Nick Ridley answers a question about why birds might be damaged

Question: I think my dog may be hard-mouthed, as occasionally some of the birds she brings back when we are picking up are damaged. Can she be cured of this?

Nick Ridley replies: First of all, don’t be too quick to blame the dog. You need to take into consideration the circumstances in which the bird has been shot. If you are on a high bird shoot and the birds are falling from quite a height and/or if the ground is hard, then the birds can be damaged when they hit the floor. They are travelling at quite a speed and I have seen a pheasant go through a Land Rover windscreen, such was the force. Also, if the birds are landing through trees, damage can also occur due to hitting the branches on the way down. I have heard it said that once a dog is hard-mouthed it cannot be cured, but equally I have heard of some quite ‘unorthodox’ methods people have used. In the first instance I would just try and see if there is a pattern as to which birds are damaged.