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Dog Training and Trialing

Dog training has deep roots in hunting and conservation culture. In order to develop dogs that can reliably hunt and recover game, it is vital to train with a variety of game under varying conditions. It is important that dog trainers and clubs know the rules concerning use of game during training to both support wildlife conservation and stay out of trouble with the law. Many state and federal laws and regulations apply to the importation, possession, use and disposal of game used in training and field events. These rules serve two general purposes: to protect the health and welfare of native wildlife populations in Iowa, and to ensure that hunting regulations are enforceable.

Dog training refers to any teaching or exercising activity involving sporting dogs in which the primary purpose is to enhance performance. Sporting dogs are utilized for hunting game birds and game mammals and include breeds as pointers, setters, retrievers and hounds.

Regulations governing the training of sporting dogs vary according to what species the dogs are being trained with and where the training takes place.


Before any pen-raised bird is released or used in the training of dogs, the bird must be banded with a band from the Iowa DNR.

Pliers or a band applicator can be used to apply bird bands. We encourage you to be consistent by banding the same foot on all birds (left or right). Put the band on the bird so it is upright and the numbers are easy to read.

When you are banding your birds, ensure that you butt the band edges up together and evenly. Do not overlap or misalign the band which may cause unnecessary discomfort or injury to the bird.

All pen-raised birds must be banded before being released or used in the training of any dog.

Yes, as long as band is in good enough condition to stay on the bird, they can be re-used.

Bird bands are sold in increments of 10 bands for $1.00. Contact the DNR at 515-725-8200 to place your order by phone. We accept Visa, Mastercard or Discover.

Band sizes available: Quail, Pigeon (also used for Chukar), Pheasant (also used for Duck)

Pen-raised game birds of either sex may be used and shot in the training of bird dogs. Birds must be purchased from a certified game breeder and purchasing paperwork must be on your person while training to show that the birds were lawfully purchased. All pen-raised game birds used in dog training must be banded.

In general, all hunters need a valid hunting license and habitat fee to train a bird dog on wild and pen-raised game birds. An Iowa Migratory Bird Fee and Federal Waterfowl Stamp are required if using pen-raised waterfowl.

If you have a dog entered in a licensed field trial, you do not need any type of Hunting License to participate in the event or to exercise your dog on the area on which the field trial is to be held during the 24-hour period preceding the trial. See the section titled "Dog Restrictions" in the current hunting regulations booklet. If you are dog training on your own private land, you do not need a hunting license nor habitat fee.

A dog can be trained year round, with the following restrictions:

No dogs are allowed on all state-owned game management areas between March 15 and July 15 of each year, except on designated training areas. In addition, only a pistol, revolver, or other gun shooting blanks shall be used while training during the closed season on public ground.

Dog training is allowed on both public and private land.

During the closed season on public ground, only a pistol, revolver, or other gun shooting blanks can be used while training using wild game birds.

During the open season on public and private ground, it is not necessary to use blanks if training dogs on wild game birds.

If using pen-raised birds from a license game breeder for dog training, birds may be shot year-round. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on state-owned wildlife management areas between March 15 and July 15 of each year, except on designated training areas.

Banded, pen-raised birds can be released for dog training on public property. Birds can be planted and retrieved with a call back pen, or planted and shot using live ammunition. If planting banded, pen-raised birds for dog training, keep your purchase receipt with you to show birds used in training have been purchased from a certified game breeder.

No dogs are allowed on all state-owned wildlife management areas between March 15 and July 15 of each year, except on designated training areas.

A special events permit must be obtained from the DNR for field and retriever meets. Field and retriever meets are restricted to designated sites. The permit shall show the exact designated site of the meet and all dogs shall be confined to that site per Iowa Code 481A.22.

Visit the Iowa Special Events website to schedule a field trial event or view scheduled trials on public lands: https://programs.iowadnr.gov/specialevents/

Pen-raised birds used for dog training must be purchased from a licensed game breeder.


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