2023 Bird Dog Instinct Clinics

MSDA will hold Bird Instinct Clinics on Friday March 3rd, Saturday March 4th, and Sunday March 5th during the MSDA “Spring Event” at the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Rd, West Friendship, MD 21794). For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this is a great way to get started.

This is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. The clinic consists of individual work with each dog and handler. Each dog gets 10-15 minutes in the field, ending with a bird contact (e.g., flush, point, retrieve). Trainers get the dogs excited about the birds, and then the dogs are able to scent and find a bird, triggering their basic hunting instincts. Clinics are run by AKC hunt test judges and experienced handlers for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. There is lots of fun, and great information, too!

Instinct Clinic is a wonderful stepping stone for you and your dog to get involved with training for your parent club’s WD or WC program or for the AKC Hunt Test programs, or to simply see how much fun you can have when your dog gets turned on to birds!!

All potential bird dogs are welcome. Your dog does not have to be entered in the MSDA dog show or obedience/rally trials at Spring Event to participate in the Instinct Clinic.

Trainers will be available to work with dogs from 11 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 4 pm each of the three days. There is no pre-registration for the Instinct Clinics. Just come out to the field and sign up when you’re ready for some fun – it’s first come, first served. The number of dogs we can handle is limited, however. Usually Saturday and Sunday afternoons are the busiest times, so aim for Friday or the mornings if you can.

The clinic fee is $20 per dog – cash or check, payable when you sign in at the field. Payment by credit card is also an option, with an additional $1 fee. Also, Spring Event parking at the Fairgrounds is $5 per vehicle.

For Instinct Clinic, your dog needs a collar and leash (not just a slip lead) . Optionally, spaniels and retrievers may want to bring a favorite retrieving toy to get started. We’ll provide a very long lead and all other supplies. Dogs are never off-leash during these sessions.

Live birds are used. There is no gunfire; flushed birds fly away.

The Instinct Clinics are held outside, so please dress for outdoor fun! They will be in a grassy field less than 500 feet west of the main (conformation) building, near the fairgrounds’ horse ring. A map is below. Once on the fairgrounds property, when you are facing the main hall and annex, turn right (west) and follow the driveway past the line of trees. Then look to the left and you will see a collection of cars, a pop-up tent, tables, etc. in the distance. There will be some parking available up near the horse ring. Please don’t drive or try to park in low-lying areas — cars have gotten stuck in the mud down there.

Note that the ground is covered in grass, dirt and (some) straw, so you may not want to run your dog in an Instinct Clinic and then go directly to the conformation ring.

One or more sessions could be rescheduled or cancelled in case of severe weather. If so, updated information will be posted here on this web page, the home page of the MSDA website, and also will be shared via MSDA’s private Facebook Group.

For more information and lots of photos, see our Instinct Clinic page for 2022. A few very short Instinct Clinic videos are on MSDA’s YouTube channel. MSDA member Deb Kirk also offers a longer introductory training video that includes a lot of photos and extensive video from MSDA Instinct Clinics.

Questions? Please contact Steve Roth at huntingchair@mdsportingdog.org.

And, if you and your dog have fun at the Instinct Clinic, consider attending MSDA’s annual Field Day for an introduction to field training your bird dog. Field Day will most likely be scheduled for a Saturday in April. The exact date and much more information will be provided after the first of the year.