World Class Bird Dog Training & Hunting Facilities

The Best Things in Life always come in Two’s: Valhalla Kennels & The Bluffs, a
Dynamic Duo of World Class Bird Dog Training & Hunting Facilities

By: Tyler Bowman

It’s just a cold hard fact; the best things in this world always come in two’s. After all, who doesn’t like a good Twix candy bar? But back to bird dogs, birds certainly make bird dogs and there is perhaps no better place to accomplish this than at Valhalla Kennels and The Bluffs. Both facilities are conveniently located in the nearby towns of Bennett and Byers, Colorado offering hunters some of the state’s best pheasant and quail hunting while at the same time providing expert dog training services and world class German Shorthair Pointers.

Valhalla Kennels & Gun DogsValhalla Kennels has become the leading bird dog training facility in Colorado with a highly integrated professional training program from the hands of master trainers, Russell MacLennan and Jeff Orwat. From puppy classes to advanced gun dog training and field trial competition; the training program at Valhalla is designed to turn your bird dog into a polished performer. While at Valhalla, clients can also be rest assured that their favorite hunting companions are in the best hands while they are boarded at the training club. Russell’s wife, Stephanie MacLennan runs Valhalla with the utmost care and passion for keeping the club’s hunters and their dogs happy and healthy.

What is most remarkable about the training programs at Valhalla and the world class hunting at The Bluffs is how both facilities completely compliment each other, offering members a wide array of services and expertise pertaining not only to gun dog training but also trophy mule deer and antelope hunting. Some of the best bucks in eastern Colorado can be found on the plains and prairies surrounding the club. Both facilities help benefit members by allowing them access to Colorado’s best gun dog trainers, upland hunting, big game hunting and training programs. Hunters not only get to enjoy having their dogs trained and conditioned into hunting shape at Valhalla but are also able to enjoy countless days afield at the neighboring Bluffs in pursuit of a truly wild and always adventurous hunting experience, all within a convenient drive from Denver and Denver International Airport.

It all starts at Valhalla Kennels, where hunters and their dogs are able to take advantage of Colorado’s best training facility with ample room to run along the lush riparian zone known as Kiowa Creek. The club is comprised of prime pheasant and bobwhite habitat as well as the ability to hunt rows of standing crops to work flushing dogs on running pheasants…

Valhalla Hunt ClubLots of birds can be found on the property and the club always has on hand quail, pheasant and chukars for working all ages of gun dogs. Not to mention a top-notch staff to help you with all of your training needs. The training program at Valhalla is truly dynamic and designed to take your next hunting companion from a puppy to a truly finished gun dog.

Members at Valhalla enjoy puppy classes on Saturdays, which are a great way for participants to enjoy hands on training sessions and advice from legendary gun dog trainer Jeff Orwat. From there members can choose to enroll in Jeff’s training program or work their dogs by themselves on live birds.

Jeff also helps speed up the training process by actually teaching owners how to handle their dogs in the field. Jeff can be seen routinely guiding hunts at The Bluffs to show his clients how best to handle their dogs in actual hunting conditions. By taking owners and their dogs on guided hunts, Jeff is able to teach his clients how to properly handle their dogs on birds using the training fundamentals he has put in place. Visits to the bird room after a morning’s hunt always reveals Jeff’s success and knowledge of bird dogs, as the room is always filled with lots of birds and even more smiles.

The Bluffs Wingshoot ClubBoth The Bluffs and Valhalla really do give members the best of both worlds in a hunting and training facility. The Bluffs allows members thousands of acres to run hard running pointing dogs or work their favorite flushing dog through the nooks and crannies of woodlands, creek bottoms and CRP fields than encompass the vast Bijou Creek that supports the bulk of the hunting at the club. In addition, members also enjoy hunting sagebrush flats and grasslands for the added challenge of pinning a running rooster through thick cover. During a typical day at The Bluffs, hunters can expect to run into multiple coveys of bobwhite quail and chukar and there are always plenty of wily pheasants running about…

In the end, the ultimate proving ground is the dogs. And the German Shorthair Pointers at Valhalla are bar none the best in the business. So is should also come as no surprise that from both The Bluffs and Valhalla has originated one of today’s best lines of German Shorthair Pointers. The breeding program at Valhalla is founded from a collection of some of the most prominent shorthairs in the history of the breed including such infamous individuals as Dixieland’s Rusty, Rawhide’s Clown, 2X NSTRA Champion General Norman, 14X NSTRA Champion Premier’s Fancy Trail Blazer, and Double K Mistress.

Valhalla Shorthairs are the perfect companion for the upland hunter looking for an awesome pointing dog in the field and at home. Many of the members at Valhalla and The Bluffs hunt Valhalla German Shorthairs exclusively, a true testament to their exceptional noses, bird finding ability, style and grit. Many of the puppies are developed and trained at Valhalla and then move on to get more bird exposure and experience hunting the vast Bijou creek bottom on the rolling prairies of The Bluffs, transforming the young pups into bird finding machines.

But beyond the shorthairs, the training staff at Valhalla is well versed in training and developing all breeds of gun dogs. It is common to walk the kennels at Valhalla and see representatives from most if not all of the major breeds of pointing and flushing dogs. Vizlas, wirehairs, springer spaniels, cockers, brittany spaniels, English setters and even pigs and pet skunks can be found hanging out at the club…

Valhalla and The Bluffs are a prime example to all hunters and sportsmen of the benefits of having a bird dog training facility and hunting club to help develop world-class bird dogs. Whether you like pheasant hunting behind your favorite yellow lab or watching your pointer cruise the hillsides in search of single quail, Valhalla and The Bluffs can take care of all of your upland hunting and gun dog training needs. The next time you are looking to take your puppy from a greenhorn to a polished and professional bird dog, be sure to call Valhalla and The Bluffs, they’ll be happy to help provide for you the best bird dog training and upland hunting close to home.

The Three Stages of Professional Gun Dog Training

Professional gun dog training takes time and patience. It also takes commit to a proven program, consistent handling, and a dog with a love of the game. Only when a dog masters one stage is it appropriate to move on and increase the difficulty, physical conditioning and command structure. So, what are the three stages of gun dog training and how do they benefit dog and hunter?

  1. Rookie training.This is the introductory stage for the dog that has had little or no exposure to any prior gun dog training.  Puppies should be at least 16 weeks old before being enrolled in this stage. The dog learns to point and chase. They are exposed to birds, guns and hunting grounds.  Rookie training is all about establishing a good foundation.  Prey drive and basic field commands (here) are the primary focus.  The training program at Valhalla is all about developing a confident dog but don’t expect a tremendous amount of discipline in this stage.
  2. Seasoned training.Once your dog behaves with confidence in the field and has mastered the basic command, it is time to move up to the second training stage. Terming it the seasoned stage, this level is open to dogs that are at least six months of age. At this level, there is more differentiating between the training received by pointing and flushing dogs. Pointing dogs learn the “whoa” command while flushing dogs train to sit by whistle command. Dogs must learn to control their impulses to chase game birds by pointing without engaging and by letting other dogs take the lead when instructed.  The rate at which dogs complete this stage varies.  On average this is a 6-8 week program that we recommend be completed 100% and not broken into multiple visits.  This is also the stage in training where you will see a more disciplined dog that is ready to go to the field.
  3. Trained Retrieve.This intense 8-10 week program is the finishing touch for any bird dog.  There is a misconception that just because the dog likes fetching this program isn’t necessary.  The truth is, this program is all about the respect of the command and respect of the handler and fetching is just the by product.  Our Valhalla guarantee is that every dog leaves the program happy and with their tail wagging.  Jeff compares a dog that has gone through this program to driving a car with power steering.  Sure, you can drive a car without but it’s no fun.

Contact us today for more information on the importance of the three-staged training approach.  Moreover, find out what a dog with professional gun dog training under its belt will offer to you, the hunter, while in the field.

What Should You Expect from Quality Gun Dog Training Programs?

Gun dog training programs are key components when it comes to training a puppy or older dog in the fine art of quail hunting or the perfect handling of other game birds that you harvest. Yet where can you find the right type of help? While plenty of kennels might hang out shingles that claim to assist with gun dog training programs, there are some features that are found only with high-quality facilities and expert trainers. Do you know what they are?

  • An introductory phase. Contrary to popular believe, your pointer puppy will not take to retrieving pheasants like butter to a biscuit. Instead, the noise of the hunt, the shots of the guns and the dogs that accompany other hunters are major distractions – even for a puppy that comes from a long bloodline of established gun dogs. A quality training program understands that it takes your puppy a little time to get used to the commotion as well as to the training collars and other hardware. We allow it to sniff things out and investigate to increase prey drive.
  • Owner perspective. Particularly if you are a newcomer to the sport yourself, you need a bit of a reality check. The romanticized images of the lone hunter with the dog carrying a perfectly presented duck during a dusk still shot are not really the reality. Instead, become familiar with the training levels other hunters have reached, see what dogs in your puppy’s age group are accomplishing and find out how other owners train their dogs to enhance their natural instincts. This is why group setting classes are a great way to start the training process.
  • Experienced trainers. This is where the kennel with the haphazard shingle is the most different from the well-established gun dog training program. Experts in the discipline are thin on the ground. It is not enough for the training director to be a hobbyist who has partially trained a gun dog and has “seen it done” plenty of times. No, what you want is the professional who has been part of the training scene for years – preferably decades – and is training gun dogs for your type of hunting and not just focusing on passing tests.

Since you are wondering how to train a gun dog, talk to the friendly folks at Valhalla Bijou Hunt Club & Kennels. Contact us today for in-depth information on kennel rates, policies, reservations or just to tour the kennels for a closer look at what makes us different from the rest.

When to Spay or Neuter Your Dog

People are very passionate about animals, especially those with whom they grow emotionally attached. For this reason, some decisions involved with raising and training bird dogs can be very controversial. This is especially true with neutering or spaying your bird dog. Dog owners and other interested parties have strong disagreements about whether or not dogs should be fixed at all. If owners do decide to spay or neuter, there is further controversy regarding when exactly is the best time to have the operation performed.

Of course, there are many nuanced arguments for both sides. Proponents point to a reduced risks of prostate health issues, diabetes, and tumor growth, all in addition to the most obvious benefit of all—prevention of unwanted pregnancies. Those who are against neutering and spaying contend that it causes unnatural development issues in dogs. Indeed, there are reasonable arguments from both sides of the issue.

Dogs are used for a wide variety of purposes, including police work, household companionship, and even performing in shows. Every situation has its own set of ideal circumstances when it comes to spaying and neutering.

However, here at Valhalla Kennels & Gun Dogs, we are focused on what is best for the training bird dog. We believe in spaying or neutering our dogs. We have not found that spaying or neutering bird dogs affects their hunting ability or potential. A good pedigree and proper training are the true factors when it comes to performance.

However, we also feel that it is important to wait until the dog is fully developed physically, to prevent the worst of the aforementioned issues. Fixing a dog too early can cause reduced bone growth, sometimes resulting in tall, lanky males that have a narrow chest and head. Females are usually fully developed between the ages of 9 and 12 months, while male dogs typically take around 2 years.

Valhalla Kennels & Gun Dogs is an upland bird-hunting club near Denver, Colorado that caters to both hunters and their dogs. Our nationally recognized gun dog training program can help get the most out of your growing dog.

Proper Nutrition for Bird Dogs

Nutrition for Bird DogsYou’ve heard the stories about Olympic athletes, and the seemingly insane amount of food they consume as part of their training regimen. The fact is, bodies that are expected to be as active as these athlete’s need much more fuel than average to continue to perform at a higher level.

Of course, the same holds true for bird dogs. They need to be fed differently than your typical pet dog because they are required to maintain a much higher level of endurance, tirelessly running for long periods while maintaining heightened senses.

That being said, all dogs are much different than their human counterparts. In fact, there’s a long list of foods commonly eaten by humans that are potentially dangerous if ingested by a dog. Dogs are carnivorous animals that operate best when metabolizing fat and protein. Furthermore, coming from the wolf family, dogs are better suited than humans to gorge on large amounts of food, waiting longer periods of time between meals.

After all is said and done, most trainers shoot for a source of nutrition with about 30% protein and 20% fat for high performance bird dogs. But the quality of food is a little more complicated than those simple levels suggest. For example, there are many different types of protein, some considered much more beneficial than others. This is the difference between high quality and low quality dog food.

At Valhalla Kennels & Gun Dogs, we feed and recommend Purina Pro-Plan Performance dog food because it delivers high levels of fat and protein derived from high quality sources. We also use supplements like fish oil and glucosamine to maintain joints that can withstand high stress in the field.

We feed our dogs based not on the arbitrary numbers listed on the back of the food bags, but on body condition score. By closely monitoring the condition of dogs, we can adjust their feeding to keep them at their absolute healthiest weight. It’s also important to consider other variations, such as the weather. In extreme hot or cold, a bird dog might need a little extra food to keep them going strong.

At Valhalla, we also believe it’s important to feed dogs the same way year round, even in an offseason or on down time. It’s not a good idea to compromise a dog’s athletic condition just to save a buck with lower quality food.

If you’re interested in training with our experts at an upland bird-hunting club that caters to both hunters and their dogs in here in Colorado, contact Valhalla Kennels & Gun Dogs today.