Train your hunting dog with trainer John Staley at the Big Sky Kennels Ranch.  

We can assist you in bringing out your dog's natural hunting instincts to fully maximize its hunting and obedience abilities.  We will work with you to determine your dog's needs and cater to your schedule.  Whether you would like a few hours of training, a full day of training, or a week or training on the Ranch with your hunting dog, we can accommodate you.  Contact us to request a quote. 


Bring out the desire to hunt first

We believe that a pups desire to hunt should be brought out prior to them being subjected to serious discipline.  At the same time, the bond between the pup and handler is accomplished, again prior to disciplinary obedience applications, usually 5 -6 months of age.  Concurrently with the retrieving process, the pups begins to walk the field or woodland where they gain confidence and learn to use their nose to find exciting things like frogs, song birds, etc. Next birds are introduced on the walks by first planing ahead of the walk  the least stimulating , frozen pigeons then escalating up to actual live game as they b ring each properly.  During this period, through a process of positive reinforcement, they learn to respond to hand signals.  They naturally learn to stay close to the handler by gaining a bond, learning the handler is the source that helps them find the game they enjoy. 

Gun Introduction

By all means introduce the sound of the gun the correct way and avoid creating gun shynes.  There are a number of methods but the one we use involves the use of an experiinced hunting dog. With the experienced dog, toss a frozen bird several times and let the pup compete for the retreive. Then leash up the pup and walk out 50 years or so and throw the bird and shoot a blank gun that shoot crimp blanks.  Let the older dog make the retreive.  Continue the routine moving closer to the pup each time as long the student keep their ears are up.  Repeat the routine with higher gauges of guns going to a 410, 12 with a trap lead, etc.  Finally, return to the field and shoot a flying bird that the pup flushes on their own.

Obedience, then back to the field
Once they are introduced to the gun and learn to return dead game, the obedience process begins.  After a month or so of “yard” obedience the pup returns to the field to learn obedience commands there as well and to become a partner with the hunter.  The end result, the hunter can go for a hunt for upland birds and approach the most likely haunts without saying or whistling to the pup. This enables them to slip up on game and get great shots, or in the situation of a slew, the pup stays quiet until the ducks swing in and enables the hunter to get quality shots.


Contact us for Started Gun Dog in Fargo or Grand Forks for Big Sky Kennels hunting dog training today!

Training METHODS AT THE Ranch 

Big Sky Kennels can adapt methods to accommodate clients that may want a more advanced training level, in which the pup learns to find birds through hand and whistle signals to find birds that have fell out of sight.  The hunter does not have to walk to the basic fall of the bird or slog through the slew.  Simply give the dog a hand signal in the direction of the bird fall, they run or swim in the direction given using their scenting and listening capabilities to find the hidden bird.


The value of the ranch and the availilbiity of game birds (be they pheasants, quail or duck) can not be underestimated.  From starting the pup to preparing a gun dog to actually begin hunting a field or slough under control and in full partnership with the handler can be done on the ranch.   We are able to teach desired behavior of the dog in actual  hunting situations by setting up drills involving birds and habitat "sets" that influence the student to respond according to desired  behavior.  Repetition, firmness and consistency is applied after that.


Customers who have had their dogs trained by Big Sky Kennels, or have purchased dogs through Big Sky Kennels are welcome to return to the training ranch for refreshment of training drills.