Teaching a Lab to Point
By Jim and Phyllis Dobbs
Controversy about how hunting dogs should be trained is nothing new. As is often quoted, "the only thing two dog trainers can agree on is that the third trainer doesn't know what he is talking about".
Some hunters don't even want their dog to be steady. They want their dog to get to the area of the fall quicker. They say that experience has taught them that retrieving in this manner will allow the dog to be more successful when it comes to catching up with "runners". Other hunters insist that it is important for the dog to be steady so that he can be shot over safely. And so it goes, one controversy after another.
The popularity of versatile hunting dogs has increased proportionally with the increased use of hunt clubs. Typically these clubs release birds in a designated area for each hunting party with other hunters in adjoining fields.
Pointing dog breeds tend to range far and can easily stretch the boundaries of an assigned area. Springer spaniels, though close working dogs, drive the birds quickly into the air and are fast and animated. Some people prefer a calmer style of hunting dog.
With the increase in people wanting versatile, close working hunting dogs that will point, it was only a matter of time before someone would look at the various breeds and say: "If the Labrador Retriever would only point, he would be the best dog for the purpose".
How to Train a Lab to Point
Regardless of the breed or its inherent traits, if you would like
to train your dog to point birds, here is how you can do it.
Why does this method work? It is a simple process called chaining. What we did was teach the dog a predictable chain of events. The first link in the chain is smelling the bird. The next link in the chain is launching the bird. During the initial training process, the dog was taught that the sight of a bird being launched is always followed by a command to stop. So now the dog chains together the sequence that smelling the bird means stop.
Want a Truly Fancy Gun Dog?
You can continue the training to have a truly fancy gun dog. Steps 5 through 8 will get you there.
Now you have a fancy gun dog that will both point and flush.
Dobbs Training Center