With the use of the electronic launcher the pointing breed dog learns that he can’t catch the bird and it’s more productive to hold point on the bird then it is to give chase. The use of barn pigeons work perfectly and are the most economical. I don’t like using birds from game preserves as they are not always good flyers and you don’t want to risk your dog actually catching one while in training. After the dog is holding point you can start using preserve birds as you will start shooting these birds as a reward for a job well done and working on retrieving.
The video footage above was filmed at Rock Springs Ranch (Paicines, California) in late 2000.I apologize for my amateur video camera skills but this was for documenting the training progress of my dog and I was never planning to publicly share it. My dog Molly was about 3-4 months old and this was her first introduction to birds over a couple of weekends. She had amazing prey drive from the get go and she immediately started doing what 100’s of years of specialized breeding intended… POINTING. She eventually turned into a wild pheasant hunting machine that would track a wild pheasant for a mile and eventually pin it between us for a great point and flush. I lost her recently at 15 years old in June 2015 and she is sorely missed.
You’ll see in this video that the second Molly moves or creeps toward the bird after getting scent we launch the bird. Timing the launch is very important and you need to get a feel for your dog. Sometimes you won’t be sure if your dog just got a small wiff of scent and wasn’t completely sure there was a bird there or not. So you might want to let them get a little more scent and give them the opportunity to point and stay steady. It is always better to error on the the side of an early launch as you never ever want the dog to catch a bird or get too close to the launcher and get scared or injured from it. Through repetition your dog will learn to hold point and that chasing or lunging in is futile. They will then learn that the 2 of you are team and if you both do your part, point and shoot accurately, a bird will be in the bag.
Use of the electronic launcher got my dog started on the right foot. I might add that I taught Molly the “whoa” command early in her training. In addition, she was taught heal, here, leave it, fetch, come around (quarter back toward me if she was casting too far in one direction) and lastly after having a grasp of all previous commands and many many birds under her nose I taught her the down command and then finally sit. I’m not sure it was the right approach but it worked for us. Teaching her whoa also saved her life on several occasions. I do regret not teaching Molly to remain steady to flush and will teach steady to wing and shot with my next pointing dog.
Here are a couple other methods for using electronic launchers by other trainers that I found interesting and may be useful to you as well.
I particularly like the methods used by Carol Ptak and her Youtube videos.
Here’s the Higgins method and the Magic Brushpile for teaching steadiness:
My recommendation is to research the pointing breeds and determine what breed fits best with the climate, habitat, and game that you prefer to hunt. Then research and interview prospective breeders. Ask to see both parents and try to see the parents in hunting situations if at all possible. Then test the puppies with a pheasant wing on a string attached to a fishing pole. Select the puppy with the most intensity and the best solid point. Then your launcher training will be a piece of cake. Good Luck. If this info was helpful please share it.