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Bird Dog cover Bird Dog: The Instinctive Training Method
by Ben O. Williams

As long as there are bird dogs, there will be books about training them. It seems everyone's got a new system or better technique to get your dog trained faster or to some higher degree of perfection, yet for the most part they are like diet books. People keep buying them because they fail to heed the advice of the one they bought yesterday. Usually something doesn't go exactly as the book says and the entire regimen falls apart, ending in frustration on the part of both owner and dog with the owner looking for another solution. Ben O. Williams' book Bird Dog is a surprising relief from the stacks of step-by-step training manuals.

A well-chronicled wingshooting author and photographer, Williams is always associated with his troop of charismatic Brittanies. His approach to training and hunting these dogs is deceptively simple and is rooted in a trait common to nearly any dog of any breed: the desire to please. Williams takes a less forceful course with his dogs; instead of repetitively hammering commands into their heads, he places them in situations with all of the necessary elements for say, pointing or backing, and lets genetics take over. He makes no bones about the importance of good bloodlines, saying that selection of a bird dog from bad stock "can't be fixed, no matter how good the trainer is."

The one complaint you'll hear about Williams' method is that it works great if you have access to as many wild birds as he does, but who has access to that many wild birds? Those who say this have missed the message altogether. While he does work his dogs on wild birds - and who wouldn't if he had access to them? - his methods are about how an owner relates to a dog. He approaches the hunter-dog relationship as a partnership, where his dogs are companions, not just tools for finding birds. In this world of electronic collars and forceful methods, his book is long overdue.




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