There’s a lot of difference when it comes to training a pointing dog than training a retriever or a flushing dog. Some dogs are born to flush and fetch. That’s why Labrador Retrievers and Springier Spaniels are so popular. It’s in their names. It’s the same with a German Shorthair Pointer and English Pointer. They are born to point, they have a long history of pointing and they do it well.
Just as the two dog styles of hunting are vastly different, so is their training. You don’t have to teach to a lab to retrieve or a Springier to flush. If you want a dependable dog you have to teach them obedience and work on enhancing their skills. Some are naturally going to be better. Some by their bloodlines and some by training.
So how is the training different? With retrievers and flushers it’s all about obedience and control. You work on their skills one on one at an early age with CPR, Consistency, Patience and Repetition. Later E-collars can be brought in to finish the dog. Some things need to be force trained. You can expect more with these breeds at an earlier age and have a finished dog at a younger age than a pointer. Remember, it takes a lot of CPR to get there. A few can be great at a young age.
Pointers are completely different. You don’t want to try to finish a pointer at an early age. Some say two years of age may be too soon for your average pointer. Others may require a third year to become the finished dog you see in all the pictures and in magazines. Head locked up looking at the bird hidden in the grass. Front arm raised and bent with its tail out straight not moving a muscle in that rigid pointing pose.
My young pointer started pointing butterflies and robins right off the bat. It has the drive and that’s all you want to do that first year is to develop the drive. We bought a pigeon harness, put in a pigeon and got a musky rod. Then we hide the pigeon in thick grass and let the pup go, pulling the bird away at the last minute with the musky rod. You quickly see what kind of drive your dog has. My pup went in at 100 mph and wouldn’t let up. It has the drive to hunt and it will increase naturally. That’s all we have planned for now.
We will take it out this fall and see what it does to develop naturally. We’re not working on perfect points, backing other dogs and forced retrieves. It may do it on its own. It may not. All were doing this first year is letting the pointing pup be a pup and to build that drive. I’ll work on obedience, come, sit, no jump, stay and kennel. The hard part will be keeping my hands off the dog and let it grow on its own.
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix Valley and can be reached at James email@example.com