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by Dan Beard

How To Teach a Dog to Retrieve

Commence with the young pup.  Almost any dog will chase a ball and very soon learn to bring it to his master.  When you have taught your dog to "fetch," he may be tried with game.  It is very probable that the first bird he brings will be badly "mouthed;" that is, bitten and mangled.

To break him of this, prepare a ball of yarn so wound over pins that the slightest pressure will cause the points to protrude and prick any object pressed against the ball.  After the dog has pricked his mouth once or twice with this ball be will learn to pick it up and carry it in the most delicate manner. He may then be tried again with a bird.  This time he will probably bring it to you without so much as ruffling a feather ; but if notwithstanding his experience with a ball of pins your dog still "months " the game, you must skin a bird and arrange the ball and pins inside the bird skin so as to prick sharply upon a light pressure.  Make the dog "fetch" the bird skin until he is completely broken of his bad habit of biting or "mouthing" game.

Pointers and Setters

At first you will have to give your commands by word of mouth, but if you accompany each command by an appropriate gesture the pup will soon learn understand and obey the slightest motion of the hand or head.  The less noise there is the greater is the chance of killing game.  Nothing is more unsportsmanlike than shouting in a loud voice to your dog while in the field.

After teaching a dog to "heel," " down charge," and to "hi on" at command, you may show him game and teach him to "quarter" his ground by moving yourself in the direction you wish the dog to go.  The dog will not be long in understanding and obeying.

When your pointer comes to a point teach him to be steady by repeating softly, "steady, boy, steady," at the same time holding up your hand.  In course of time the words may be omitted; the hand raised as a caution will keep the dog steady; but should he break point and flush the game, as a young dog is more than liable to do, you may give him some appropriate words that the dog will remember.  After your dog has been taught to obey, it is well to put him in the field with an old, well-trained dog.

As every sportsman has a peculiar system of his own for training a dog, it is scarcely necessary for me to give more than these few hints.  Spare the lash and keep a good stock of patience on hand; otherwise in breaking the dog you will also break his spirit and have a mean, treacherous animal that will slink and cringe at your slightest look, but seldom obey you when he thinks he is out of reach of the dreaded whip.


American Boys' Handy Book






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.