We frequently discuss the term Bird Placement.  I have asked many people what qualities they like to see in an exceptional judge.  Many answers were given but the top 3 were 1. Fair 2. Experience in training and running dogs. 3.  Knowledge of Bird Placement.

There is no definition of Bird Placement in the dictionary so as usual I will make one up.  Bird Placement is the art form of throwing or placing a bird in a location where the dog does not want to go or the dog does not want to stay in and hunt.

There are many factors that enter into this equation.  We will give some examples but I am sure you could come up with many more that you have seen through the years.

If you go to Blog 5 on Marking we list many of the factors that influence marking.  All of these factors enter into Bird Placement.   Let’s discuss some of the prime examples of factors influencing Bird Placement.

The number one factor is WIND.  The direction of the wind can make the difference between a giveaway bird or one that gives even a great marking dog difficulty.

The photo below is an excellent example of the effect of wind on the performance of a dog.

M2 was thrown first as a single.

The next single M1, the thrower “T” throws the bird with the wind to the right and remains standing and highly visible.  If the dog goes toward the gunner (T), he will end up on the land with the bird downwind and water in between.  Of the 10 dogs we ran, the dogs that went to the thrower “T” not one found the bird.  They refused to cross the water and go downwind to M1.  Let’s reverse the situation.  Let’s throw from M1 to the original thrower position “T”.  Every dog would nail it because they would be downwind of the bird and easily find it.

The next 2 factors that influence Bird Placement are cover and obstacles.  The photo below demonstrates how these factors will affect the line the dog chooses to take.

Examine M1, the first bird thrown of a double.  The dog would pick up M2 first with no problem.  Now when he is sent for the bird on the right M1, every dog would not enter the cover but run down the road to the right.

Let’s now explore something not so obvious to the novice and that is the effect of the positions of the gunning stations.  Examine the gunning stations in the photo below.

The first step was to run the blind.  The next step was to run the triple.  The Flyer was the first bird picked up.  The left bird {2} was the next bird retrieved.  Every dog that was sent for the middle bird {1} would go to the left of the throwing station and towards the Blind.  The reason, the dogs did not want to go near the gunning station {3}. Again to make it clear the gunners were at the number 3 and the Flyer was thrown to the right.  So the position of the gunning stations can have a profound effect on how dogs run a test regarding Bird Placement.

Happy Training
John Schulte