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Updated - Solo Springer pup training questions and updates..


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NJ_Springer

My Springer pup is now 10 months old. I have a  50’ x 10’ concrete yard. I just now have access to fields 40 minutes from my home that I can use to train and run her. The closest springer/cocker/flushing dog trainer is 3 1/2 hours away. For some reason in South Jersey everyone hunts pointers, in my hunting circle of 85 guys I’m the only one with a flushing dog. The trainer that helped with my prior springer moved out of the area.

 

Looking for any advice to train her on my own. I’ve been working on basic commands and retrieves. Plan on working on quartering and longer retrieves once I start taking her to the fields. I don’t have a place that I can keep pigeons. Come end of September I’ll have access to chukars.  When able I’ll make the 3 1/2 hour trek to the trainer. 

 

Any help and guidance is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Hal Standish

When reading this I had to chuckle just a bit when i started in 1976 I acquire a pup from a FBESS breeder 6 hour s away. I made the trip once a month for 3 yrs That was 12 hours round trip.

Oh how I wished it was only 3.5 hours like your situation However that does address your current situation. I have started trained and finished many spaniels by lonesome.

What I would do is read this thread concerning place board training...

Place board training came on the Spaniel scene somewhere in the 1990's and whether it is a system for spaniels or retrieves, as Irishwhistler demonstrate it is by far the best way for the lonesome trainer to develop working flushing retrieving dog. Some mention of the Oppenshaw/Rytex system is made ,Ian's success is legendary in the UK, the program is a hybred system that works for him and others. I learn the system from basically the USA originator Jim Dobbs. I have done every thing using the place boards for Introduction to the here command, the Hup command, retrieving, birds,guns, and steady to wing and shot. There is a plethora of information of the use of the boards on YouTube. One could quite honestly become a place board guru just watching YouTube. Learn all you can about the boards and their use it will give you and your a dog a real chance of building something special together.

 

Hal

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NJ_Springer
7 hours ago, Hal Standish said:

When reading this I had to chuckle just a bit when i started in 1976 I acquire a pup from a FBESS breeder 6 hour s away. I made the trip once a month for 3 yrs That was 12 hours round trip.

Oh how I wished it was only 3.5 hours like your situation However that does address your current situation. I have started trained and finished many spaniels by lonesome.

What I would do is read this thread concerning place board training...

Place board training came on the Spaniel scene somewhere in the 1990's and whether it is a system for spaniels or retrieves, as Irishwhistler demonstrate it is by far the best way for the lonesome trainer to develop working flushing retrieving dog. Some mention of the Oppenshaw/Rytex system is made ,Ian's success is legendary in the UK, the program is a hybred system that works for him and others. I learn the system from basically the USA originator Jim Dobbs. I have done every thing using the place boards for Introduction to the here command, the Hup command, retrieving, birds,guns, and steady to wing and shot. There is a plethora of information of the use of the boards on YouTube. One could quite honestly become a place board guru just watching YouTube. Learn all you can about the boards and their use it will give you and your a dog a real chance of building something special together.

 

Hal

Thanks Hal for your input. When I trained  my last Springer place boards were not in vogue, by me anyway. I will look into it it

Thanks!

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What are you looking for from your dog? By that I mean  totally finished, field trial competitor. A usable hunter that you hunt by yourself. Some place between those extremes? Also is your pup from field bred hunting lines or from a less specific hunting ancestry? I am a total amateur as a trainer in every way. I have though trained five, working on number six Springers to be my personal gun dogs. Yard train, yard train, yard train. Expose to birds as much as possible in your situation and also time in the fields or woods as often as possible. 

If a personal gun dog that you will hunt by itself is what you are looking for basic commands, basic skills and patience will produce that especially in a field bred dog. Also love the pup up. She'll then do anything for you with some instruction and time. If you want more from her it will just take longer. Your situation is more challenging than anything I have faced but if I could learn I'm sure you can. I started with Ken Roebuck's book and a Springer pup thirty years ago. Look for ways to make it work within your circumstances. The advice of others here as you have received already who really know what they are doing will be of great help. Just some encouragement from a long time back yard trainer. Good genes, basics down flat and time in the woods or fields. All else can come as you go. Good luck.

 

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NJ_Springer
4 hours ago, RMH said:

What are you looking for from your dog? By that I mean  totally finished, field trial competitor. A usable hunter that you hunt by yourself. Some place between those extremes? Also is your pup from field bred hunting lines or from a less specific hunting ancestry? I am a total amateur as a trainer in every way. I have though trained five, working on number six Springers to be my personal gun dogs. Yard train, yard train, yard train. Expose to birds as much as possible in your situation and also time in the fields or woods as often as possible. 

If a personal gun dog that you will hunt by itself is what you are looking for basic commands, basic skills and patience will produce that especially in a field bred dog. Also love the pup up. She'll then do anything for you with some instruction and time. If you want more from her it will just take longer. Your situation is more challenging than anything I have faced but if I could learn I'm sure you can. I started with Ken Roebuck's book and a Springer pup thirty years ago. Look for ways to make it work within your circumstances. The advice of others here as you have received already who really know what they are doing will be of great help. Just some encouragement from a long time back yard trainer. Good genes, basics down flat and time in the woods or fields. All else can come as you go. Good luck.

 

Thanks for your input and great advice.

 

Yes she’s field bred with a solid combo of field trial champions,  including Salmy’s Zorro and Sunrise Zinger, and hunting lines. From the times I’ve had her out she has a lot of noticeable innate birdiness and ability, and natural talent more so than my prior springer, who was a phenomenal hunting dog. She’s absolutely loved and very loyal. She has an extreme desire to please which definitely helps.

 

I would like to get her to the point I had my prior springer, steady to wing and shot, blind retrieves, hand and whistle commands etc.. She will be my hunting partner, mostly me and her, and other times with my son and cousin also. I likely will not be able to get her bird exposure until near the end of September. I’m working on trying to work something out sooner regarding birds. I’m contacting the pointer trainers near me to work things out regarding birds etc..

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I'm familiar with Salmy's Zorro and I've seen some of the stuff that was thrown by him.  Since you pup goes back to Zorro, he/she should be a natural hunter.  Train your pup to do things naturally, if you can rather than relying on a collar.  You have a good pedigree with your pup. Southern N.J. is no man's land for spaniels apparently.  So is my area, but I live in an area with lots of open land to train my cockers.  Place board training is a good start.  Try and find a local municipal park.  Once your dog is fully trained a park with a wooded cut over might help you.  That may be hard to find, but keep your eyes open and be creative.  Also, go to springer trials and learn and make connections.  Good luck.

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I use placeboards and find them to be an exceptional tool for a variety of training situations and an important foundation for more advanced training. However, by themselves they won't get you far. They are simply part of a more comprehensive program. So you really need the whole plan so that you know where you're going.

 

I generally have to train by myself, and I'm also in the situation where the nearest pros are over 3 hours away. Every now and then I'll make the trip to a training group, but there is a lot you can do by yourself. I've mentioned this here before, but I do like Todd Agnew's program for developing spaniels. It's specifically designed to train a finished spaniel in solo fashion because that's the way Todd does it. I don't follow it exactly to the letter, simply because there are a lot of nuances involved that Todd has developed over time. I particularly like some of his philosophy around dog training: more pressure is seldom the answer, give the dog the benefit of the doubt, don't assume a training challenge is the dog's fault, there's no hurry to develop a pup, etc. You can buy his training manual here. It's expensive, but it worth instead of stumbling through training.

 

One more important factor worth adding: every dog is different. Just because a previous dog was trained a certain way doesn't mean it'll work for the next one. Even pups from the same litter will develop in different ways and on a different timeline. Don't let any training resource dictate when it's time to progress with a given training program.

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NJ_Springer
On 6/1/2020 at 12:08 PM, Pat Berry said:

I use placeboards and find them to be an exceptional tool for a variety of training situations and an important foundation for more advanced training. However, by themselves they won't get you far. They are simply part of a more comprehensive program. So you really need the whole plan so that you know where you're going.

 

I generally have to train by myself, and I'm also in the situation where the nearest pros are over 3 hours away. Every now and then I'll make the trip to a training group, but there is a lot you can do by yourself. I've mentioned this here before, but I do like Todd Agnew's program for developing spaniels. It's specifically designed to train a finished spaniel in solo fashion because that's the way Todd does it. I don't follow it exactly to the letter, simply because there are a lot of nuances involved that Todd has developed over time. I particularly like some of his philosophy around dog training: more pressure is seldom the answer, give the dog the benefit of the doubt, don't assume a training challenge is the dog's fault, there's no hurry to develop a pup, etc. You can buy his training manual here. It's expensive, but it worth instead of stumbling through training.

 

One more important factor worth adding: every dog is different. Just because a previous dog was trained a certain way doesn't mean it'll work for the next one. Even pups from the same litter will develop in different ways and on a different timeline. Don't let any training resource dictate when it's time to progress with a given training program.

 

Thanks Pat I bought the manual by Todd Agnew. It’s definitely worth it. I also have Hup by James Spencer I used with my first Springer. I’m basically going to incorporate some of Agnew’s methods into what I learned from working with a trainer and a field trial group with my previous Springer.

 

I put a gate on my backyard/run so now it is fenced in, and is ideal for working with her out back for straight retrieves and basic commands. That fixed the problem of when she would try to run around me on the way back to hand with retrieves. She’s doing well with Hup and recall both to whistle and voice, with and without distractions. She does very well with retrieves.  I’m now beginning to work on hand signals for over and back,.  Agnew has a nice method of teaching that.

 

In February I had her out with a trainer and field trial group and she had her first intro to a cripple pigeon and shotguns. Went as well as I could have expected. She was interested in the bird and retrieved to hand after prancing around in circles showing off her prize lol. She wasn’t bothered by the gunfire.  After things get a little more back to normal I’m going to try to make the 3.5 hour trek back up there once or twice a month.

 

Good part is I now have access to hunting fields 40 minutes from my house. I plan on running her there at least once a week. I may have some access to quail to use for training as well. I’ll start off with a blank gun while she’s a ways away chasing something, since its been a couple moths since gunfire. The times I have had her in the field she has a natural hunting pattern and incredible drive.  Wether out for a walk or in the field the entire time she is focused and consumed on “hunting up” doves, song birds, rabbits and anything else with feathers or fur. 

 

Thanks for the replies and I will keep you guys updated

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  • 2 weeks later...
NJ_Springer

Changed the title of the thread so it’ll be easier to keep updating than start a new thread.

 

Gated in my small backyard which made a huge difference. Now working off-lead for 15-20 minutes daily on basic commands which makes a huge difference. Did the same with my my first Springer which worked great.  Sophie is solid on the Hup and come whistle and command and using her name as a release. 

 

I’m now moving on to teaching over and back from the Hup position facing me, by verbal and hand signals. Issue is she is so solid on her name as a release that she won’t budge on over or back with verbal and hand commands unless I use Sophie as a release. Another words if I say back or over she don’t move.  I don’t think thats a big deal as she follows the hand signals with her name as a release. Interested if any of you guys thinks that may pose a problem 

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Hal Standish

LOL whenever i hear of some teaching over Of what Danny Farmer says about the "Over" command ..If handler uses it in A TRIAL It usually means "It's over, and back to the truck"!

 

Glad to hear your making some progress with Sophie.

 

Hal

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If you have a grooming table or a work bench you can teach hold, give and some of the table-work commands in Todd agnew’s book.

 

there’s a book “ urban gundog” that is sitting on my stack that you also may consider. Maybe others here have actually read it and can let us know what they think.

 

pigeon traps actually work

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NJ_Springer
22 minutes ago, frak said:

If you have a grooming table or a work bench you can teach hold, give and some of the table-work commands in Todd agnew’s book.

 

there’s a book “ urban gundog” that is sitting on my stack that you also may consider. Maybe others here have actually read it and can let us know what they think.

 

pigeon traps actually work

I have a deck box out back that I’m beginning to use for hold and give. No pigeons by me but plenty of seagulls which are a no go

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  • 6 months later...
NJ_Springer

Been awhile since I posted. Been training Sophie entirely solo until just recently. I hooked up with a great pointing dog trainer Jerry Lynch who is in my area.  Extremely knowledgeable guy, and he has trained some flushers over the years.  He is very clear and honest in what he can help with, as pointers are his forte.  Started off using quail and she has been making some good progress.  Been out twice so far with him and it’s been a big help having someone helping out. Great part is he was very happy with the foundation that I’ve instilled in her.

Thanks for all the input and advice from you guys which has greatly helped me build a solid base in Sophie!

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Ray Gubernat

If those pictures are any indication of where your dog's head is at...keep doing what you are doing.  A dog's eyes tell a whole lot about what is going on upstairs.

 

Her eyes, in the first pic, are telling me that she desperately wants to do what you are asking her to do.  

 

THAT is awesome!

 

I am also a pointing dog person, so not much help on that score...but I really like what those pictures are showing.  

 

Have a ball with Sophie.  She looks like a sweetheart.

 

RayG

 

 

 

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