Through-out my years of breeding cattle, herding dogs and bird dogs, I have had the opportunity to observe what makes a successful breeding program. My work with ranchers and other successful breeders has taught me the importance of ensuring K Nine’s program breeds dogs based on their desirable traits, rather than just breeding based on pedigree. My involvement with both breeding and training has allowed me to identify and develop a dog’s hard- and soft-wired traits. The hard-wired traits are those that animals get from their genetic parents, even when raised by surrogates. The soft-wired traits come from such sources as environment, interaction and training. The goal of the Head Start Program is to develop these puppy traits into confident, bold bird finders that have a major advantage as their minds, bodies and skills progress.
The program begins as soon as the pups are whelped. At five weeks, they get the necessary vaccinations to get out in the field. Initially, they are taught limitations and restriction. They start with little collars and progress to a puppy chain gang. Once they settle down and accept these elements, we start going on little walks. These walks are critical in that the pups always find a bird. It may be a dead quail to pick up and carry or live bird to point, but there is always something for the pups to find. We use this to create an expectation of finding a bird every time the pup hits the field.
The pup in this video has been exposed to the field at least once, usually twice, per week since 5 weeks old. In it, one can see how the exposure has unlocked her birdiness and drive to hunt. The entire goal of the Head Start program is to allow the pups to get in touch with the talents and gifts God has given and put to use in later training.