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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long story short, we were late and didn't know the trainer was already out in a field. I took my family with me this time and decided to go look around for her. We got introduced to goat's head briars. They are little seeds of death with hypodermic needles sticking out in all directions. I'm an outdoor fan and go on hikes everyday, but I have never encountered these terrible things before. There's no way to pull them out of your socks with your hands as they stick right into your skin. I had to use needlenose pliers that I had in the car.

We decided to just leave at this point missing Ellie's 2nd hunt training which was a big bummer. I got in touch with the trainer (also her breeder) and this time I have her cellphone, know to wear briar resistant pants, and will leave the family home for next time until we're past the goat's head season whenever that is.

Just curious, for the dogs do you do anything for briar protection? We found one on Ellie but it didnt seem to be stuck into her skin. I just can't imagine a dog running and stepping on one either. Curious what to do for protection for her.
 

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poor Ellie, not a good experience and association with birds...

we went to a Navhda training day here in Texas a while ago. It was on an old ranch, turned out to be full of stickers (same as what you described). Bende covers quickly a lot of ground, meaning also he picked up within a 10 minutes potty and warm up session 30+ of these suckers in his paw pad. the poor thing was in so much pain, he could hardly walk afterwards and despite of my best effort to pull them all out, he ended up with a paw infection, vet visit etc.
Needless to say, we don`t go to those events anymore, as much as I like Navhda.

I don`t think there is any method to avoid them in areas where they are spread. But of course would be interested to learn differently.
 

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I never knew the official name, but try to avoid them the like the plague. You can normally remove them with a hair comb.
 

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Ouch!!!!
I'm not quite certain why the trainer would have picked an area like that, possibly all that is really available. To hunt or trial, with experienced dogs, yes, but to train a young dog, I wouldn't have picked an area like that if at all avoidable.
They have made rubberized dog boots for just such condition for many years, but it takes a bit to condition to the dog to actually wear them and run. The first times they wear them they just kind of dance from one foot the other and have their tail tucked. They're pretty unhappy.
What specifically you were you going to be working on with Ellie during this session?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
To be fair I was on the wrong side of the property when looking for the trainer. I’m hoping the other side which she calls the junior field is better. It was a communication failure. Crossing fingers as I’m going back this Saturday. I believe we will be using trained homing pigeons and possible into to a blank gun with them if Ellie is ready. I’m not sure if her farmed quail are ready.
 

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poor Ellie, not a good experience and association with birds...

we went to a Navhda training day here in Texas a while ago. It was on an old ranch, turned out to be full of stickers (same as what you described). Bende covers quickly a lot of ground, meaning also he picked up within a 10 minutes potty and warm up session 30+ of these suckers in his paw pad. the poor thing was in so much pain, he could hardly walk afterwards and despite of my best effort to pull them all out, he ended up with a paw infection, vet visit etc.
Needless to say, we don`t go to those events anymore, as much as I like Navhda.

I don`t think there is any method to avoid them in areas where they are spread. But of course would be interested to learn differently.
A controlled burn would likely kill a lot of them.
Otherwise it would take spraying large sections, with a very strong weed killer. Personally I would prefer the natural way, of setting fire to the field.

Edited to add
Possibly an industrial strength vinegar, could be used instead of a poisonous weed killer.
It would still take a lot of rain after it’s use, to be able to run dogs on that field again.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Was able to get Ellie to her 2nd hunt training session today. I was prepared with fresh newly purchased brush pants. Of course the field we went to didn't have any of those blasted things and wearing them was not necessary, but hey I'll get good use of of them as they are nice for even going through regular brush , etc.

We started on homing pigeons but Ellie is bored of them now as she knows she can't catch them. Then out came the farmed quail. Ellie at first figured "oh its just another pigeon again why chase" as it flew off into some deep brush. After the trainer coaxed her more with another quail, she started getting very excited. Eventually she wound up catching one and having a great time. The trainer tried her blank starter pistol and Ellie was put into her frightened mode. She wasn't afraid as much as she is with the garbage truck, and after some more bird play she snapped out of it. Our next session we're going to step down to a toy cap gun to ease her back up to the blank gun just as insurance to help prevent gun shyness. Overall the trainer said she was doing what she wanted her to do. I have a few quail in the freezer that I'm now supposed to play fetch games with her in the yard as we won't be able to get back out for a few weeks.

Ellie had a 7mos old very sweet female GSP as a training partner. When the birds came out she ran back to the house. They think she picked up some gun shyness and equated the bird with the gun. I can see how this is a very delicate part of the training as having a bird dog being afraid of birds by association is a tough situation if you plan on hunting or competing. They are going to focus on more work to get her excited about birds with the help of other dogs.
 

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I’m not sure who your using for training, and I’m not going to ask. If this happened to the GSP at the trainers. I would not take my dog back there. Dogs that are sensitive to the gun (noise sensitive in general) , take a very special and very experienced in that area trainer. Dogs are not bird shy, unless made bird shy, by intro to the gun in the wrong way. Most of those dogs, will be that way for the rest of their lives.
Trying to match a scared dog, with one that has never been around gunfire (even a blank) is also not something you want to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I spoke with the owner , he said he thinks he “pushed too hard” with his own training attempt and was there trying to see if he could get help fixing it. The trainer didn’t know until we got to the field and the birds came out. Then she separated our dogs , he went off on a walk with his dog , a seasoned dog, and a dead bird to try to get his pups mind off the gun. After that we had a 1:1 session.
 

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That makes a lot more sense now.
 

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I am in the camp of introducing the gun from the distance and after many many bird sessions, when i see the dog having a very good time and could not care less about the gun or in fact any noises. With Ellie going thru that fear sounding phase you have described, i would be just even more careful.
I was visiting a GSP friend of mine this week, we were working with the dogs. His youngest is around 10 months and a very bold female. She has been on birds for several months now. Still while she was on point, i went to the other end of the field and owner flushed the bird, i fired the gun. She could not care less, all she wanted was to chase the bird and that was where we ended the session, to keep the positive memory. Next time the gun will get a bit closer to her and gradually it will be shot by the handler.
 

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My technique for introducing the gun takes close to 2 months. Basically I get the puppies on birds first. Weeks of bird contact. When they are comfortable chasing after birds, I, or someone else, will go 75-100 yards away and fire off a shotgun shell with just the primer installed. I have also used .22 caliber blank pistols inside an oven mitt.
Once I know the puppy is "bird crazy" I will fire the gun in the opposite direction of the puppy and look for the response.
Over the next few weeks I will move progressively closer and start to use .22 banks, or shotgun shells loaded very lightly. Still always shooting in the opposite direction so that the pressure wave is not moving in their direction.
If the response is positive, I will start to move the gun to parallel the puppy. It takes quite a few weeks of moving closer, changing gun angle, increasing load strength.
The "final" sessions are a dummy launcher, fired from about 25 yards away from the puppy in a nice arc that quarters away from them. Get them chasing that dummy and you're set. Now you move progressively closer. with the launcher over the next week or two
I doubt I ever fire a gun directly over their head the first year or two. A shotgun has a range of 40-55 yards, so there really is no need to fire right over them.
Once they get to chasing birds, and the guns go off, you're on your way.
As a measure, I will probably release 6 dozen quail in the first year of training. I'm fortunate that the habitat I have to train can sustain the quail for a week or two until the real predators find them, or it would easily be twice that many.
I like to set out 8-12 quail and let them run around for awhile and bring the dog in. Now there is foot scent for the puppy to follow and those quail will start popping up like Jiffy Pop. Once that starts is pretty much the first time I shoot a bird over the puppy. Half the time while they're running to the bird I shot, another one takes flight and they chase that one.
Go slow!Go real slow.!!It's a game of one step forward and two back if the response is less than positive.
I personally would not have done what the trainer did as you described it. I won't comment right or wrong, but I am not in the "sink or swim camp" with respect to introduction to the gun.
Once again progress slowly. You have her whole life to do this in.

PS
One area that I would openly criticize in the process you detailed, is using a "training partner" that is known to be gun sensitive or gun shy, while introducing your puppy to gun fire. That simply isn't ever going to work. The intro to gun fire is a one dog training session. Not a group.
Being judgemental I would say that the trainer may have been attempting to inspire confidence in the GSP with Ellie's behavior and response. Not a good scenario.
Now then, many people will use older "Steady Eddie, BTDT, dogs "with younger dogs to bridge the process. In this instance, as dogs cue off each others behavioral responses, the younger inexperienced puppy will hopefully gain confidence from the non reactive response of the older dog(s), but this scenario is generally played out only after the puppy has been introduced to gun fire by itself.
It is also a mechanism used to hopefully bridge to a gun sensitive dog, but it will probably very closely follow the method I outlined that I use for initial introduction, but with the gun sensitive puppy/dog, being with a group of non reactive, proven to be not gun sensitive dogs.
 
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Basically I’ve only used two different methods in intro to gunfire. Neither involved real gunfire, so either blanks in a shotgun, or blanks in pistol at a good distance. After I was very comfortable the dog had no sensitivity to the blanks, I would use shells that had less recoil, and not quite as loud as the normal 20 gauge shells.
First one is when the dog is chasing a bird in flight, someone else at a big distance shoots the blank. Your job is to watch the dog for any kind of reaction. Even if the dog shows no reaction to the blank. The next bird pointed, and chased will not involve a blank being fired. This is to see if the dog stops, or keeps chasing. If it stops or shows less gusto on the chase. Then it will only get birds without blanks being fired the next few times. When you do resume the blanks, the gunner needs to be even further away. Always start without gun fire, and end without gun fire. If not done that way, you may find you have a problem the next the time in the field. Plus you always want to end on a positive note.

The second way involves the blank being fired at a great distance, then you throw a bird for them to run out and get. It’s done the same cautious way as the other. And make sure you throw a lot of birds for them to run out and get, before you ever add shooting a blank, and end with throwing a bird without shooting a blank.

keep in mind this is just a brief description. The dog has to be bold in the field, and around birds before I will even consider intro to gunfire.This includes putting them on birds in the field multiple times a week.
 
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My young dogs, that have been fully acclimated to gunfire. Do not get to be in the field if shooting for another dog. They are parked far away in a vehicle, windows up, and radio playing to drowned out the noise.

My technique for introducing the gun takes close to 2 months. Basically I get the puppies on birds first. Weeks of bird contact. When they are comfortable chasing after birds, I, or someone else, will go 75-100 yards away and fire off a shotgun shell with just the primer installed. I have also used .22 caliber blank pistols inside an oven mitt.
Once I know the puppy is "bird crazy" I will fire the gun in the opposite direction of the puppy and look for the response.
Over the next few weeks I will move progressively closer and start to use .22 banks, or shotgun shells loaded very lightly. Still always shooting in the opposite direction so that the pressure wave is not moving in their direction.
If the response is positive, I will start to move the gun to parallel the puppy. It takes quite a few weeks of moving closer, changing gun angle, increasing load strength.
The "final" sessions are a dummy launcher, fired from about 25 yards away from the puppy in a nice arc that quarters away from them. Get them chasing that dummy and you're set. Now you move progressively closer. with the launcher over the next week or two
I doubt I ever fire a gun directly over their head the first year or two. A shotgun has a range of 40-55 yards, so there really is no need to fire right over them.
Once they get to chasing birds, and the guns go off, you're on your way.
As a measure, I will probably release 6 dozen quail in the first year of training. I'm fortunate that the habitat I have to train can sustain the quail for a week or two until the real predators find them, or it would easily be twice that many.
I like to set out 8-12 quail and let them run around for awhile and bring the dog in. Now there is foot scent for the puppy to follow and those quail will start popping up like Jiffy Pop. Once that starts is pretty much the first time I shoot a bird over the puppy. Half the time while they're running to the bird I shot, another one takes flight and they chase that one.
Go slow!Go real slow.!!It's a game of one step forward and two back if the response is less than positive.
I personally would not have done what the trainer did as you described it. I won't comment right or wrong, but I am not in the "sink or swim camp" with respect to introduction to the gun.
Once again progress slowly. You have her whole life to do this in.

PS
One area that I would openly criticize in the process you detailed, is using a "training partner" that is known to be gun sensitive or gun shy, while introducing your puppy to gun fire. That simply isn't ever going to work. The intro to gun fire is a one dog training session. Not a group.
Being judgemental I would say that the trainer may have been attempting to inspire confidence in the GSP with Ellie's behavior and response. Not a good scenario.
Now then, many people will use older "Steady Eddie, BTDT, dogs "with younger dogs to bridge the process. In this instance, as dogs cue off each others behavioral responses, the younger inexperienced puppy will hopefully gain confidence from the non reactive response of the older dog(s), but this scenario is generally played out only after the puppy has been introduced to gun fire by itself.
It is also a mechanism used to hopefully bridge to a gun sensitive dog, but it will probably very closely follow the method I outlined that I use for initial introduction, but with the gun sensitive puppy/dog, being with a group of non reactive, proven to be not gun sensitive dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for the info everyone. I'll be paying very close attention our next session to see how the trainer handles things with a little more knowledge to challenge any techniques that seem to go against the grain in @gunnr , @Gabica , and @texasred 's shared knowledge here. Thank you again!
 

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I go by, No one knows my dog better than me.
So even if a trainer wants to do something, that is not the right technique for my dog. I need to step up, and say No. It does not mean I know more about training dogs. I just know more about my dog.
Your family knows more about Ellie, than anyone else. So if something does not seem right for her. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with the trainer. Either the trainer will adapt to what fits Ellie, or you walk away. No hard feelings, and no harm done to Ellie.
 
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