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Milk Run

Milk RunNot every bird dog trainer has the luxury of working in a wide range of settings. For most handlers, their dog gets an occasional change of scenery, but gets most of his routine training and bird exposure in the same field or fields that the dog has seen since puppyhood. The problem? The dog knows that field like the back of his paw.

The result is that as soon as the dog is cast off into that familiar field, he makes right for the same objectives, bushes, foxholes, or other points of interest that he usually hits out of habit. This is especially true if, during training, the handler has been in the habit of placing birds - loose or in traps - in the same spots over time.

The term "milk run" is a throwback to the days when a dairy truck would actually deliver milk to houses throughout a neighborhood. The driver would have a familier route, do the same thing every time, and everybody involved could bank on the results. Needless to say, too much predictability in a hunting dog's field time makes for a dog that doesn't need or much want to actually hunt.

The solution, if you can't get into different fields on a regular basis, is to do everything you can to change the feel of the place the dog finds so familiar. Introduce unusual scents in different places, approach the field from a different angle or entrance once in a while, or even watch the weather for an opportunity to work the dog when the prevailing winds are doing something they don't normally do. Mix it up, change the scenario, introduce some new cover or objectives - anything to break up the routine so that your dog doesn't get lazy about working that ground.

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