It is a well known fact that good flying birds, and lots of them, make up a big part of training a good bird dog. After all - half the name, and the top billing first half at that is "Bird".
We make the trek to South Dakota every year for that very reason. Working wild birds in natural habitat is a fantastic way to get young dogs started, but the reality is - we can't always do that even ourselves and the average Joe or Judy out training their pup on weekends has even less chance. So what to do?
We have worked with remote release launchers for literally decades. Thousands of birds have been put through these mechanisms and with that experience we have noticed a few things.
1. Proper introduction. It is a clunky, noisy hunk of metal. Be careful the first few times you use them with a new dog especially, and every time after. A dog jumping in on a launcher just as it springs open can hit the dog and cause all kinds of issues, generally associated with birds and that is not what we want.
2. Timing is everything. We start with checkcording and move to a dragging cord when working launchers. We always want to have a "failsafe" if the launcher doesn't fire the bird, and it does happen!
3. Simulate a wild bird. When pup is on point and decides to move just a liiiiittttle bit closer, launch the bird. Nobody likes the points of a dog with his nose straight down hovering over a bird. By launching at the first step, you get a dog that starts working like little Ruby in the video. No whoa training, no heavy hands, just birds and a little direction. And more birds.