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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I am reasonably new to the forums and vizsla ownership. I have a 10 month old bitch and wanted some general views on when she might start to point and if anything can be done to encourage her. I posted a couple of months back to garner general views on her likely hunting appetite because at our local HPR training (GSP club) they are a little down on the vizslas tendency to work because so many people are buying the dogs as pets. To be fair we had no intention of working her when we bought her but the more I have read the more it interests me. Our bitch’s parents are not working dogs but I’m told they do have hunting instincts especially her mother who actually catches pheasants which I imagine isn’t to be encouraged!

Our bitch is now extremely active and she’s really grow in confidence in 2 months. Although the extent to which she moves around is dependent on the terrain. If she doesn’t know the terrain then she will potter around barely 10 yards from us for a couple of hours which is frustrating whereas if we go to our regular walking spot she quarters quite well and is definitely excited by rabbits, pheasants etc. We try to not let her chase things but I suppose this is counter balanced by trying to encourage her to look for game.

As of yet no sign of a point – she does seem to point at other dogs and at objects in the ground but as soon as she nears them she realises they are not alive! I had heard somewhere that the dogs can sight point as well as scent point and it would seem to me that she is pointing using her eyes as opposed to her nose and it is the latter that we want her to use.

Sorry if slightly rambling but any general thoughts/comments gratefully received.
 

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Romo, You gave a fairly good description of what your Pup is doing and her background. Of course, without actually seeing and working with a dog it is difficult to offer an opinion, but based on your description I'll attempt it.

As you already indicated, the breeding was not performed with the mindset of a hunting/performance dog. That the Dam catches Pheasants is somewhat encouraging as it indicates some level of prey drive, however that is also somewhat offset by the fact that she catches them rather than Point. I'm assuming though, that the pheasants she catches are liberated birds that are domestically raised. It's quite difficult for a dog to catch wild Pheasant with any regularity. That could be the reason she doesn't point, as she's learned she can just run in and grab them. This discussion of the dam indirectly can relate to your Pup.

I see wide variations within the breed in regards to natural Pointing instinct. Some dogs scent point at 9 weeks, some just can't seem to settle themselves enough to point at all, though they enjoy the hunt and have a strong prey drive. Some prefer the chase and endorphin rush I think they get from that and simply won't point, regardless of game exposure, training, etc.

You answered your own question regarding not letting her chase game and not be independent, yet wanting her to have desire to hunt and independence. It's a definite conflict in training. Young dogs NEED to give chase to build and solidify the prey drive. As they mature and have a season of hunting behind them and are solid on their desire then we can begin gently curbing that chase component.

Have you ever had her on planted game that she could give a short chase? Have you ever given her the opportunity to pick up and carry live or recently dispatched game? There's a saying I use a lot - It takes birds to make a bird dog, it's half of the name. They need to actually pick up and carry, taste, inhale and imprint on the bird.

Regarding sight/scent Pointing, yes - dogs do both. Generally they start sight pointing at a very young age. We play with a wing on a string and they sight point, which is cute and give some indication of their pointing style. We switch quite quickly to hidden wings and birds as we want the dog to scent point. Dogs can become dependent on sight pointing, wanting to push to the point they see the bird, and that will result in bumped birds with no point.

I guess the summary is that I would work the dog first on wing clipped quail, let them catch and carry. Then move to carded or Johnny house (recall) quail and let them find it with their nose in light to moderate cover. Check cording can help sometimes to just give them a nudge to stop and encourage the point. With increased exposure if the dog just isn't pointing and range expanding, then I'd say she's probably going to be a very nice companion, which is what her breeders bred.

Ken
 

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WillowyndRanch said:
Have you ever had her on planted game that she could give a short chase? Have you ever given her the opportunity to pick up and carry live or recently dispatched game? There's a saying I use a lot - It takes birds to make a bird dog, it's half of the name. They need to actually pick up and carry, taste, inhale and imprint on the bird.
Exactly! Birds, birds, and more birds! I concur with all that Ken said. And I would put that dog on some lightly planted quail to see how she responds if by sight or scent, or not at all. If done properly i have a feeling she will give you that point. I would do this with a check cord to try and encourage the pointing instinct. I wouldn't tug on that cord, but just hold it firmly so she cannot bust in on the bird. because if she quickly discovers she can bust in on the bird and catch it there is no reason the point. think of the point as what happens before the pounce. similar to if you wanted to catch a fly with your barehand. you would line up your hand and wait a second(point) then go for the fly. With pointing dogs, we just discourage the pounce and encourage the prolonged point. Pretty much what Ken said.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ken, Joe,

Many thanks for your help. I should add that I believe the dam does point and enjoys putting up game but has a knack for catching pheasants mid-air! I assume they are liberated domestic birds as you say.

I haven’t used planted birds and am UK based so not sure how easy quails are to get hold of here? I could certainly get hold of some pheasants though whether it be the whole bird or in the short term a couple of wings from the butcher that I could tie to her dummy. Maybe harder to get her near some recently killed birds as I personally don’t shoot and I imagine not many shoots want an untrained vizsla marauding around!

We are taking some lessons with a very experienced lady who has to German wires so will keep you posted with progress!

Thanks again

Rob
 
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