My First Bird Dog - Make Retrieving an Addiction

While puppies are cute and naturally fun, any pheasant hunter has an eye to the future when that dog is ready for more rigorous work in the field. Not to mention housebroken.
 
While “Sprig,” my now 3-month-old English cocker pup, has been getting healthy doses of basic obedience and plenty of play time, I’ve been looking for signs that I’ll have a legitimate hunting dog on my hands. I like her energy, willingness to explore new environments and a nose that’s constantly “on.” When I picked her up, the breeder – who also trains, trials and hunts extensively – gave me one piece of advice that I’ve held above all else: “Make retrieving an addiction.”
 
Starting with a glove in the apartment and graduating to a tennis ball, Sprig has shown natural retrieving instincts and, most importantly, seems to enjoy it. Next we’ll move outside with a dummy and, since it’s been an unseasonably warm winter in the upper Midwest, some light grass.
 
What did you see in your pup early on that got you excited about your future hunting buddy?
 
Previous “My First Bird Dog” posts:
 
Puppies: What the Training Manuals Don’t Say
Introducing “My First Bird Dog”
What I’m Looking For
Gun Dog Experts’ #1 Piece of Advice
Just Show Me the DOGFAX
Why Attend a Hunt Test or Field Trial?
What Was Your First Bird Dog?
Stuck Between Two Litters
Rationalizing the Sticker Shock
Best Bird Dogs for an Apartment
When everyone’s a Dog Expert
Meet My First Bird Dog!
 
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.