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Discussion Starter #1
My male V is a year old now. We've been going to a group gundog training class for about 6 months now and he's picking up some useful things there.

I visited a different trainer last week as I felt he really needed pushing on and I needed some help!

She said to me that he is hunting well (I assume she means going over the ground?!) but he's not doing it WITH me and suggested an exercise.

Whenever we walk in a field, don't go in a straight line or round the field, walk slowly in different directions but always with my back to him. As soon as he runs past me, turn around and go into a different direction. This is all fine and we're getting the hang of it.

The bit I am stuck on is what is the final objective?!! After about 15 mins he eventually falls into place by my side and I give a 'good boy' he then goes off again. I think this is the start of teaching him to quarter and then bring in the whistle for direction but not sure.

Anyone used this method before? Any tips?!
 

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I'm here to listen...
This is exactly the reason our dog is in training right now, instead of at a doggie day care.
 

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Chestersmum

I'm going to make some assumptions here.
Firstly, Chester must already be moving in a forward direction. What this means is that Chester is in front of you most of the time. Having the dog circle behind you while hunting is non productive.
I believe that what she is trying to get Chester to do is to pay more attention to you and your direction, hence she's using his natural forward motion to bring him back into the game. I too use this method and play "hide and seek" with the dogs to get them to pay attention.

"Quartering". Pointers are not exactly quartering dogs. They do it well though. What will eventually happen is that Chester will split the field,work the edges, and when productive scent is encountered he'll quarter that area and work it. He'll then start to move in "blocks". These blocks can be a couple acres in size sometimes, and he'll move quick through them.

Given a little more time, experience, and exposure, Chester will be able to get the whistle signal from you and change direction in the field with either hand or whistle signals, without bringing him back to the heel.
It's like having a "Game Boy" hooked to your dog. This is where your trainer is positioning you and Chester to be in a few months.
 

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That's really interesting - we've done a similar exercise with our trainer but not for any hunting reason, just to make the dogs pay more attention to their people.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Gunnr - really useful info. I did think it probably wasn't very productive to hunt behind me!

I've got 3 weeks before we have another session with her so wanted to get some progress in the time. We also have some heelwork to work on also!

Shall I be looking out for when he effectively 'joins up' with me and is in front but not too far or continue with him always behind me until we move on a bit more? I want to make sure I'm not changing the goalposts for him otherwise we're both going to get confused!
 

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I'm having the same experience. Copper is like lightning in the woods and field when we first get out of the truck. He can run through the woods at 50 MPH and not even slow down when picking up a scent and change direction! I find that mentally I can't keep up. Some times I just don't know what he is doing. Maybe they just need to run to get tired then calm down and eventually slow the pace. ??? I find myself calling him back with the collar when he gets out of sight.
 

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Hi Gemma,

So when you are walking in a direction and Chester is behind you, if he goes in front do you then ignore him and change direction?
So is he meant to get to a point where he is hunting beside you as you walk?
 

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ChestersMum

It appears that the trainer sees the lack of attention as Chester's weak area right now to be addressed. She is also right that Chester has not included you yet as a hunting partner,a nd this is where she is taking you.
Vizslas don't need to be "trained to hunt". They'll do that right out of the box all on their own. What they need to be trained to do is hunt with their owner/handler.
For me to be succesful I know that I have to "check my ego at the door". Gunnr and Tika don't need me to hunt. I need them. Everything is about getting them to respond to me as a partner, if you will.

Once Chester is paying attention to you, then you can start to mix it up a bit and keep him in front for a period of time until he begins to not pay attention, then do a 180 on him and do as the trainer instructed.
Focus on what she is telling you though, because she is the one that has seen what Chester is doing.
 

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BamBam said:
Hi Gemma,

So when you are walking in a direction and Chester is behind you, if he goes in front do you then ignore him and change direction?
So is he meant to get to a point where he is hunting beside you as you walk?
BamBam

They don't hunt beside you at the heel per se. What the trainer appears to be trying to accomplish is to get Chester to maintain his awareness of where his handler is at and to respond to their position.
In time Chester will work and keep track of the handler, moving in their general direction without constant input from the handler. It takes time.
 

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Is this exercise useful for all hunting Vs? Pumpkin will run ahead, but she is never too far. She is a "checker." While she runs ahead and is doing her thing, she is always checking to see where the human is. If its in a different direction or what she perceives as distant (never out of eye sight), she is right back to me. Not at a heel position though.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We tried this exercise again this morning for about half an hour and I did notice an small increase in the times he would be nearer to me. As you said Gunnr, I did take the opportunity to keep moving forward if I thought he was close enough and paying attention (there weren't many of these times!). The trainer also said to try and walk into the wind as this is what he's be doing to pick up on a scent?

We have 3 weeks until we see the trainer again so I'd be interested to see how he has progressed as I'd hope to see some change within that time.

Kelly - Chester is a 'checker' also and has luckily never gone too far away from me but he's just reached a year old and I think that could slip so glad we're working on this now. I also find it really interesting to train and think in a slightly different way.
 

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kellygh said:
Is this exercise useful for all hunting Vs? Pumpkin will run ahead, but she is never too far. She is a "checker." While she runs ahead and is doing her thing, she is always checking to see where the human is. If its in a different direction or what she perceives as distant (never out of eye sight), she is right back to me. Not at a heel position though.
Kellygh

Yes it is. In fact it's good for all Vizslas and pointing dogs of any breed, regardless of whether they hunt, or not.

For me the goal is to get the dog off the leash as soon as possible, and let them go. In essence this is when the real training begins. Watching these dogs fly through the woods is really cool.
 

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Thanks Gunnr & Chestersmum! I will try this. I'll have to check back & make sure I am doing this correctly. Appreciate this thread.
 

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What would be a good distance to target for upland hunts? Line of sight? 1/4 mile? How would terrain effect this? I guessing we need to get to the point as a team where there is some level of understanding. Do some folks feel more comfortable with a time frame for checking in? I know we need to let these dogs hunt too. :)
 

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There are no rules etched in stone for either distance, or time. Much depends on the terrain, forest growth density of the huntind area and the experience of the dog and the handler.
The only critical distance for hunting is that the bird needs to be within shotgun range to bring it down.
Once you have established a rapport with your dog, the "checking in" sort of ceases to happen. The dog can check in from 10 yards out, or 100yards out and it's the same thing. Once I let them go, I rarely intefere with them other than to change their direction, or adjust their range. I almost never bring them back to the heel, or all the way to me unless something unsafe appears to be going on, or they get too close to the boundries of a hunt area.

I know a lot of this sounds difficult, or seems as if it will take more training than it's worth, or you need to be an expert trainer, but the reality is that it actually starts to happen naturally.
The more time you spend afield with your dog, the more it will learn you also and adjust itself with less and less correction as time goes on.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is to have enough faith and confidence in the dog to truly let it go.
You have to meet the dog half way.
 

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So I tried this exercise to my understanding, and it seemed to go well? Pumpkin always came back with a change of direction (no recall command) 3/4 of the time she would come back just by turning my back but not moving forward. It is the 1st time, yikes ::), that I've really been cognizant of how Pumpkin rolls. She is never behind me, frequently moves in a zig-zag pattern, and circles only when she's on a scent. If anything, this exercise is helping me be more aware. I sometimes have a tendency to just blank & enjoy no screaming kids in the background :) She has been introduced to the whistle, and I'm wondering how y'all introduce change of direction whistles &/or hand signals? I use 3 short blasts for come. We are not there yet, but I was just curious. If the goal is to have the dog more intune with the handler, how will I know we have accomplished that? Hope that is not a silly question.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I thought this might be interesting to video our progress today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsyKXOhGkNs

Apologies you can hear my keys and whistle 'jangling' the whole way through and it's in some weird portrait format!

For the purposes of this I kept the distance he was out in front of me really short. We can build to longer distances. Where you just see me walking, he is behind me then usually runs past, we walk forward for a bit until he's too far ahead then I turn in a different direction. Not sure if this is good or bad progress but interesting none the less.

We'd been walking like for about 40 mins and he spotted a bird. Video of him 'stalking' it. Thought it was interesting how he looked behind several times (I assume to check I was there) which I think he may not have usually done had we have not completed the other exercise first. I may be wrong ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc702Dqq9g4
 

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The first video shows me that Chester likes to lead, which is good. He just assumes that you will follow. Once he realizes that it's you that sets the direction, but that he's still allowed to lead, he'll be fine.
If your end goal is to hunt Chester, you may want to eventually consider giving him more input into the direction. He has the nose.
To be successful, I set the general over all direction, but follow the dogs as I move.

The second video shows me that he is well on his way. That's a natural hunting dog you got there. I don't see many big problems with him in the future. Most dogs his age would have broke to the first movement from that bird and chased it.
When he kept looking back, which would be a fault in a test, he was looking for input and direction from you. As the bird was moving he relocated, also a fault, but at his young age completely understandable, because he got no direction and had to trust his own instincts.
Should that excellent opportunity present itself again, in a low gentle voice, barely audible, tell Chester "easy, easy, whoa.....", and keep saying it as you move closer to him. Give him some more gentle voice "whoa,,, stay,,, good boy,,, good boy". If you can right up to him, before the bird flys, very gently stroke his topline and style up the tail, move that foreleg up into a classic pointing pose,a nd when the bird finally flies off try to gently restrain him for a few moments, and then let him go to rework the bird.
Get him to stay locked on point, moving only the direction of his muzzle as that bird moves around.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Chester knows what he's doing - it's just the human who needs to catch up!

We haven't really done any practice around birds. We are always walking by the canal where there are lots so he is slightly desensitised to them and their movement but will always stalk/point if the opportunity arises.

Thanks for the extra advice Gunnr. I have always wondered what to do to support/direct him on those scenarios. I tend to just stand and watch .. doh!

I find it fascinating watching what he can do naturally and what he needs to learn and I like having something for us both to work on. Watch this space :)
 

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Enjoyed the videos Chestersmum! Thank you for posting them. I am a visual learner, and I found them interesting.

Gunnr-The times that we have had Pumpkin on quail, she will do a "classic point," & not move when we move close to her. I have stood by her (literally) pointing on top of a quail for well over 5m; however, if she is pointing on a bird, like Chester, she will glance to do a human check. She does this just out running ahead like in the video. When she is pointing on a bird, if I am close enough, she doesn't move her head, but she definitely checks with her eyes. Since I don't know what I'm doing, I have never given direction. How do you start introducing direction changes, hand signals &/or whistle, or otherwise provide direction in a pointing situation? I know diving in on a bird is a no-no, so I discourage the bird chase (lots of times just tweets) if she has been pointing them. Is that a no-no? Should I allow her to chase if she has waited for me to release her? We are still working on the release/total whoa thing. I just don't want to inadvertently encourage bad habits during play that aren't allowed in the hunt Field or hunt tests. I did not know checking was a fault until now ??? Thanks Chestrsmum & Gunnr. Y'all are helping me yet again!
 
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