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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey folks. If we go back a little bit, I started to have some small issues with Finn during hunting season in mid November. He started busting birds and breaking at the wing. The breaking at the wing didn't bother me as much as the bird busting, as he had been very steady at the point for some time.
I gave him some time to grow up a little bit and mature, and we've restarted again with the steady to wing and shot. The fundamental issue is actually the "stay" component here, so I am approaching the solution through that avenue. Using the retrieve to reinforce the stay in it's natural sequence. But he is doing something "odd" during retrieval training.
I use an RRT dummy launcher, which he loves this thing, but about 10-12 retrieves into the session. He will walk in the opposite direction a short distance and lock up like a statue pointed in the opposite direction. No amount of calling will break him off this stance. He doesn't even turn his head. He is as immobile as a garden statue. He can't mark the bumper, though if he's faced the opposite direction though.
In the retrieves up to this point, you get the same locked up stance from him, and every muscle in his body is coiled to go after the bumper. It's like he's vibrating energy.
At first I thought it might be the sound of a .22 blank, versus a shotgun, but he is not evidencing anything even remotely consistent with gun sensitivity. In fact quite the opposite. I'm also not firing over him, as we're working the triangle retrieval process.
I've taken to moving at a 90 degree angle to him when he locks up facing away from me, and firing away from him at an acute angle. He retrieves every single time. No hesitation, tail up, body ready.
Has anyone seen this behavior? Walking away. Basically locking up on point, but facing the opposite direction? He is on a check cord during these sessions, and I could pull him off the stance, but I would prefer to understand the behavior, before I try to correct the behavior.
I've backed him down and cut the sessions short, and went back to the football, just in case I'm introducing stress, but if anyone has seen this behavior before, let me know.

Thank you

Gunnr( mike)
 

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Hey folks. If we go back a little bit, I started to have some small issues with Finn during hunting season in mid November. He started busting birds and breaking at the wing. The breaking at the wing didn't bother me as much as the bird busting, as he had been very steady at the point for some time.
I gave him some time to grow up a little bit and mature, and we've restarted again with the steady to wing and shot. The fundamental issue is actually the "stay" component here, so I am approaching the solution through that avenue. Using the retrieve to reinforce the stay in it's natural sequence. But he is doing something "odd" during retrieval training.
I use an RRT dummy launcher, which he loves this thing, but about 10-12 retrieves into the session. He will walk in the opposite direction a short distance and lock up like a statue pointed in the opposite direction. No amount of calling will break him off this stance. He doesn't even turn his head. He is as immobile as a garden statue. He can't mark the bumper, though if he's faced the opposite direction though.
In the retrieves up to this point, you get the same locked up stance from him, and every muscle in his body is coiled to go after the bumper. It's like he's vibrating energy.
At first I thought it might be the sound of a .22 blank, versus a shotgun, but he is not evidencing anything even remotely consistent with gun sensitivity. In fact quite the opposite. I'm also not firing over him, as we're working the triangle retrieval process.
I've taken to moving at a 90 degree angle to him when he locks up facing away from me, and firing away from him at an acute angle. He retrieves every single time. No hesitation, tail up, body ready.
Has anyone seen this behavior? Walking away. Basically locking up on point, but facing the opposite direction? He is on a check cord during these sessions, and I could pull him off the stance, but I would prefer to understand the behavior, before I try to correct the behavior.
I've backed him down and cut the sessions short, and went back to the football, just in case I'm introducing stress, but if anyone has seen this behavior before, let me know.

Thank you

Gunnr( mike)
Gosh, I wish I could help! I'm a complete novice in bird-dog training. Regardless, the precision of which you describe your dilemmas is priceless! I find the question is equally as valuable as an answer. Thanks!
 

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it does sound like an adolescent boy suddenly not sure about what is expected from him.
i would go back some more steps and practice whoa everywhere starting with areas with least amount of distraction, like in the house, backyard, frontyard etc. i did a lot what you are doing with the bumper, but in this house and with very desirable toys. Toy thrown, Whoa!. Dog freezes, ok you can get it. from couch to couch, at staircase etc. then switching to a different game, like hide the toy. then back to whoa. so that it is not overly repetitive. then occasionally backyard, then at our creek runs, etc. at the creek i used to just let them run first. then have them start focusing on whoa after 15-20 minutes run. not everyone agrees with that method, but with a green dog which has a possibility of shutting down from too much pressure i had rather listened to the advices promoting that type of training method. if it is very cold i may see here and there an occasional bird busting, but most of the time they whoa right at the beginning.
hope this helps.
 

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It almost sounds like avoidance, or even a refusal. The confusion part is him still being happy to retrieve.
I would cut back on the retrieves. A few days off, then only doing 3 or 4 every other day.
As far as whoa goes, have you ever used bird launchers? You can get a lot of whoa work in with a check cord, and 2-3 launchers.
Any movement by the dog and the bird is launched, and the dog walked away.

I'm not really a big fan of the rrt dummy launcher. It's not realistic to a dog doing retrieves on a hunt.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the feedback.
It's interesting that two people with experience came to basically the same problem identification. That being that the "whoa" component is not instilled properly. I'm rethinking the issue now, based on that feedback, but I think you're onto something. I never really had to work the whoa much, because he was steady at the point. We'll begin to work on the whoa and stay.
It's seems as if we agree that the pressure needs to be backed off for awhile, so I will do that. We'll cut back on the retrieves and put the launcher away for now.
Texas Red
I used "Tip Up's" in the beginning with him. They're not a remote launcher though. They basically look like a deep fryer, french fry basket with a bent handle. You step on them to release the birds. He caught onto the game really fast though and then I had to put the birds to sleep first and just walk him up. A hole must have developed that I didn;t catch at that time.
I have been seriously thinking of buying some of the new remote launchers. They've come a long way from the style with the pull cord. I used to use.
Once again, thank you you for the input.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
derwos

Objective feedback is critical to dog development. The handler is often to close to the problem, and doesn't see what some one else does. It's very small clues that point out the issue(s)
Prior to Covid 19, we would work our puppies in fun runs, derbies, and trials. You could get a lot of feedback those weekends, All of those activities were cancelled this year. It makes it harder.
 

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derwos

Objective feedback is critical to dog development. The handler is often to close to the problem, and doesn't see what some one else does. It's very small clues that point out the issue(s)
Prior to Covid 19, we would work our puppies in fun runs, derbies, and trials. You could get a lot of feedback those weekends, All of those activities were cancelled this year. It makes it harder.
agreed. i have been trying to go and hunt / train with others recently. sometimes vizslas, sometimes gsp`s. at the beginning we would train the dogs one at a time, helping each other with feedback, bird planting, shooting etc. every session i would be called out at least for one mistake i am making, so huge help to me. last time with a vizsla friend we already created braces and it was immensely helpful too. Bende went with an older female who is an MH, so Bende quickly figured that he rather pulls his best behavior and they ended up hunting very well together. He made one mistake when he was not sure about backing the MH female around a big tree, i could not see it only the other handler, so she whoad Bende and he quickly corrected the mistake. As a reward Bende got to retrieve twice, he was in heaven. Then Miksa went with another female and they hunted very well together too and again we had more pair of eyes to watch if anyone had made a mistake, so that we can correct quickly. The other female was not that strong on backing, but Miksa was, so she quickly caught up too. We had a puppy owner with a puppy with us too, that was a learning for everyone again. Then we had the MH female running a brace with another female of the same owner and i got the honor to handle the MH. Again lots of learning for me.
with Covid we have the same challenges, so no organized training events in our area, and honestly you got to be able to trust the ones you train with that no one has the virus. So we don`t train near as much on the field as i would like to...
 

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I really like the remote bird launchers.
It gives you precise control of the flush.
If a dog does not stop, takes a step, or starts to flag. You can launch the bird at the precise moment.
You want to consider a 5-10 foot circle around the launcher to be off-limits to the dog. I start with 10, but after a dog has been worked with launchers a few times. I will lessen it some, if scenting conditions are bad.
You never want your dog to be right over a bird launcher. Should it release right in their face, and cause a long list of other problems.


Years ago people would heavily dizzy a quail in thin cover. If a dog took a step, or flagged. They would ground pound ( shoot the bird at close range) that bird. The dog would see the bird explode on the ground. It did work for some dogs, but still not my preference for fixing the problem.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
With quail, I get them at 6 weeks old, and then they'll be in a pole barn I converted into a quail enclosure. They'll spend a month or two in there getting bigger and stronger, so that when I finally do release them in the field, they can really fly once they take off. Not just hop and flutter 20 feet. No "ground pounding". I would rather they fly 200 yards and leave foot scent, so that they can be worked again.
I don't heavily dizzy them, just enough to keep them in place with grass folded over them. There are always some feathers, so I will place those on the ground about 10-15 feet away, so that the dog picks those up first, hopefully.
I started looking at launchers again, and will more than likely get a pair of them. DT and a few others have expandable lines that work off a single programmable remote that look nice. We had the pull cable model many years ago, but those required a second person, and right now I am pretty much training alone. Which is not always easy as Gabica pointed out.

I think this sentence may be very fundamental.
"It almost sounds like avoidance, or even a refusal. The confusion part is him still being happy to retrieve His retrieval desire is very, very, high."

I to at first thought "avoidance" so I stopped the first few times he did it. Then I slowly moved away, made sure he could see me, covered the launcher with my body, and fired it. He went for it like a missile which did confuse me somewhat. I think that if I continue, he may start to shutdown, so I stopped until I could understand it better.
Finn is a nice, hardworking, dog in the field. We got some stuff to work on, but I'm going to give him 6-8 weeks to just be a dog. Work on the whoa/stay and complete the retrieval to hand. We'll leave the launcher at home, use the Chuck it balls, and take the pressure level down.
I am looking forward to playing with launchers. ;)
I love working with these dogs.
 

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I've never did the ground pound.
I've seen it done, and it did work for that dog. It just did not seem natural to me. More of a trick, quick fix, not doing the work to fix holes you missed the first time.

The bird is totally obliterated into a puff of feathers, if the dog shows any movement.
Maybe that's the whole idea. No flush, no flight, the bird is just gone. And I don't see there being any fun in that, for them.
 

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Hey folks. If we go back a little bit, I started to have some small issues with Finn during hunting season in mid November. He started busting birds and breaking at the wing. The breaking at the wing didn't bother me as much as the bird busting, as he had been very steady at the point for some time.
I gave him some time to grow up a little bit and mature, and we've restarted again with the steady to wing and shot. The fundamental issue is actually the "stay" component here, so I am approaching the solution through that avenue. Using the retrieve to reinforce the stay in it's natural sequence. But he is doing something "odd" during retrieval training.
I use an RRT dummy launcher, which he loves this thing, but about 10-12 retrieves into the session. He will walk in the opposite direction a short distance and lock up like a statue pointed in the opposite direction. No amount of calling will break him off this stance. He doesn't even turn his head. He is as immobile as a garden statue. He can't mark the bumper, though if he's faced the opposite direction though.
In the retrieves up to this point, you get the same locked up stance from him, and every muscle in his body is coiled to go after the bumper. It's like he's vibrating energy.
At first I thought it might be the sound of a .22 blank, versus a shotgun, but he is not evidencing anything even remotely consistent with gun sensitivity. In fact quite the opposite. I'm also not firing over him, as we're working the triangle retrieval process.
I've taken to moving at a 90 degree angle to him when he locks up facing away from me, and firing away from him at an acute angle. He retrieves every single time. No hesitation, tail up, body ready.
Has anyone seen this behavior? Walking away. Basically locking up on point, but facing the opposite direction? He is on a check cord during these sessions, and I could pull him off the stance, but I would prefer to understand the behavior, before I try to correct the behavior.
I've backed him down and cut the sessions short, and went back to the football, just in case I'm introducing stress, but if anyone has seen this behavior before, let me know.

Thank you

Gunnr( mike)
What age is the dog? Do you shoot birds over the dog in training and or hunting only when it is steady?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Finn is now 14 months old.
He began the season at 10 months old and prior to this, he was steady at the point. All summer long we worked at the point.
About 6 weeks into the season. He would break to wing, just prior to the shot. Then it progressed to actually bumping birds. At that point I went back to the check cord, and revisited the steady to wing.
I can see no indication of gun shyness, or anxiety in Finn. Even when he was pointed in the opposite direction during these sessions, he is like a coiled spring waiting to go. He is "locked on". Finn holds to the shot of the bumper, and races to retrieve it. He's just pointed in the wrong direction.
The body language during the retrieve is head held high, tail is loose, the mark is good. He runs and straight and true.
His return to hand needs to improve, but that will come. That has been an issue for some months. I can force him to give to hand, but I want him to do it naturally, without correction. I'm not ready to begin force retrieval training with him just yet.
This past season Finn had 16 pheasants shot over him, and probably 20+ quail.
Intro to the gun was a slow process over many weeks. I probably went through 125-150 lightly loaded target loads, starting at 80-90 yards away, slowly working closer. After that was completed, we went to the dummy launcher. Again with a slow introduction.
Right now we're just having fun playing with Chuck it balls. Working on the retrieve to hand, the whoa, and eventually we'll get to redirection with multiple bumpers during the retrieve.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Mike
 
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