Not 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
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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