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More training or more experience?


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mikegillam

So I took my 16 mo Griffon to Michigan looking for some birds. While he did hunt (more exposure than hunt) last year, I am counting this as his first real hunt year. He had 3 solid points on WC in which I flushed and shot 2. However, over the course of the couple of mornings that we hunted he also busted a grouse and another 1/2 dozen WC. On a few of the birds, I was able to watch him working a bird (trailing?) only to have the bird flush 10-20 feet in front of him. That would have been fine if I still had a lab….is this a hole (s) in my training (more launcher work) or is stopping/pointing from a distance more of a learned behavior by more experience on wild birds? Still trying to figure out the pointy dog stuff.

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What I’ve always been told when they bust a bird, catch them and set them

back a little. Make them stand and replicate the flushing motion, go back and pet a bit, release and move on.

 

Does the pup chase the flushed birds? That needs to be stopped, no fun for birds they put up. Just enough juice to stop them if they chase, kind of roll pup to a stop.  I trained this in the field with pigeons, then applied to wild birds.

 If you have a shooter with you, handle the dog, only shoot pointed birds or birds put up that the dog has nothing to do with. No rewarding poor dog work.

Wild birds are a different game and the pup will get more excited over them, expect mistakes. If your looking for a solid pointing dog, you need to train on wild birds and make appropriate corrections.

 

He sounds like he’s coming along nicely, the busted grouse is to be expected. Trailing a bird and putting it up will happen, if he was cautious, not a big deal. If he knew the bird was there and charged in and put it up, that needs fixing.

 

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VizslavsBird

16 months is still a puppy.  Personally I want my dogs on lots of wild birds before I worry about their perfect performance.

 

Be fair with your expectations and any corrections.

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Ray Gubernat

My answer to you is BOTH.   As mentioned before, your dog is still very much a puppy and trying to figure out just what it is supposed to be doing out there.  

 

I also agree that busted birds will teach the dog respect, if you discourage chase and, when the opportunity presents itself, set the dog up on "point" in the field after a bust and flush.   Put the gun down and stroke and style the dog for several minutes, right there in the field.  Let the dog know that what he is now doing is what you WANTED him to do.  Be gentle and encouraging, but persistent and insistent.  

 

The most difficult thing for the one dog owner is knowing when to quit.   In a training scenario, I ALWAYS try to quit a winner.   If the dog does it perfectly, the very first time out of the box... I will generally stop the training session, style and stroke the dog and put it up for a few minutes, or go and do something else with the dog.  That is hard to do when hunting, but the principle still applies and you need to watch for your oopportunities to quit a winner.  If that means walking the dog at heel or on a lead, out of the field and sitting by the truck being pals with your dog, so be it.   It is harder to do this when we are hunting, becasue WE want to hunt.  I do get it.  But as a trainer, you need to keep that in your mind.  You are training the dog first and hunting second.  

 

Do not be in a rush.  Take things at the DOG'S pace... not yours.  We all want to see that perfect performance and we want to see it again and again...but dogs are not machines and puppies and derbies will do the darndest things sometimes.   Be willing to stop in the field, gather up the dog and just chill out with him for a few minutes, letting the dog know you are happy with him.    Sometimes that short break can make all the difference.

 

Always remember that  what you are doing now is laying the foundation for ten or twelve years of partnership afield.  Take the time to let the dog learn.  That means... sometimes, to let the dog make mistakes and then deal with it.  Dogs and humans learn by doing.  We learn what not to do when we do something and it don't work out so good.  We learn to avoid doing that in the future. It has been said that we learn nothing new from successful experiments, and the failure of the experiment causes us to tweak the  experiment or change our approach.   

 

It is the same with dogs.  They learn  that to hunt in a certain way for certain birds in certain covers doesn't work so well, becasue the bird bails out on them nd it is NO JOY.  They change their tactics until they find something that works.  Sometimes we can help them, but sometimes, it is best to stand back and let the dog's gentics go to work.  if you are watching, you will know it when the light comes on.  That moment is worth all that it took to get there, for me anyway.

 

The most powerful hunting drive in a bird dog is the desire to wrap its gums around a bird.   If you structure your training with this reward in mind, that will go  long way toward developing your dog into the kind of hunting partner you can depend on.  

 

Take your time, enjoy your dog and have fun.  It is a journey so enjoy the journey.

 

RayG

 

 

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13 hours ago, mikegillam said:

So I took my 16 mo Griffon to Michigan looking for some birds. While he did hunt (more exposure than hunt) last year, I am counting this as his first real hunt year. He had 3 solid points on WC in which I flushed and shot 2. However, over the course of the couple of mornings that we hunted he also busted a grouse and another 1/2 dozen WC. On a few of the birds, I was able to watch him working a bird (trailing?) only to have the bird flush 10-20 feet in front of him. That would have been fine if I still had a lab….is this a hole (s) in my training (more launcher work) or is stopping/pointing from a distance more of a learned behavior by more experience on wild birds? Still trying to figure out the pointy dog stuff.

Basically same answer as you were given in the Versatile forum and by the way I'm a fellow NAVHDA handler like you. It's not a hole in your training because you haven't completed steadiness work and hunting season is not the time to do it. This is his first hunting season and now you want to let the birds teach and the pup learn from them during hunting season. Mistakes are good, they will help teach. Don't be in a hurry to shoot birds but be ready to do so if the young dog holds point. Don't worry if it breaks on the flush, you haven't completed steadiness so the pup can't be expected to hold beyond the flush but if it does great.

 

After hunting season you can go back and complete steadiness- which the foundation to steadiness begins on the training table and without birds.  This is the also the time where you will do things like set the dog back if it breaks (and overlay stim as you do.) As the dog advances through this steadiness work, birds- thrown pigeons- will be introduced. And you should progress from on and off the table with a lead, to without a lead (for the e-collar conditioned dog)  also add in blank gunfire both with and without birds. Then to the field where you can do stop to flush drills with thrown pigeons and also put pigeons in launchers and carry chukars to shoot. If the dog points and holds for the launch of a pigeon then throw a chukar to shoot (if you're using "kill pigeons" and not homers then just shoot the pigeon.) Once the dog is reliable there you can begin planing chukars directly on the ground nut you want to be sure the dog has been pretty reliable and that you can get it stopped (with the e-collar) if it breaks.  At each new stage the dog is likely to break and you will get a correction. Corrections help teach and reinforce. Do not use the e-collar now during hunting season if it breaks.

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WMassGriff
1 hour ago, Ray Gubernat said:

The most powerful hunting drive in a bird dog is the desire to wrap its gums around a bird.   If you structure your training with this reward in mind, that will go  long way toward developing your dog into the kind of hunting partner you can depend on.  

This.

My Griff took until he was 2.5yrs to be steady to flush/wing. Shot came a little later. Lots of pigeons and planted chukar to get to that point.

Wild birds...still bumps a few especially after hunting Pheasant!

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Some young dogs take a while to figure out Woodcock while other dogs of the same age seem to figure them out in a nanosecond.  I think just more bird contacts will help a lot.   I wouldn't be do concerned about a young dog bumping a bird.  Now a young dog that briefly points them and then decides to bust them is a totally different story.  Those situations need to be corrected asap with the dog being brought back to where the rip occurred each and every time imo. 

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1 hour ago, Ray Gubernat said:

The most powerful hunting drive in a bird dog is the desire to wrap its gums around a bird.   If you structure your training with this reward in mind, that will go  long way toward developing your dog into the kind of hunting partner you can depend on.  

 

Take your time, enjoy your dog and have fun.  It is a journey so enjoy the journey.

 

RayG

 

 

Yes and when trained my second GWP this guided my formal training sequence. After her first hunting season I force fetched her. Later when I formally did steadiness the reward of a retrieve of a real bird was a motivating factor for her. I did this by ending the early foundation sessions for steadiness by tossing a couple dead birds for her to retrieve and since she was force fetched it automatically helped reinforce good retrieves and deliveries too. A trained retrieve first can really aid your steadiness work.

 

From a NAVHDA training standpoint I did this sequence: After first hunting season Force Fetch. After she was force fetched we spent the summer of year 2 building a great duck search (and clean retrieves and deliveries were expected). And then finally I added steadiness on birds as the "last" step. 

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mikegillam

Thanks for all of the replies. I was not unhappy with his performance, it was kind of what I expected, just wanted to make sure my thinking was not out in left field. With a few more trips to Michigan and more bird contacts, things should continue to progress (on the whole).

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