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Avoiding Bad Behavior In Your Bird Dog

April 9, 2024
Tracy Breen

When a bird hunter purchases a new puppy, they can’t wait to bring it home. They dream of all the good days that lay a head and how much fun they are going to have with the dog in the field.  For many bird hunters, the dreams quickly become nightmares when they realize that the bundle of joy they brought home turned into the Tasmanian devil.
At first, many bird dog owners try to cope with a wild and crazy puppy by buying chew toys, giving them treats, and doing whatever they can to keep the puppy occupied.  Over time the bad habits get worse and the puppy grows into an adult dog with many of the bad habits that it had asa puppy.

If the bad habits a puppy has aren’t corrected, they grow into an unruly dog: a dog that is uncontrollable when visitors are at the house, a dog that doesn’t listen when it is time to go in acrate, and is deviant when it is in the woods and realizes it can do what it wants without consequences.
One guy who sees all these problems often is Michael Mapes of Second Chance Bird Dogs.  Mapes runs a dog rescue for hunting dogs and has turned many problem dogs into rock stars bytraining them properly. Below are a few tips that might help you turn your unruly dog into awell-behaved bird finding machine.  

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Like kids, dogs need boundaries. Mapes believes one of the main reasons dogs end up at hisrescue is because many dog owners do not have boundaries for their dog.  “From the time a puppy is placed in a new home, the puppy is trying to figure out where he belongs in the pecking order in the family,” Mapes explained. “If there are no boundaries, the dog will soon rule the household. It will do what it wants when it wants, especially if the dog realizes it is the boss.  Some breeds have a tendency to start biting and being crazy if they never get reprimanded for bad behavior.”

Dogs need to know they are not in charge. “A dog shouldn’t be allowed to be crazy in the house.  A dog shouldn’t be allowed to jump all over people or bark whenever it wants. The dog needs to know it is the low man on the totem pole. From the time it comes home the first time it needs tobe disciplined so it realizes that.”Most bird dogs must have exercise. “Birds dogs are high strung dogs. They have a lot of energy and they need to run. If a family wants to buy a dog that sits on the couch and cuddles with them 24/7, a bird dog breed is not for them,” Mapes said. “Bird dogs need exercise on a daily basis and if they don’t get it, they will often become destructive and destroy things in the house or bite people.  Letting a dog run in the yard for an hour a day or taking the dog on a long walk can oftenturn a misbehaved dog back into man’s best friend.”

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A well-behaved dog is one that has structure in its life, knows where it belongs in the pecking order of the family, and has a task to perform. During hunting season, that task is to find birds. During the off season, that task is to go for walks with mom and dad and have fun running around.  Do you want a well behaved dog? Give it boundaries, spend lots of time with it, and spend time training it. Like most things in life, you will get out of a dog what you put into it.
A bird dog isn’t for everyone. If you have the time, energy, and patience, a bird dog may be for you. If you don’t have time to properly take care of a high energy dog, maybe you should consider a lap dog, otherwise it may end up in a rescue like Second Chance Bird Dogs.