Northwind Grouse Dog Training
Our Dog Training Camp is Located in the Northwoods of WI
We offer a unique dog training experience only found in the heart of northern Wisconsin’s Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock habitat. Our dog training camp (we call the Camp), is located in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin, 40 miles south of Lake Superior, off the grid and well off the beaten path. We are surrounded by a million plus acres of national, state, and county forest, as well thousands of acres of paper company land. We conduct guided grouse hunts during the fall season in this area so we know where to find wild birds during our training sessions.
During the summer, when the grouse are raising their chicks, we supplement our training with Bobwhite quail which have been released in the woods with our dog training Camp. We continually expose our "students" to working birds in the woods throughout their training sessions. Within the boundaries of our Camp we have numerous trails, meadows, bogs, and areas of dense habitat which allows us to run our dogs off lead even while restrictions are in effect on public lands. We also have resident grouse on our property so besides the quail we typically come across grouse during the training session.
If you want to expose your dog to more grouse and woodcock than they will see most anywhere else in the U.S, our Camp is where you want to send him/her to be trained. We accept all breeds and ages from 4 months on up. Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. We work with client dog’s alongside our own seasoned guide dogs and our started guide dogs destined to become part of our guide dog team. This allows a dog to sharpen their skill with seasoned grouse dogs while also being exposed to wild birds. To develop a good grouse dog it takes wild birds. No other bird that you will hunt will be as difficult to locate, as hard to work, or to shoot as a Ruffed Grouse.
As professional guides we know the area and how to work grouse and woodcock. The pre-season research we do not only ensures our guided hunts are successful, but ensures our dogs are ready for the season with the pre-season scouting we put them through. We have a unique opportunity to put our client dogs on wild birds during pre-season training the same as we do for our own dogs. Each spring we do our own drumming counts of areas we intend to hunt in the fall. This helps us determine the concentrations of male drummers and the possible locations of hens in the late fall.
Knowing where the male grouse are located gives us the opportunity in late summer to also work client dogs on known bird locations. In August, after the restrictions on public lands are lifted, we travel throughout the area looking for coveys. Our dogs, as well as our client dogs, work in the mornings and evenings when it is cool. We work with our client dogs to develop their ability to hold point, to honor another dog’s point, and to be steady to flush. Typically client dogs are paired with a seasoned grouse guide dog and they learn to work in a brace. The young dog typically learns very quickly having a seasoned dog to learn from.
Appropriate yard work, as needed, is included in our training program. For the dogs with little or no previous encounter with birds, we work them on "put" quail in our woodland meadows and then advance them to quail in the woods, simulating a hunt. Once a dog has shown themselves proficient on working "planted" birds in the woods they will move on to working grouse and woodcock.
Conditioning a grouse dog to be ready for the first day of hunting season is a big part of what we do. Dogs are no different than people; they need to be physically prepared for what they are asked to do and rewarded accordingly.
Those of you who have hunted here in the Northwoods know that to find birds you must get off the trail and into the clear cuts, tag alder edges, near bogs, under conifers, etc. and your dog must work close in these conditions. The experience a young dog gains in working wild birds in the environment we can provide is key. Working on liberated or pen raised birds is good, but being trained on the real thing is even better.
Here are some of our beliefs about dogs and how best to train them:
We believe no two dogs are alike and that here is no "cookbook" or "one size fits all" approach to training.
All dogs are inherently smart and should be treated with kindness and positive reinforcement.
We believe that given the opportunity and support most dogs can develop into a good hunting partner.
A dog will develop correct behaviors when rewarded with positive outcomes and avoid inappropriate behaviors when provided consistent direction over time.
Dogs have feelings and respond best to direction that is followed with sincere verbal praise and loving tactile rewards that are given consistently.
A hunting dog must have the opportunity to work in the environment of the birds they hunt. It takes working grouse to develop into a true grouse dog.
When working with a puppy, he/she is a clean slate. You are responsible for what he/she does or does not learn
and for any undesirable behaviors it develops.
When gun breaking a dog there is no fixed schedule or time frame. Introduction to the gun depends on the dog's maturity, the exposure to birds it has had, and proceeding with full attention paid to the dog's body language. Making a mistake by introducing the gun too soon or inappropriately is a set-back that can take a good deal of time and effort to correct. We believe gun breaking is best left to a professional trainer.
When it comes to hunting, the performance of your dog reflects the training you have done. It also reflects how good you are as a handler, your ability to read the cover and understanding the true hunting partnership between you and your dog is just as critical as having a trained grouse dog.