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Contact information
For information on the dog training and trialing, contact:
Jaqi Christopher
Assistant upland ecologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
608-261-8458

Bird dog training

bird dog

Captive ducks used for dog training are usually missing one hind toe or tattooed. Many dog trainers may also release ducks with brightly colored tape on their wings for identification.

A bird dog training license allows you to purchase, possess, release into the wild, hunt and use approved captive reared species for dog training purposes only. These species include captive-bred bobwhite and other species of quail of the subfamily odontophorinae, gray partridge, chukar partridge, red-legged partridge, mallard duck, ring-necked and reeves pheasants.

Individuals issued a bird dog training license are subject to the following requirements:

  • Captive wild bird identification:
    • All bobwhite quail, pheasants and gray partridge used for dog training to be released and killed under the authority of a dog training license shall, prior to release, be tagged around the leg with a bird dog training leg band supplied by the DNR.
    • Captive mallards used for dog training shall be identified by one of the following methods prior to six weeks of age:
      • removal of the hind toe from the right foot; or
      • tattooing of a readily discernible number or letter combination thereof on the web of one foot; or
      • banding of on metatarsus with a seamless metal band; or
      • pinioning of a wing by removal of the metacarpal bones of one wing or a portion of the metacarpal bones which renders the bird permanently incapable of flight.
  • The licensee and persons assisting them may not have on their persons while engaged in dog training any unused department dog training bird bands. Wild birds and birds that are not banded or identified as required above may not be killed during training exercises.
  • See section on Care and Treatment of Birds and Animals in the Wisconsin Bird Dog & Dog Club Training Regulations [PDF] and the Captive Wildlife Pen Specifications & Transportation Standards [PDF].

Bird dog training on free-roaming wild animals

Except as described below, any person may train bird dogs on free-roaming wild animals without a dog training license.

Exceptions:

  • All dogs must be kept on a leash during the nesting season (April 15-July 31) on all DNR public hunting lands with the exception of Class I dog training grounds.
  • No person engaged in training dogs may kill or cause to be killed any free-roaming wild animal including unprotected wild animals without department approval.

Regulations and applications

Questions you may have

Do I need a dog training license to train with pigeons?
Yes, but only if you are using a firearm on certain department properties including Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Sauk, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago counties where special firearms restrictions apply. Pigeons are not one of the listed captive birds requiring a dog training license. Pigeons are unprotected and not treated as a wild animal in Wisconsin. They can be hunted or used for training year-round with no daily bag limits or possession limits. The department considers and treats pigeons as a "domestic species". However, if you are training dogs with and releasing live pigeons on any DNR lands open for dog training, prior written authorization is required; which may be in the form of a dog training license.

Do I need a dog training license to train with dead game birds?
Yes, but only if you are using a firearm on certain department properties including Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Sauk, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago counties where special firearms restrictions apply. Dog training licenses are required when using live captive animals. However, it is a good idea to avoid using recently killed birds so that they won't be mistaken for illegally hunted game birds in your possession. You may want to use a wing or thawed game bird carcass that was not recently killed to avoid any confusion.

If I have a dog training license and have someone else train with or assist me, do they need a dog training license also?
A license is not needed to accompany or observe dog training activities, to assist in handling the dogs during dog training activities, or to handle dead birds killed by a licensed dog trainer. Each person who participates in bird dog training by handling or shooting the listed captive wild game-birds must have their own individual bird dog training license, or be a member of a club that holds a dog club training license. "Participation" includes purchasing, possessing, releasing, and/or shooting at live captive wild animals for dog training purposes.

Is there a closed season for dog training?
The typical season for training is August 1- April 14. From April 15-July 31, there are restrictions on when and where dog training is allowed. Check the Dog Training Permit Chart [PDF] to determine if you need a permit to participate in dog training and trialing activities.

  • Training with captive birds is allowed year-round throughout the state on public land open to dog training and private land with permission.
  • Training on free ranging animals is open year round outside of the Northern Restricted Area on public land open to dog training and private land with permission.
  • Training on free ranging wild rabbits and raccoons is open year round throughout the state on public land open to dog training and private land with permission.
  • Training on free ranging wild animals, other than rabbits and raccoons, in the Northern Restricted Area is closed May 1-June 30.
Last revised: Tuesday July 25 2017