Fall is my favorite time of year! We are currently in full swing hunting and trialing mode, and Rab and his family came out to a field trial a couple weeks ago to see what it was all about. Rab wasn’t entered as he has only just turned 6 months old, but the trial weekend was a great opportunity to turn him on to his first bird since he left his breeder’s!
Though quail season is open here in Southern California, pen raised planted birds are far more appropriate for a puppy’s first time since they won’t flush like wild birds do. Quail in particular is good since it is a small and unintimidating bird. The goal was to get Rab introduced to quail in a positive and fun way, and to turn that instinct on! Puppy testing done at the breeders had already revealed that it wouldn’t take too much to do so.
We first put Rab down with an older puppy who has had quite a bit of experience. Puppies will copy other dogs and they can also get competitive with each other, so we thought this might be a good idea…. uh… not this time. He didn’t realize what he was out there for and kept trying to play. Totally normal puppy stuff!
Change of plans. We decide to put the other dog away and show Rab the bird and let him chase it around. He was totally interested, and the quail decides he better high tail it into the safety of a bush. Rab follows. Here we get his first point.
As Rab finds other birds, he points again and again. The quail were running and he would follow and point. He kept doing this, clearly interested and liking those birds, but I wanted to see Rab go full force after the bird, not just point it. We needed to get at least one bird in this pup’s mouth.
The longer he was out there, the bolder he got. As one quail began to tire, he’d take a small sniff, and would try to pick it up and would point again. This was the time to let him work it out himself — and he did. He finally picked his bird up and got loads and loads of praise! Proud Rab carried his prize back to the car and showed the other pups waiting for their turn what HE had and they didn’t!
It was a great first experience.
Rab will be exposed to more birds soon, and the plan is to let him get out there and just have fun. There are no rules and no obedience while we build up his drive. We’re looking for some real fire and this will just take some birds and some experience. Working with puppies in the field is one of my favorite things, and I’m looking forward to doing more with Rab, as is his dad Iain. And to top off a great day, Iain’s son told his dad that he can’t wait to do more with Rab in the field too!
You can follow all of Rab’s adventures by following the tag, “rab.”
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