What I’m reading: my favorite dog books


Even though I’ve been training bird dogs for more than 20 years, I
still consider myself a student of dog training. There is always more
to learn.

Many methods are available to further my education—most of which I’ve
tried. One of the best ways is by reading books and I’ve been
collecting books on dogs, hunting, dog training and field trials for
years. At last count they numbered 65. Some books are quite old and out
of print but remain classics. Others are newer and hip to current dog
issues. The following are among my favorites.

Be The Pack Leader and Cesar’s Way, by Cesar Millan
These books are definitely our picks for information about what a dogs needs from humans and what humans can expect of dogs.

Beyond Basic Dog Training, by Diane L. Bauman
Excellent book on basic dog obedience.

Bird Dog Training Today and Tomorrow, by Er M. Shelley
This one was published in 1921. Shelley was the first bird dog trainer to exclusively train using planted birds rather than wild birds.  He is considered by many to be the “father” of training bird dogs using pigeons.  His training ideas have stood the test of time.

Field Trials, by William F. Brown
Describes American field trials, including how they are run, standards of performance, their purpose and more.

How to Speak Dog, by Stanley Coren
How to understand and read your dog’s verbal and non-verbal communications.

New England Grouse Shooting, by William Harnden Foster
The ‘original’ bible of grouse hunting with fine bird dogs and doubles.  We especially like his thoughts on grouse dogs in Chapter IV.

Troubles With Bird Dogs (and What To Do About Them), by George Bird Evans
Another classic.  While you may agree or disagree with George’s type of grouse dog, he offers actual experiences under the gun from someone who has spent a lifetime hunting ruffed grouse.

Training the Bird Dog, by C. B. Whitford
This book was published in 1908. Whitford offers great insight into the psychology of the bird dog as well as that of the bird dog trainer. While some of his techniques have been outdated, there are many still applicable.

Flocking puppies

Sure, a bird dog can be trained to do a lot of things but I’ve learned that it’s critical to evaluate the natural characteristics of a young dog. Among the many qualities I look for is how naturally the puppy wants to hunt with you and in front of you, physical traits and hunting focus.

Buddy Smith, a nationally recognized dog trainer, uses a technique
called “flocking” puppies. This is a favorite method of mine and one I
use often when working a group of similarly aged puppies off a

workouts start when the puppies are about five months old. In the
beginning I keep my travel length to 2-3 miles. During that 30-minute
period, the dogs travel 7-8 miles according to my Garmin Astro. I’ll
gradually increase my driving distance to 5-6 miles. 

I vary
the routes so the puppies are continually stimulated by new cover. Each
route is dotted with ponds so the puppies can drink and cool down.

running the puppies, I call or whistle and increase my speed as I
change direction. If they get too wide, lag behind or aren’t paying
attention, they are soon running hard to catch up. Before long, most
start to pay close attention to where I’m heading when they hear a call
or whistle, even if chasing a song bird or butterfly.

these workouts I evaluate other natural characteristics such as gait,
carriage, stamina and range. I look for how a puppy drives from its
front and rear. I like a puppy that carries its head and tail high with
a happy way of going that says, “Look at me!”

I like a puppy
that spends every minute in the field hunting—one that gives me a quick
glance as it crosses and doesn’t come back to me. I look for an
athletic dog with good coordination, hearing and eyesight that can
focus on hunting while keeping track of me.

Besides all this valuable information I’m learning about the natural inclinations of a puppy, it’s a blast!

Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
Jerry: 651-492-7312     |      Betsy: 651-769-3159     |           |      Directions
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