Puppies. Who doesn't love puppies? Yet many people dread the puppy phase of their dog's life. When I read and hear about people whose puppies are terrors in the house, biting hands with their sharp teeth, chewing on woodwork and furniture, jumping on people, bolting out the door when someone comes in I can understand why they don't love puppies. It doesn't have to be that way.
Start with the genetics of the puppy. Chose a breeding that offers the "livability" that you want for yourself. Actually witness adult dogs from the breeder living in a similar environment. If your bird dog is going to double as a house pet I strongly recommend you spend some time in a home where one or more of that breeding lives. Each of us has very different home situations, energies and stimuli and what one person considers good and acceptable may not be for you or me.
Once that well chosen puppy is home it is still up to you to "civilize" it, that is, shape it into the dog that you imagined living with in the first place. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of setting boundaries with puppies starting the day that you bring them home. Limits. Restrictions and understandings. For example, from the beginning, my own dogs learn the following: No, you do not go through any door or gate unless I tell you to. No, you do not jump on people or nip hands. No, you do not get up on the sofa. No, you do not scratch the door when you want out. No, do not put your paws on the counter. You will spend quiet time in your crate or kennel. You will respect fences and not try to escape. You will sleep in until I get up.
These are all very reasonable expectations that I set for my own dogs: each home will have it's own. I joke that my dogs are miscreants because I do not teach many of the usual pet commands such as sit or lie down. But from puppyhood my Firelight crew is taught my limits and boundaries which is how I can have a half-dozen bird dogs that double as house pets yet maintain a fairly normal looking home. Boundaries make for a more pleasant pet experience as well as help with building the foundation for the desired partnership in the field.
My most recent miscreant pupil, Firelight Cool Hand Luke