Summer is a crucial time for your gun dog. It’s hard to believe but September is less than four months away and what you do now might very well determine the fate of your dog’s upcoming season…
Conditioning is key right now. A lot of dog injuries happen from hunting a dog that is in no condition to hunt. Sitting on the couch all summer and feeding your dog the occasional bag of Cheetos is not going to help Fido out come fall…
It is very important to maintain a decent exercise schedule during the summer months. At the very least, strive to get your dog out on a few thirty minute, off leash runs twice a week to keep their head and heart both happy and healthy.
Summer is also a great time to brush up on a little training! Maybe you’re tired of watching your dog bust birds or failing to honor another dog’s point, now is the time to get out and do some real training.
The warmer months are also a great time for taking your dog out of the field and working on a trained retrieve or force fetch program. This process takes time but after it’s done your dog is simply going to be a polished performer. There is no better time than summer to get your dog force fetched so he is ready to retrieve birds to your hand next fall!
If this summer finds you and your family traveling, be sure to check out our training program. If you are planning on boarding your dog, why not give them the pleasure of getting out and worked on live birds by professional trainers? Next fall your buddies will be impressed and you will watch your bag limits go up!
So this summer be sure to stop by Valhalla on Saturdays for our Gun Dog School of Excellence and inquire about private and monthly training sessions. Next fall our goal is for your favorite gun dog to be the talk of the lodge!
Valhalla Kennels & Gun Dogs
You spent a lot of time researching dog breeds and checking out litters to find just the right pup to be your new bird dog. You know your new hunting companion will take a significant amount of training to become an amazing bird dog. There are some things you can do now, when your pup is little to help with their bird dog training. Here a few simple tips to help train a great bird dog.
Your new pup is a little one so many things might seem scary to them. It is important that you socialize the new pup early. Once your puppy has become comfortable playing with the other people and dogs in your home, it is time to venture out. A puppy class at Valhalla is a great way to introduce new smells, sounds, people, and dogs in a safe environment. Classes start every Saturday at 8:00. Puppies as young as 14 weeks are welcome to participate.
Provide Basic Training
Before learning to do anything in the field, your puppy will need some basic training at home. Begin crate training your puppy as soon as soon as possible. A puppy should be crated at night and then anytime that you are not home to supervise. When you are home let you puppy spend quality time with the family without giving them run of the house. We recommend limiting the rooms in the house that the puppy is allowed. Tethering a puppy in the house using a lead and dog bed and teaching them their space in the house is also a priceless training tool down the road. Having a puppy come to their name is the number one command you should focus on at a young age. For pointing breeds we do not encourage you to use the “sit” command as that can create problems during the Whoa breaking process. For flushing dogs please avoid the “heel” command too young because it can diminish their confidence to range. When your dog is ready for more intense training, contact us. We have private and group slots available, and provide training not only for the dog, but the handler as well.
The Great Outdoors
Long before you begin training, you should be letting your puppy explore the great outdoors. You will want them to be using their noses, chasing bugs and shadows, and running the length of the field. If you are in a safe area, we encourage you to let the puppy run off leash to really explore and burn off some energy. Puppies still need unstructured play time just like children and thrive on being able to take in and be part of their surroundings.
Playing With Birds
We encourage the prey drive in puppies with live birds. Smelling, seeing, chasing, and pointing live birds will spark the desire to hunt. Remember a puppy with a strong desire to hunt is an easier puppy to train for the field. As Jeff says “you can always rein them in later”. Don’t’ be afraid of turning your new puppy into a bird monster. It will pay off later.
Your puppy needs the right foundation before beginning training as a bird dog. Following these tips will get the puppy on the right path. At Valhalla Bijou Hunt Club & Kennels, we are dedicated to providing you with excellent training for your hunting dog. When you are ready to get started on training or have any questions, feel free to contact us.
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 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…
Lots 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.
Both 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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.