Local Bird Dog Goes to College
Bird Dog College: noun, often attributive
1: An institution offering bird dog instruction usually in a technical pointing, flushing or retrieving field.
2: Off-site, advanced or secondary training beyond basic obedience and/or first year hunting skills.
While many of us dilly-dallied around campus with liberal arts, political science and philosophy classes to find our “true calling” (and push graduation back a semester or two), most bird dogs who head off to “college” don’t have the liberty of wasting precious training time staring at the bottom of an empty red Solo cup. Last time I checked, fall is quickly approaching and your dog’s scent tracking classes aren’t eligible for student aid.
Keeping this in mind, before making the commitment to enroll your pooch at an accredited institution of higher learning, you first have to decide if this is the right decision for you and your dog. Remember, no matter what anyone says, there’s no such thing as “the perfect dog,” however, there is “the perfect dog for you.”
Maybe having a dog that doesn’t retrieve all the way to hand doesn’t bother you. Perhaps having a pointer that isn’t steady to flush won’t ruffle your feathers; these are the things you need to figure out before signing that check and shipping out the pup to a trainer.
Simply put, if you’re happy with the experience you have while afield with your best friend, then there’s no need to spend more money on a trainer when you can just work at home to maintain what skills the dog already has. On the other hand, if you’re like me and don’t have the resources or skill set to get your pup to the level you desire, then you should already be anxiously awaiting an acceptance letter from a local bird dog college. You did apply, right?
My 16-month-old Lab will be heading to school very shortly, and I’m excited to see what “degree” she ends up with. Although spitting out dummies and birds at my feet was cute during her first fall, she needs to work on that (as well as marking) for both of us to have the best time possible while out chasing birds. I’m optimistic for this October, but I’d be a liar if I said I’m not a bit nervous that she might waste part of her tuition money on kibble and tennis balls. After all, she does take after her mother.
Have you ever sent your dog away to get more “polished” at a trainer? If so, were you happy with your decision?
The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.
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