Versatile Dog Training Program

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby molliesmaster » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:03 am

Good afternoon all,

New to the forum here and I am seeking some information. I am looking for a program to follow for the versatile dog. I am not a part of a navhda chapter as of yet, and I'm not 100% sure I could commit to one being that the chapter closest is still very far away. Back to the point at hand, I have a 13 week old GWP who I would like to train for upland hunting and waterfowl retrieving. Just looking for a program that will cater to both of these and not one or the other.

Thanks again.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby molliesmaster » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:30 am

Well, I was unaware that this would take so long to post. Over the past week, I have ordered Navhda's green book, George Hickox Great beginnings and Hann's Perfect start/Perfect finish. I hope this will be enough material to get me started. Of course, I always welcome recommendations for more material.

Thanks
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:53 am

I own all three of the materials you have purchased. I use the Perfect Start, Perfect Finish, Perfect Retrieve - series the most. The clicker treat training introductions shown in Hickox DVDs have excellent merit.

I have trained my personal hunting dogs for decades but this current pup was my first use of the marker treat approach to OB. I will get smarter and make more use of it in the future.

I find the Green Book very dated and make very little use of the methods outlined there. As mentioned I use all the Perfect xxx DVDs series and find them excellent. But they do not cover water work. I have read alot of books along the way and just use some simple approaches I have picked up along the way for water work. Once the pup is introduced to water and loving retrieving it is just a matter of applying OB trained on land to the water work. I introduce decoy spreads and retrieving through them on my small puppy pond, introduce my small marsh boats sitting in them, retrieving in and out of them, introduce my Avery Marsh Platform first on land - getting up on it, staying steady, going for retrieves and returning to the platform - all on land first and then on water, down the road I start teaching some simple blind retrieve handling skills using the approach I posted in MissKiwi's post in the last week.

I place a fast grass simulated blind on the bank of my puppy pond, small decoy spread in the water, wife on the back side of the pond dam. I place the puppy on sit stay command, blow duck call, have the wife throw dead pigeons over the dam and I shoot blanks. Make the pup hold steady until I send them to retrieve.

I also do a bunch of hunting dead conditioning with my puppies starting as babies - throwing treats in the short grass at first - waving my hand flat to the ground in that direction and saying "dead" as the puppy dive for it. Then I do the same but toss it while the puppy is not looking. They will then use their nose to find it. Then as they get a little older - I use bumpers and or dead birds on our daily walks in game cover. Toss them while walking and when we pass back by I will call the pup and command it to hunt dead. I will also occasionally fire a blank while the pup is out hunting and do the same when it returns. It conditions the puppy to hunt dead and to associate gunfire with hunting dead. Note this is not how I introduce gunfire and I do the drills just mentioned after proper Gunfire introductions elsewhere.

We hunt doves first and then Teal as those are the seasons that open first. With the basics I outline quickly here, my pups have been prepared to do well and love their jobs. The teal seasons are wonderful opportunities to start puppies as the weather is warm, teal are forgiving as to movement and being hidden, lots of cover around. I will take dead pigeons on all the pup's early duck hunts to ensure I can give them some training drills should the action be slow. And of course once a fresh duck is brought to bag we will work some drills if the action is slow.

I placed straw bales parallel to my Machine Shed wall to create a 30 yard long tunnel and introduced my puppy to retrieving in the tunnel. I have them drag a light still homemade check cord and small homemade retrieving bumpers made from a toilet paper roll wrapped in duct tape. It build the correct out and back to me behavior as that is the only way the puppy can go in the tunnel. We move to the exterior later and the check cord allows me to get my foot on it and gently reel the puppy in to me when some "keep away" behavior inevitably shows up ...

Cannot cover it all here but those are some thoughts. I tried to touch on some important things I do that are not in any commercial training materials I have run across. The Perfect XXX series will give you excellent materials for your upland work. There are many better sources for Clicker/Marker/Treat training for OB work - Google/Utube. Good luck - Have Fun.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby orhunter » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:08 am

One thing I noticed about Average Guy's post is his concentration on the fetch. Good man, listen to him. One thing you don't want to get wrapped up in is the urgency of getting the pup into more serious training with birds and pointing. Far more important to give the pup opportunity to grow and mature before going for the serious stuff. When they're ready, you'll know it. They will already have been pointing wild birds that you encounter during exposure times and actual hunting. Don't drink the Kool Aid that says you have to spoon feed your pup everything it knows or should know. If you have a good dog, we all do, most of it will come naturally if you do your part to provide opportunity. I commend you on not getting involved with the local NAVHDA chapter which is an advocate of the spoon feeding method.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:23 am

You can reinforce fetch at any time; build independence early. On ALL pups I concentrate on unrestricted range, independence, and BIRDS early. They ALWAYS drag a short CC so I can catch them, even in the house. Teaching is very informal; walking them around the yard and teaching them to not go on roads, teaching them to come when called, etc. but ALL with NO pressure. I'm not big on letting them chase birds, I feel it teaches nothing. They will handle a thousand clip wings growing up and that gets them birdy enough. Later, at whatever age I deem is correct, I'll add FF and formal obedience, introducing the collar then. On MOST pups this will be between 10-12 months old. Until they go on the collar, which they start wearing at 6 months, they are NEVER off a CC.

I think building a great bird dog is sort of graceful dance. Sidestep here, weave there, add what you want, subtract what you must all of the while trying to get pup to think he is learning on his own. We give the opportunity and environment to learn, the pup takes the information and hopefully processes it correctly.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:24 am

Following on Orhunter's post.

I take my puppies on walks in natural cover where they can encounter wild game daily. We work the various OB drills gently using PR daily as well but the time spent just letting the puppy run and explore in natural cover FAR EXCEEDS the short bursts of OB work we are also doing in parallel.

Letting the puppy develop its search, use of nose, pointing, tracking ... talents in the field does not get enough mention in commercial training materials but is critical. And FUN!
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby J D Patrick » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:35 am

AverageGuy wrote:Following on Orhunter's post.

I take my puppies on walks in natural cover where they can encounter wild game daily. We work the various OB drills gently using PR daily as well but the time spent just letting the puppy run and explore in natural cover FAR EXCEEDS the short bursts of OB work we are also doing in parallel.

Letting the puppy develop its search, use of nose, pointing, tracking ... talents in the field does not get enough mention in commercial training materials but is critical. And FUN!



that's the way I am rolling with my pup,,,,mostly letting her learn and explore while getting exposure to so very much (terrain, vegetation, smells, critters, etc),,,,work obedience while doing it at times,,,every once in a while throwing in a planted bird (since we have so few wild quail),,,,,

could mess her up since I've only ever worked hounds, beagles, and labs before,,,,but from what I can tell from all the reading I have done and the answers from folks who put up with my questions, this is what I am doing,,,,so far so good,,,,
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby Misskiwi67 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:21 pm

The only thing I have to add to the excellent advice above is introducing tracking early - before they have a confident field search.

This is easy to start at any age, with treats in the yard like AverageGuys hunt dead technique, but then add some tracking. When I point to the ground I want my pup to know there's something there and to develop the focus to follow. I then encourage pup to investigate anything I find in the field that might leave a track - rabbits, pheasants, even voles.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby Sooty42 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:38 pm

As a handler how do you react when a young pup starts pointing things (I.e. Squirrels, tweety birds, etc.)? Do you praise them? Just let them hold the point as long as they want to? Do you try to simulate hunting and flush the animal?
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:54 pm

I don't teach tracking. I want to keep their nose in the air as long as possible. A V dog, all V dog's, track naturally and they track everything. Hardest thing is to keep their nose in the air so they hunt the wind instead of the ground.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby molliesmaster » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:57 pm

I appreciate all the replies. The more research I do, the more it appears that everyone has a different approach to the same goal. I figured getting a few different resources would help me when things stalemated in training, offer me a different approach or perspective on a certain task.

I should have also added that I belong to the cornerstone gundog academy training program, Barton Ramsey's Southern Oak Kennel system. Days and days of retriever material in there, and tons of clicker training available.


As for the dog, I really think she has all of the ability to do things I want her to do. Figured as long as she will come when called and whoa when she needs to whoa, the rest is all there as long as I don't screw up.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby Misskiwi67 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:42 pm

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I don't teach tracking. I want to keep their nose in the air as long as possible. A V dog, all V dog's, track naturally and they track everything. Hardest thing is to keep their nose in the air so they hunt the wind instead of the ground.


A good dog puts their nose where the scent is. My Arabella is a tracking phenom - still hunts pheasants with her nose in the air.

That's like saying teaching sit makes dogs sit on point. It just ain't so!!
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:27 pm

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:You can reinforce fetch at any time;


I have never missed out on using the early development techniques I outlined for "Hunt Dead" and Play Retrieve conditioning. And I never will.

My dogs are consistently the ones that get called over to recover downed birds when other dogs have given up. Using the approach I outlined has zero downside or ill effects on developing an independent search, so every reason to do it and none not to.

Check out the post I put up of my dog retrieving Grouse a couple of days ago or the 3rd Hun in my Triple, or the recovered Live cripple shot from that trip the week before. Happy, highly effective dog is what you will see ...
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:14 pm

AverageGuy wrote:
GONEHUNTIN' wrote:You can reinforce fetch at any time;


I have never missed out on using the early development techniques I outlined for "Hunt Dead" and Play Retrieve conditioning. And I never will.

My dogs are consistently the ones that get called over to recover downed birds when other dogs have given up. Using the approach I outlined has zero downside or ill effects on developing an independent search, so every reason to do it and none not to.

Check out the post I put up of my dog retrieving Grouse a couple of days ago or the 3rd Hun in my Triple, or the recovered Live cripple shot from that trip the week before. Happy, highly effective dog is what you will see ...


I'm talking about a formal FF program, not early development.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Versatile Dog Training Program

Postby KJ » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:14 am

I would highly recommend Chuck Johnson's "Training the Versatile Gun Dog" or Joan Bailey's "How to Help Gundogs Train Themselves". Both book are pretty similar in their approach and a great for walking a new versatile dog owner through the first the first year of the dog's life, which is critically important.
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