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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

Well, I decided to start training our 14 month old puppy to hunt.... a few catches though.

1. I have never hunted before
2. I have never trained a dog to hunt
3. This is my first vizsla

But, I am committed and believe with the right resources I can succeed. So, this is where I need your help...what are some good sites, books, DVDs and so on that can assist me and my dog Chance?

Chance has had basic obedience training and about 24 weeks of agility classes under his belt. He listens pretty well to me. From what I have read I need to really work on heel and the come command with him. Both of these he "knows" and does about 90% of the time, but that isn't good enough and the bad habits need to stop.

I know this will be hard for Chance and I, well actually probably harder for myself, but this is something I think we both will like. After I have watched him grow up and point on his own with no training it got me interested in training him to hunt. He points at all types of birds, squirrels and so on. Now we just need to teach the whoa command.

Anyways, any help is greatly appreciated. We are located in a suburb of Chicago...Wheaton, IL. So if anyone is close that hunts we would love your help.

Thanks in advance,

Nick
 

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Nick

Believe it or not, you're in a very good position. Having no preconcieved ideas, or methods, you'll follow a program to the letter simply because you don't know another method.

1st thing:
Rid your mind of the notion that you "Will train a dog to hunt". Your dog knows how to hunt. He has the instincts, or he doesn't.
What you are trying to do is make your dog hunt with and for you. You're ( the human) the limiting factor in the equation.

Rule #1. Trust the dog
Rule #2. Trust the dog until he proves you right.
Rule #3. Are you sure the dog is wrong?
Rule #4. Trust the dog. ;)

The "Come" command is paramount. It must be solid. This doesn't mean that 100% of the time your dog hightails it back to your hand. It means that you can "turn your dog" and "bring him in". He doesn't need to come all the way back, just back to a point that you are comfortable with, and that you can redirect him from.

"Whoa" is the beginning and basis of your control up to the shot. Don't confuse whoa with "stay". They are different. Stay is an extension of the whoa, but ultimately will become a different command altogether.
From the whoa you will begin the "Fetch. From this point forward,starting today, do not let your dog indiscriminately chase a ball when you toss it. He must be conditioned to "mark" the fall, or drop, and then be commanded to fetch. Doing it in this manner sets him up for steadying to wing and shot later on. You willl probably have to use the stay at first, along with a slip cord. ( A slipcord is a length of 1" wide flat nylon material. It has no butt ends. Divife the length in half while looping it under his collar. What this allows you to do is walk the dog up on a bird, and then let go of one end of the nylon. As the dog moves out the nylon "Slips" under his collar, but at any point you can stop the strapping from payin out,or let it go all the way out. It's not a "slip lead", which is something much different.

Heel is a very important command, and you will probably find yourself, once you begin hunting, using it more with the come command. Bring the dog in, heel him up, move out and release.

You will need birds, lots of birds. Quail can be raised in chicken tractors in the backyard. They don't smell any where near as bad as chickens, so even in a residential environment they are a doable solution. If you have more land available to you, start off with a well made "Johnny House".Look into brooding and rearing quail. They're very easy.

Books

Try the books by Richard Wolters, especially the one on training gundogs.
Any books or videos by Delmar Smith, or his son are good resources.
Subscribe to Gun Dog magazine
Ken Roebuck for working a dog afield. He is/was primarily into setters, but he uses his as pointers also. Good books.
James Spencer for retrieving. he's simply the best.

If you can find any used books by Horace Lytle. They are really good. He wrote during the 20's through the 50's, but the info and techniques are every bit as relevant today.

Get involved with your local Vizsla club. From there you will find people with your same objective.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Gunnr,

Wow, thanks so much for your advice! I guess you are right, it's more of learning together how to work as a team, me being the leader. A good way to think about it.

I actually am training the heel command per your advice from previous post I have read. He is doing fairly well and progressing along!

I am working with Chance (our vizsla) on two types of "come" commands. I have 1 were he just needs to make visual contact with me to "check in". I use this when I'm changing directions or want to get his attention. He listens to this 100% of the time.

The other "come" command is the one where I want him to come all the way back to me. This one is about 90% of the time. I am working hard on this, but do you have any tips for this? Should this be done on a check cord?

What I would like your advice on, is how do you teach the whoa command? How do I begin doing this? I have read about a method which involves a rig that has a loop under his abdominal section and then under his collar. Not sure of the name of this method, but what do you use? Chance will point at basically any animal that moves...he will stay on point for a few seconds sometimes longer, then begins to creep after them. So where do I go from here?

I will start the "fetch" command like you suggest from this point further. He will go fetch anything I throw and bring it back, but not 100% of the time. Is there anything else I need to do to train him to retrieve it 100% of the time? I have read about a forced retrieve, does this sound familiar? Is it something you suggest?

I will look into quail options as well. I knew I would need a supply of birds. Now obviously I need to have the above mentioned commands down before working on birds correct? I mean he sees birds at the dog park all the time. Also, do you recommend doing the begging bird work with quail or doves? I have heard doves are the way to go at the begging because they are cheaper. Your thoughts?

Sorry for sooo many questions. I just have so many.

Thanks again!

Nick

P.S. I actually just joined my local vizsla club yesterday before writing the first post. I am going to see if anyone is willing to help me with this process as well.
 

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Nick

If you're getting Chance to respond to the come 100% of the time and check in, you're well ahead of the game. That is quite an accomplishment.

On the "come" where he is only 90%. Try to incorporate the "heel" at the end. The heel is a sort of an "end of the game" signal. Once he realizes though that you only want him to "Come to Heel", and then he'll be released again, he'll probably be a little more steady.
The absolute worst thing to do is to try an "remote control" a hunting dog. Let him have his head and hunt. Continually yo-yoing him out and back will probably cause him to lose interest. Don't overuse the "come". I just clap my hands to let the dog know to look at me, and they change direction with me with no voice command.

The technique for the "whoa" you are referring to is the use of the "Whoa sling". I don't recommend it, unless you have someone else helping you that is familiar with the concept. It's difficult to control the dog, the sling, the bird and the walk-up.
Begin the whoa with no birds, or outside stimuli. Put Chance in a spot and command "whoa" with the same signal a traffic cop would use for stop. When he moves, step in and put him right back where he was. keep doing it over and over until he stops moving. Some people work the "Whoa" and "Stay" together. It works, but later on you'll have to seperate out the Whoa and Stay for him. "Whoa" means Wait for me. "Stay" means Don't you dare move.
Whoa is the command you will use on the initial walkup to a live bird. Stay is the command immediately preceding the shot. You don't want a dog that breaks at the "wing" or "shot". For his safety he needs to "Stay" until the shooting is over with. A low flying bird, a dog that breaks, and an undisciplined shotgunner, is a recipe for disaster.
Work the whoa on the ground. Some folks like to work off a table, but I prefer the ground.
After you can whoa him in a spot, and move around him without him moving from the spot. Start working the "Whoa off the heel. "Walk On"........ Heel-up...... Whoa..... Walk On...... Heel-up..... whoa". Lots of praise and attention.

Next purchase, or make some poultry carriers. Put Doves, pigeons, quail,Chukar whatever in the carriers. place a few around in plain sight, and some hidden in bushes. Put chance on a slip cord, heel him up, and walk him up to one, in plain sight, until he see's it. At that instant he will pull forwad. Don't command him to Heel. Resist the urge. Give the Whoa command at this point. Steady him up and keep repeating whoa, while simultaneously letting pressure off the slip cord. Once this is done. Turn him around on the heel and go to the next bird and repeat, and then the next and the next. It really helps to have a helper remove the birds you've already visited to "clear the field, and his mind."
When you get to the hidden ones He will have to "hunt" and you have to let him. As he gets hotter give him a slow "easy" until he locks in, and then the "Whoa".
Keep commanding the Whoa and eventually you should not have a lead in your hand

To start the "Stay" use the "Fetch". "Stay"... throw.... "Fetch".... Retrieve and repeat. This is the normal sequence.

Don't go to the "Force Retrieve" unless you find that you need to. I've had dogs that would ignore a tennis ball, or training buck, and then tear themselves to pieces getting to a downed bird in the bull briars. If Chance proves himself to retrieve dead/wounded birds, cut him some slack on the fetch with a training aid.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Again Gunnr great info! Thanks!

A few questions specifically about the "whoa" command.

1. So after I have the "whoa" down inside and he is staying put and allowing me to walk around, then I take it outside on leash correct? No other in between steps?

2. I've read and seen pictures of vizslas on point standing still like a statue, is this just instinct or something that is taught? For example when we move to the planted birds after he gets smell of them he will probably point then I say "whoa" correct? Should I expect him to stay put in the point position during the "whoa" and make sure he stays in the pointing position?

3. Are there any tricks for the "whoa" on the leash? I should probably have the "heel" down before I start incorporating the whoa into it right?

4. With the planted birds so I walk him up to the ones in plain sight and he sees or smells the birds I tell him "whoa" and then slowly let pressure off the slip cord....but what do you mean by steady him? Do you mean make sure he is pointing or just make sure he is not moving? If he keeps pulling towards the birds do I just apply pressure and keep telling him "whoa"?

5. I was just working on the stay...throw the toy and after it hit the ground for a few seconds saying "free go get it"....I was using "go get it" and like that better than "fetch", is that ok? Anyways he is doing pretty good with that, but I saw a problem....he would stay until I released him and ran to the bird brought it back within 6 feet of me and looked at me. He would not bring it all the way back to me. It's like he wants to play like we usually do. How can I get him to bring the toy right back to me and place it in my hand? Should I try using treats? Or do you have another method?

Thanks again,

Nick
 

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Nick

1. Take it outside. He's done inside from what you've stated.

2. Yes and no. The instinct is to point and freeze the bird in place. What isn't natural is waiting for us. So he points instinctively, and you "staunch" him to wait. In the beginning, yes you will "whoa" on the birds. As you develop a rapport with him you'll be able to recognize what kind of point it is. Flash point, old wind scent, new wind scent, old foot scent, new foot scent. Watch his tail and his lips. If that tail is wiggling really fast, and he's pulling back his lips to scent more, he's very close. You'll go into it with the slow "easy", and move to the whoa. Once he's staunch on point, and steady to wing and shot, One whoa is enough. The whoa is also for you to set up, push the safety off, and get ready for the bird.

3. There really are no tricks. Plenty of differing techniques, but no tricks. it's patience, time, repetition, and work.
Training is not a linear process. All the commands are taught pretty much together, but emphasis is placed on some more than others depending on where the dog is at. Sometimes a dog will get stuck on something, and you'll have to move to something else, and then circle back again. Be flexible.

4. To steady him, you will get down on your knees with the slipcord, or leash, in your hand. Stroke him, and talk low and slow to him. Run you hand the length of his spinal column and finish with the tail. Use a gentle soothing voice to calm him. whoa... whoa... whoa...... sometimes almost whispers. You may have to keep a hand on his chest while the other works his body, but the point is to calm him down, and keep him in place.

5. Turn around and walk 6 feet away from him and encourage him to bring it to hand. You can also try to bring him to the heel, or just command come and walk off. Use treats to test him, but he should return the toy out of desire and obediance. You've changed the rules of the game on him very suddenly and he needs a chance to learn the "new game". It'll work out, and be very proud/glad that he's not running off with the toy. That at least doesn't have to be corrected.
,
He's your dog. Whatever commands, or words you want to use are between him and you. As long as you both understand. In a field environment judges may expect certain commands, but to hunt him and maybe do some local "fun trials", talk to him however you please.


I would like to elaborate on one point, that may cause confusion on the fetch for someone else. I don't believe you have this issue, but someone else may read it.

In your posts you have indicated that Chance had no issues fetching a thrown object, which is why I had you hold him at the throw to begin the stay.
If a dog hasn't developed a strong retrieval instinct, hoilding them at the throw and commanding fetch probably won't work. They'll just shutdown.
In young dogs it's very important to get that retrieval insinct developed in high gear before you begin to suppress it by using the stay and then commanding the fetch. Let the dog chase until their tongue falls out if they want to. Get that retrieval instinct strongly developed first. then move on. If possible get a young dog into the water and retrieving at the first opportunity. Even if it's just chasing an object into puddles, or through them.

Apologies if I led anyone astray.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Gunnr.

I'm amazed at the heeling technique that you've described so many times on this site and I've read about else where. In 2 1/2 days his heel has gotten much better. I'm hoping that in a few weeks he will be able to be called in, "come" and then heel out without a leash. I'm working with him a few times a day for short time frames, 10-20 minutes. Is this long enough, too long, or should I be doing more? I always end on a positive with him.

I also wanted to ask you do you use a whistle with your dog/s?

I also wanted to get your thoughts about this that I've been reading about. It involves a bird wing on a fishing pole. What is the point of this? I've read about it everywhere, but have no clue what the point is? Is it useful? Should I be doing this? I have fishing poles and could get a wing...but I just don't know what to do with it? Is it a game of keep away or what?

Do you think I should start planting some quail or doves in those wire cages you've described for him? Or is this too soon and should I focus on the commands first?

Oh also, what shotgun do you use for quail and other upland game? I'm new to the hunting world and would like some advice before I decided which gun to get.

Thanks again!

Nick
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Opps forgot to add one more question.

What are your thoughts on these electronic collars? Is it a must for a hunting dog? Do these shock the dog? Or do they just make a tone and vibrate? I guess what's the point of them and should I be looking into them?

Thanks again,

Nick
 

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Nick

Electronic collars are a very effective training aid when used properly Strong emphasis on used properly.

They are not a must for hunting dogs. People have been training and hunting with dogs for centuries without the use of them.
They vibrate, make tones, and shock the dog. They also have different beeping tones for when your dog is moving and on point. They simulate a screaming hawk to pin the bird, and they have GPS locators in them.

The point of the collar is to extend the leash. The rest is just bells and whistles, literally.

I have them, but I don't really use them. I will use them as a saftety belt for the first few excursions without a checkcord, but other than that, not much else. That said, both of my dogs have been eCollar trained, and know that when that collar vibrates, I better see a little sarga colored dog making a beeline for me. (I only use them to enforce the "come" command.) Mine is part of the invisible fence system I have, but can also be used outside the fence.
My personal belief is that you should have a partnership with your dog. One where you both try and meet each other part way. I prefer the "old ways".
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Gunnr,

I'm amazed at the heeling technique that you've described so many times on this site and I've read about else where. In 2 1/2 days his heel has gotten much better. I'm hoping that in a few weeks he will be able to be called in, "come" and then heel out without a leash. I'm working with him a few times a day for short time frames, 10-20 minutes. Is this long enough, too long, or should I be doing more? I always end on a positive with him.

I also wanted to ask you do you use a whistle with your dog/s?

I also wanted to get your thoughts about this that I've been reading about. It involves a bird wing on a fishing pole. What is the point of this? I've read about it everywhere, but have no clue what the point is? Is it useful? Should I be doing this? I have fishing poles and could get a wing...but I just don't know what to do with it? Is it a game of keep away or what?

Do you think I should start planting some quail or doves in those wire cages you've described for him? Or is this too soon and should I focus on the commands first?

Oh also, what shotgun do you use for quail and other upland game? I'm new to the hunting world and would like some advice before I decided which gun to get.

Thanks again!

Nick
 

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Nick

How old is Chance?

Your sessions should last as long as his attention span. It sounds like you're doing everything just fine.

The wing on a pole is really for puppies in my opinion. It's a sight pointing excercise to get thenm engaged. It doesn't even have to be a wing. An old rag on the string will do the same thing.
The game is very short lived with a Vizsla. it takes them no time at all to figure out that to get the wing, they need to get the rod. They'll stop going for the wing and go for the rod. I think you'll find that it would be fun to play with Chance with it, but It will be a very short lived excercise.

Work the commands and the birds simultaneously. Get him on those birds and wake him up. He'll be unsteady at first, and that's to be expected. it will give you lots of real time opportunities to interact with him. keep your expectations low, and just let him start to find himself. Don't be too overbearing, but don't let him get away with murder either.

Recommending shotguns is difficult due to the variables involved. For instance, I'm 6'3", 210lbs. I have long arms and very quick reflexes. I hunt in tight cover, rarely open. I use heavier over unders. Winchester 101's. Their weight and length slow me down and give me a better swing and follow through. if a shotgun is too light, I get in front of the bird, and have to come back. I've tested some really nice, lightweight shotguns and couldn't hit the side of a barn if I was standing inside it. For me, Heavy, long and slow is the ticket.
Try a lot of different shotguns. Pick the one that comes up the most naturally for you, and is in the correct sighting plane without readjusting yourself.
I would say though that you can't wrong with a Remington autoloader. They are great shotguns, affordable, well made, great design, just about any gunsmith can repair one, and if you find that they are not your exact cup of tea, or you want to explore the world of side by side, or over unders. They are a great second gun.
I've had my original Remington 1100 since 1981. I've bought and sold a lot of guns since then. Even though I shoot over unders almost exclusively,that Remington has seen a lot of different hands through the years as both a "loaner" and learner. Whenever I start to have problems, I break it out and troubleshoot my shooting.
 

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Hi Gunnr!

Can you tell me how you use the ecollar for training. I have one for leo a SportDog, but the instructions are some what useless and I cant found any info on them anywhere apart from the odd youtube clip being used on the typical black lab

Leo knows all his commands but is very reluctant to obey them. Hunts and retrieves well but has started to pick up and then not return to me. Also he doesnt seem to point much, apart from other dogs, is there any exercises you can recommend for this?

Thanks again, you experience seems to be greatly appreciated by everyone!


Andy.
 

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For me, the eCollar is the last step in the process, if I ever use it all. I'm actually not a big fan of eCollars . I have used them, but in very purpose specific situations where I know that the dog really is just blowing me off.
Before putting the eCollar on one of my dogs, they have spent countless hours under instruction with a leash, or check cord attached. The commands are known to them, and they know the correct response.
At this point I use the eCollar in conjunction with the checkcord. Command, hopefully obey, if not reinforce with the checkcord, while simultaneously making the collar buzz, not shock, just buzz. This is repeated so many times it boring. If they do not follow the command at the tug of the checkcord, or the buzz of the collar, I give them one more chance. If I am still not obeyed, I command, reinforce with the checkcord, buzz the collar and stimulate, or shock, them while tugging the check cord.
What I am trying to teach the dog is that I can enforce a command, no matter what distance you are away from me. I would say that the only command I actually use a collar on is the "Come". The rest is just a lot of time spent on the ground with the dog, and a lot of dirtyy pants in the laundry.

As for not pointing. Is he blinking birds, bumping them, flushing them at a run trampling over them, etc? Pointing can be reinforced, and staunched, but you have to have a beginning. Generally the more contact with birds, the better the dogs gets at pointing, As long as they haven't been conditioned to just indiscriminately run like a nut with them.
 

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Gunnr said:
Andy

For me, the eCollar is the last step in the process, if I ever use it all. I'm actually not a big fan of eCollars . I have used them, but in very purpose specific situations where I know that the dog really is just blowing me off.
Before putting the eCollar on one of my dogs, they have spent countless hours under instruction with a leash, or check cord attached. The commands are known to them, and they know the correct response.
At this point I use the eCollar in conjunction with the checkcord. Command, hopefully obey, if not reinforce with the checkcord, while simultaneously making the collar buzz, not shock, just buzz. This is repeated so many times it boring. If they do not follow the command at the tug of the checkcord, or the buzz of the collar, I give them one more chance. If I am still not obeyed, I command, reinforce with the checkcord, buzz the collar and stimulate, or shock, them while tugging the check cord.
What I am trying to teach the dog is that I can enforce a command, no matter what distance you are away from me. I would say that the only command I actually use a collar on is the "Come". The rest is just a lot of time spent on the ground with the dog, and a lot of dirtyy pants in the laundry.

As for not pointing. Is he blinking birds, bumping them, flushing them at a run trampling over them, etc? Pointing can be reinforced, and staunched, but you have to have a beginning. Generally the more contact with birds, the better the dogs gets at pointing, As long as they haven't been conditioned to just indiscriminately run like a nut with them.
Hi Gunnr,

I just wanted to say thank you for your post and help. Chance and I have been training like crazy. He know comes when called, heels and the "whoa" is getting better and better every day.

We actually hooked up with someone from the Vizsla club of Illinois and his dog is a Master hunter, they have been helping us with bird introduction and gun introduction. We have ran into one problem though and he has a few different ideas, but I wanted to get your thoughts....

You see we have been using quail to train with in a large field. We plant the birds (with a piece of string and cardboard attached to their feet, so they can fly, but not too far, we use a glove so we do not put our scent on them). Chance will find the birds with no problem, he checks back and forth, zig-zagging like he should be. When he hits the scent cone you can tell he's onto the bird. He will come to about 10 feet of the bird, sort of point and then creep a little and then blink on the bird. When I encourage him, he goes back to the bird, but doesn't know what to do really. The guy I've been training with says he just needs to be put on more birds and he will get it.

What are your thoughts? He thought we should let Chance chase the bird a little. So we flushed the bird and let Chance go after it.....not kill it just chase it awhile and then took him away from the bird after praising. He thought this might increase his prey drive.

Do you have any suggestions? Do you think just putting him on more birds will remedy the situation by itself?

I am hoping to have him ready to hunt for the season, so the time factor is crucial here.

Thanks again for your help and advice with the training, it has made a huge difference.

Nick
 

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At this point Chance has an incomplete picture, but a good one! You're doing really well with him by the way ;)
It's time to stop tying the cardboard to the feet and dizzying the birds. The "game" needs to become more natural. Chance needs to be afforded the opportunity to "bump" some birds, and they have to fly off. This should encourage a chase, which you can let him get away with initially, but don't let him get the idea that flushing and chasing is what you want.

Have you introduced the gun yet?

The sequence that you are trying to establish in Chance's mind is;
Search
FInd scent.
Point
Owner flush, or be commanded to flush.
Bird takes flight
Mark flight of bird
Gun goes off
Bird falls
Retrieve to hand

At this point you're in between steps 3 and 4. If you spend too much time here it may get boring and Chance could lose interest. I would start introducing the gun at this stage. to set you up for the steadying to wing and shot.
Unfortunately steadying to wing and shot means that birds have to be shot, and there are many regulations in just about every state about shooting birds outside of season. Most people, like myself, with limited access to land wait for the season to start and then take our own birds into the forest, and the "hunt" them. Which really means that were "legally" steadying the dog to wing and shot.
bird fall
 

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Hi Gunnr,

I'm working on introducing the gun to chance. Right now we are still at the stage of firing blanks around him. He is a skidish dog by nature, so this is taking some time to properly introduce him to guns. I don't want to make him gun shy and then break him of that as I've heard horror stories about this. So, I think taking my time is the key. Any tips or suggestions? Basically, we are having him find the birds and when he finds the birds, we steady him (I usually hold him around the chest petting him) and the other guy will flush the bird and let it fly away. We then let Chance go after the bird to chase it and when he starts to chase it we fire the blank. Should we be doing anything different?

I see what you mean about not spending too much time at this step....but what are your thoughts about him blinking on birds and not really pointing them? Does this just come with time and repetition? I see what you are saying that once he is broke to the sound of the gun we should start shooting birds over him, but what should we do till he is broke to the gun? I really want him to have a strong point....I have been working with him on whoa like crazy. He will do it off the lead now! But when he's on a bird, he will not do it. All his other commands are great! He will actually come to me when called and heel next to me without the lead on at all.

Thanks again for your advice,

Nick
 

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Nick

I've never been one to focus on what the dog is doing wrong. Not that I don't notice it, it's just that I look more closely at what the dog is doing right.
"Focus on Strengths. Concentrate on Weaknesses".

If I look at Chance this is what I see:

In 35 days you have taken him from a "basic odediance trained pet", and now have him;
a.) Searching for game.
b.) Finding game.
c.) Communicating to you that he has found the game.
d.) Steady, somewhat, to wing.
e.) Marking the flight.
f.) Breaking him to the gun. Which by the way, is be done exactly the way it should be. If he is continuing to follow the bird after the gun is fired, and not runnign for the hills, you're pretty much there.

The point is, He is doing a heckuva of a lot of things right, learned them in a short period of time, and is providing you with a great foundation to build upon. You may also want to back off a little on the pressure, and just make some days fun for him.

In your post you are identifying that you are having trouble with the whoa. I'm assuming that you are trying to whoa him when he gets on a bird. Is this correct?
A mistake committed more often than not is to overuse the whoa when the dog gets on scent. The handler will repeatedly command "whoa,whoa,whoa" as soon as the dog begins to get hot. (Basically they don't trust the dog.)
What can happen here is that the dog will begin to react more to the whoa,a nd less to the bird,and when they finally do locate it and begin the point, they are anticipating correction and blink. The whoa is actually the command given only after the point is established. It steadies the dog, and sets up the retrieve. If you're whoaing him leading up to the bird, you're probably confusing him at this point. I use "easy" as the dog is getting hot. I just low and slow speak " easy" to them. It's not a command, it's more an audible cue to them that says. "I'm right here with ya' ". I am trying to "energetically absorb their nervous energy".


Point, "whoa", flush, shoot, fetch.

Let Chance go. Let him make his mistakes. He's doing so much right that he's earned a little slack,and you need to more correctly identify the issue.
If I were handling him, the next time, I would just let him go. I wouldn't even talk to him once he hit scent. Let him hunt with no inteference. He's going to get at those birds, so take the cardboard off them to give them a chance and try to get strong flyers. Let him "intentionally" bump them. Take Chance to a space between blinking and bumping, and then work from there.

No dog ever has, or ever will, start their first day afield as a "finished gun dog" It just can't happen. We try to present them with the basic framework through simulated hunting conditions, and outline our expectations through obediance training, but it takes real life experience handling "live birds", to really bring it all together. When it happens though, it's really cool. It's like a light switch goes off in them and they change in that moment. All of the sudden you have a new dog.

Back off on him a liittle bit, and let him absorb all he's learned. Let him make his mistakes naturally.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi Gunnr,

Yeah I have been trying to be real laid back with the training and encouraging him even if he doesn't do it perfect. He has come along way in 30 some days and I'm very proud of him and I for doing this together.

In regards to the whoa. I should back step and explain the whole process for you. I have only used it once with live quail. It was only the second time he was on quail and he actually locked up on point, I was about 30 yards away and said whoa. He didn't stay put and in hindsight I shouldn't have said the command. Maybe this threw him off a little? Not sure.

I went back to working Chance on the check cord at the dog park and around the house on whoa. He will know do it off the check cord around the house and at the dog park. I've tried it on some geese that are regulars at a pond by us and I can whoa him and walk towards the geese and he's fine. I'm scared to try it in a training situation with quail again. As I want him to be comfortable with the quail. I think he is still trying to figure the quail out.

I see what you are saying about using whoa too early and I think I read this earlier in this thread or in another thread that you made a post on. So, I have been diligently trying not to do this.

The last two time we went (we usually go once a week to the hunt club to train with quail), we let him off the check cord like you are suggesting and just let him go. He would find the birds without any problem what so ever. He would get close to them and then turn away from them. We would say good boy and he would go back to them. I then held him around the chest and would stroke his back saying good boy while the other guy with flush the bird. We'd let him chase and fire the pistol, let him chase some more and then get him and repeat this. He keeps chasing after the pistol is fired so we are making progress with this.

Maybe we should try taking the cardboard off the quail like you say and letting him bump them so they fly away naturally. We try to refrain from saying much in the way of commands to Chance. So, we are doing a modified version of what you are suggesting. I by no means thought we would already be this far in a little over 30 days and I'm very happy about it. I don't want to rush Chance. I just want him to not blink on the birds, but maybe this will come naturally if we let him bump some birds.

While I have your attention I wanted to get your advice about the retrieving part. I have a dead, frozen quail that I've been using to practice the retrieval process. I plant the birds, bring chance onto it, whoa him and then throw the bird. After it lands I say free fetch and he'll get it (all done on a 25 ft check cord) and loves running around with it. He won't bring it back to me though. He gets very possessive of it and I gently real him in saying bring it here. When he gets to me I say good boy and stroke his back and let me keep it in his mouth for a minute or so all the while saying good boy. He is making a low growling noise the whole time and I can gently grap it and say free and he'll give it to me. I guess the question is how do I get him to go get it and bring it back to my hand? I think the next step in the field after he is broke to the gun is to shoot birds over him and if he won't bring them back, then that's a problem....So what are your thoughts/tips? I've read about force training a day to retrieve, but not sure if this is the best way to go about it?

Thanks again you have been most helpful!

Nick
 

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Nick

Force training to retrieve is for dogs that don't retrieve, and some people train every dog to force retrieve. It's not a nice process.

Chance doesn't seem to have problems retrieving. I think it's just a case of the bird being so new and enticing to him.
If he's giving it back on command you're pretty well off. I think it's just a matter of time, and work with the "live" dead bird.
Kep working him on the dead birds, but change your approach slightly. Let him see you throw it, and then send him for the retrieve. If you're going to plant the birds, as you are now, try to begin to teach him to "hunt dead". Drag the bird along the ground tied to a string to leave some scent, and then bring him into the area to pick up the scent and "hunt dead". Let him "retrieve" the dead bird that he hunted dead.
Keep his mind engaged. He sounds like a thinking dog,an d he needs the game "upped" a little bit to provide him with new things.
 

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Thanks Gunnr,

I know the force retrieve training is not a nice thing. I was hoping to avoid it at all cost.

I will try stepping up my game and the suggestions you gave me and go from there.

I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again!

Nick
 
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