Dove shooting can be a fun outdoor exercise and even more fun if you have a well-trained dog. This guide will help you learn How To Train A Dog To Dove Hunt, whether you’re new to shooting or want to improve your dog’s skills.

In this guide, I’ll talk about why training your dog to hunt doves is a good idea, the fundamental directions your dog should know, and the unique ways to make them a good hunting partner. And I’ll teach them everything, from how to use their sense of smell to how to catch birds gently. It also discusses safety, tips for good hunts, and the right dog breed for shooting.

This guide will help you get the most out of dove shooting, whether you’re just starting or want to improve your dog’s skills. So get ready, bring your loyal dog, and train them to enhance your dove shooting trips.

Why Train A Dog To Dove Hunt?

Training a dog to hunt doves is essential for the shooter and the hunt in several ways. People choose to train their dogs to catch doves for the following reasons:

Retrieval Skills

Hunters don’t have to spend time and energy looking for falling doves in thick brush or tall grass because they can train their dogs to find them. One of the most essential skills that hunting dogs learn is retrieval, which makes the hunt faster.


Dogs have a strong sense of smell and can find birds that a hunter might not be able to see. This makes finding and catching the game easier, making the hunt more successful overall.


A well-trained hunting dog can make it easier to hunt safely. They can let their owners know when other hunts or possible dangers are nearby, which adds an extra layer of safety to the game.


With a well-trained hunting dog, you’re less likely to lose hurt birds that would otherwise go to waste. This helps hunters kill animals responsibly. It also helps with conservation efforts by reducing injured birds.


Hunters can learn and have fun when they go hunting with their dogs. It makes the owner and the dog closer to working together outside the hunt.


In many ways of hunting, dogs have been essential. Training a dog to catch doves is one way to keep these time-honored customs alive and pass them on to the next generation.


Dove hunting with a well-trained dog can be a fun way to spend time outside, connect with nature, and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.


Doves are small, fast-moving birds that can be hard to find and catch without a dog. Training a dog to hunt doves makes the process easier and the hunt more likely to succeed.

How To Train A Dog To Dove Hunt: The Main 3 Methods

You must teach a dog to hunt doves in different ways and orders. Here, we’ll discuss the three most important ways to train for dove shooting.

Start With Basic Training Commands

Before teaching your dog how to hunt doves, it’s essential to establish a strong foundation in basic obedience training. It’s important to follow these instructions to control your dog while hunting.


It’s important to teach your dog to sit in order. It helps keep discipline and order on the field. Start with short practices and build up to longer ones over time.


The “stay” order is significant if you want your dog to stay in one place until you tell them to move on. With this order, your dog will only go after doves soon or get in the way of other shooters.


When hunting doves, it’s essential to have a good memory. Even if he is very excited, your dog must come when you call him. To learn this order, you need to practice it often.


The “heel” order tells your dog to walk beside you. This is especially important when you are hunting and have to move through fields or thick brush.

Train a Dog for Dove Hunting with Specific Commands

Training dogs to catch doves requires specific orders and exercises to make sure they work well and stay safe in the field. Here are the most essential rules, training drills, and safety measures for teaching a dog to catch doves:


A shooting dog must know the “fetch” word to get fallen doves. Follow these steps to teach your dog to fetch:

  • Start with a soft fake you can retrieve or a dove wing tied to a figure.
  • Use positive feedback like treats or praise when your dog comes back to you.
  • Gradually exposing the dog to the smell of doves will help it connect the order with retrieving doves.


Saying “Mark” is a way to tell your dog to remember where a dove fell. To show how to do this:

  • Let your dog watch a dove fall while you train it, and then say “mark” while pointing toward the bird.
  • Tell your dog to go to the marked spot and get the dove.


The “steady” order tells your dog to stay still and calm until you tell it to go get something. This keeps your dog from breaking too soon and going after birds. To teach this order:

  • Use a leash or long lead to stay in charge during training sessions.
  • Practice telling your dog to “sit” and “stay” while gradually adding distractions like bird calls.
  • Reward your dog for staying still until you tell it to get something.

Exercises for training

Scent instruction

Put dove wings or feathers in your dog’s training area to get him used to the smell of doves. Give them something for being curious about the scent.

Practice retrieving

Use dummy birds to practice retrieving regularly, gradually increasing the distance and difficulty. Use the “fetch” and “mark” commands during these tasks.

Simulated Hunts

Recreate shooting situations in safe places. This includes practicing “steady” orders while your dog watches decoys or catches fake birds.

Training Your Dog to Be Steady

  • Consistency is important. During training, you should always stress the “steady” order.
  • Step by step, add more distractions to make it feel like a real hunt.
  • Use treats and praise to show your dog how happy you are that they are staying still.
  • Don’t rush. To train a dog to be steady, you must do it repeatedly.

Precautions for Safety

Gun Safety

Always put safety first when it comes to guns. Don’t load a gun until you’re ready to shoot; never point it at anyone, even your dog.

Protective Gear

You might use a dog collar or other protective gear to keep your dog safe from the thorns, briars, and other dangers in the field.

Heat and Hydration

Ensure your dog has access to clean water and takes breaks often, especially when it’s hot, to keep him from getting too tired.

Pay attention to local rules.

Follow all shooting rules and rules about hunting with dogs in your area. This means getting the necessary permits and sticking to bag limits.


Check your dog often for ticks and other bugs. And ensure they are up-to-date on their shots to keep them healthy and happy during shooting seasons.

Tips for a Successful Dove Hunting Trip at a Higher Level

Consider these advanced tips and techniques for training your dog if you want to take your dove shooting to the next level.

Developing a Keen Sense of Smell

Let your dog smell doves often to learn to find them by smell. Play games with them to teach them how to use scent to find doves. Use a variety of fragrances so that they don’t get too used to one. If you do this repeatedly, your dog will get better at helping you hunt birds.

Retrieving Skills for Downed Doves

Your dog needs to be able to bring back birds that you shoot down. To show this,

  1. Work on things with them.
  2. Make it more challenging by making them find it in water or thick bushes.
  3. Like in actual shooting, you can change how far they have to go and from which way.

Training for Patience and Discipline in the Field

During the hunt, your dog needs to stay calm and wait for you to tell it what to do. Teach them to stay still even if there are fake birds, other shooters, or bird sounds around to confuse them. Make them wait longer and longer over time so they don’t get upset.

Teaching the “Hold” Command for Delicate Retrieval

Teach your dog how to pick up and carry birds without hurting them. Start with stuffed animals and then move on to real doves or fake birds. Give them treats when they do it gently to show them they’re doing it right.

Training for Scent Detection of Doves

Help your dog learn to find doves by smelling them. Put dove smells in different places and let your dog find them by following the scent. Make it more complicated each time, and they’ll improve.

Fine-Tuning Your Dog’s Skills

Continue to train and work with your dog. Try doing it in different places and weather to get better at shooting. You can also ask people with more knowledge or participate in dog shooting events to help them improve.

Pre-Hunt Conditioning

Give your dog enough exercise and good food to keep them fit. So, they’ll have enough energy for long hunts and will only get tired slowly.

Safety Precautions

Be careful when hunting with your dog at all times. Especially when you’re using guns, keep them under control. Put on earplugs and glasses to keep yourself and your dog safe.

Post-Hunt Care

After you go shooting, take care of your dog. Check for any bruises and make them comfortable. Tell them they did well by praising them and giving them treats. This will make them happy and eager to go hunting again.

I have discussed another post: Effective Puppy Crate Training Schedule

Benefits of Having a Trained Dove Hunting Dog

Having a trained dove-hunting dog can help you in many ways and make your dove-hunting experience much better. Here are a few of the main pros:

Better Efficiency When Retrieving

A trained dove-hunting dog can quickly and easily get downed doves, saving you time and effort as you look for and collect the game. Their ability to find things can help you get a lot more food.

Better Smell Detection

Dogs have a good sense of smell, which helps them find doves that are hiding in thick brush or tall grass. This skill makes it easier to find birds that have fallen.

More Success In Hunting

A dog that can find scents and bring back things can help you hunt better. They can discover doves you might have missed and return them to you.


Well-trained dogs for shooting doves can help make hunting safer. They can let you know when other shooters, possible dangers, or dangerous situations are nearby. This makes your trips even safer.

Save The Planet

A trained dog makes it less likely that hurt doves will get lost so fewer birds will be wasted. This helps conservation efforts by aligning with responsible shooting practices. It also reduces the chance of leaving behind injured birds.

Being Together

It can be fun and educational to go hunting with a dog. It helps you bond with your dog and enjoy outdoor activities together.

FAQs On Train A Dog To Dove Hunt

How Long Does Teaching A Dog How To Hunt For Birds Take?

How long it takes to train a dog to hunt birds varies. Basic training might take a few months, while more advanced (taking) training could take a year or more. It goes on what kind of dog it is, how old it is, and how much exercise it needs. Remember that even after training, practice is still essential.

How Do I Get My Dog Ready For A Bird Hunt?

Make sure your dog knows simple instructions like “sit” and “stay” before you go bird shooting with them. Train them to see how the birds you want to hunt smell. When you’re ready to hunt, visit a good place and let your dog look for birds. Use words like “hunt” and “rescue” in your orders. Always follow safety rules and shooting laws, and treat your dog when it does well.

What Kind Of Dog Makes The Best Dove Hunter?

Labrador Retrievers, English Setters, Pointers, and German Shorthaired Pointers are excellent dogs for catching doves. The best breed depends on what you like and where you want to hunt. The most important thing is that your dog is well-trained and fits the shooting you want to do.

Is It Hard To Train A Bird Dog?

It can be hard to train a bird dog, especially if you have never done it before. But you can do it if you are patient and work at it. How hard it is depends on what kind of dog you have, how old it is, and what you want it to learn. Understanding advanced skills like finding and recovering smells is generally easier than basic skills. Many people find teaching their dogs fun and help them bond with them. If you need help, you can always ask an expert teacher.

The Last Word

Training your dog to be a good hunting partner for doves is a fun adventure that can make your hunting trips even better. Remembering that the keys to success are being patient and practicing often is essential.

Start with simple directions like “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come,” and “Heel” to give your dog a solid training base. Then, teach them more specific orders like “Fetch,” “Mark,” and “Steady” to teach them how to hunt birds well.

Remember to train your dog with drills to improve their sense of smell, catch birds, and learn the “hold” command. Always think about your and your dog’s safety when you shoot.

On your trip, you can also use our advanced tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and tips on choosing the right dog breed. Whether you’re just starting or want to get better, remember that teaching your dog to hunt doves is more than just hunting. It’s about building a solid relationship with your dog and enjoying the woods together.

So, be patient, keep practicing, and prepare for exciting dove-hunting trips with your loyal friend. You’ll make beautiful memories and have great shooting experiences with proper training and hard work. Good luck hunting!