does become a problem, a bark collar may be just the ticket. But that is a long way off. Over time the dog will learn to be quiet.

Second, there are others that would say step up the quiet command now! I for one do not like noisy dogs as I did wait too long with a now 6 year old and I am paying the price. But this dog is unique as once it learns what is correct - it doesn't ever forget. Ever. I have never seen a dog so eager to please and attack the task at hand. It is just getting there that is the challenge for me.

So ask yourself. Does it bother me? If "Yes", take the right corrective action and if no then do nothing.

Now a few words of caution. Your dogs barking after birds at this point should be over-looked while chasing. If we try to correct this we may do something to take this natural birdiness out of the dog. We could possibly cause more problems down the line. So I would let the frantic chasing for fun while barking go. However, in all yard and controlled situations I would not allow it. Constant barking can and will become a problem. General command of quiet by grabbing the muzzle and pointing a finger is what I use. Though this female of mine does bark occasionally - all I need do is say quiet and she does stop.

One more thing - don't worry about her pointing at this age. I would suggest you do join a NAVHDA chapter that will be able to help you if you are new to pointing dogs. If you are an old hand then please forgive my ignorance :-). I love watching SM's and have seen some very nice dogs through selective breeding.

Hope I was of help. And let us know how you fare.


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