Hunting is a natural instinct in well bred bird dog puppies but you have to nourish it with experience. When I first introduce the pups to quail we go right to the pen and let a few out for them to mostly chase. Once the birds have flown off into the woods we go hunt for them. After they’ve done this a few times I take the pen out of the equation and make sure there’s some quail in the woods that we pas through on our morning walks. I don’t stand around and wait for them to find the birds. We move through the woods just like we will when they start hunting for wild birds. Most of the time the older puppies find some of the quail off the flow of the walk. Occasionally we also find a grouse on our walks. The Jack X Belle puppies have already had a number of grouse contacts. This morning the littler Moon X Mariah puppies had their first grouse encounter when they went to explore under a big field spruce. I don’t know who was more surprised — me or the puppies. I do know that they thought it was pretty exciting and were in hot pursuit when it flushed. They are still puppies and carry sticks around, stopping and smelling the deer droppings (and also give it the taste test), but they are also learning every time we go out. They are also getting great exercise as we spend more and more time in the woods instead of the fields. They are becoming fearless and navigate all the obstacles that we have to cross. I hardly ever speak to them on these walks — just occasionally alerting them to changes in direction as I vary the route everyday. It won’t be long before they know all the routes and figure they can find their way without my guidance. Then we’ll start going different places and doing more hands on training.
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