The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:54 am

I was once a licensed Falconer. I see large differences between birds of prey, wolves and domesticated dogs bred for decades/generations for specific traits including cooperation with humans.

PR is a great tool for the conditioning/teaching phase of training. So are well understood and timed corrections during the proofing phase of training. Many trainers are successfully using a combination of both and there is no reason it has to be a 100% of one or the other proposition vs an adaptive combination of the two.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby hicntry » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:37 am

I don't usually have much to say about training today, but, they younguns have either forgot or never knew that specific training methods were used to teach dogs things that were TOTALLY unnatural for a dog.....a lot of circus act like riding a bicycle. Never could have been done without a lot of PR. Then, the less talented trainers realised even they could get a dog trained , or somewhat trained, without needing to posses the knowledge that many trainers posses that makes them bona fide trainers. Use PR for everything and call it training.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby AlaskaMagnum » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:20 pm

PL_Guy wrote:
AlaskaMagnum wrote:...

Modern trainers like the guys at SeaWorld have proven that Operant Conditioning with rewards might even be more powerful than Operant Conditioning with pressure (adding or removing the stimuli to get the desired results)


Depends on the "nature" of the critter being conditioned. I'm told aversive conditioning has limited utility when dealing with prey animals such as horses; those with experience are welcome to pipe up. Marine mammals are distinctly different from the terrestrial predator mammals we're working with. In particular, I believe it is well known, they are especially non-receptive to the use of "aversives" in operant conditioning scenarios. One person who had actual experience working in the field told me they cave in to the pressure of aversives - they "pout and sulk" and training comes to a halt. Dogs, on the other hand, are conditioned to a certain amount of aversive pressure nearly from birth by mom and siblings.

Jere


Jere

I imagine finding a pinch collar that fits a killer whale is tough!

You still across the bay in Homer?
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:36 pm

AlaskaMagnum wrote:
TruAblePup wrote:
AlaskaMagnum wrote:

None of that is accepted as true any longer. Most of that was based upon Mech's studies which were done on unrelated wolves put into a false pack. In his later years, he discounted much of his earlier work. These false packs created unnatural conflict that just does not exist in wild wolf packs.

There is a really cool study where the breeding male let's his pups absolutely terrorize him. He kind of seemed to get a kick out of it, as did the cubs.

Modern trainers like the guys at SeaWorld have proven that Operant Conditioning with rewards might even be more powerful than Operant Conditioning with pressure (adding or removing the stimuli to get the desired results)



I would like to read more about this research. Do you have a source please?

Thanks,

TP


http://www.davemech.org

Also see Karen Pryor and Steve Wilks. If nothing else, it gives you something to think about.

Schutzhund trainers have been using mostly positive methods for a decade now. The scores are higher and the dogs are better for it. The days of burning a dog on a five chip until he vocalizes are over.



I'd say that depends on the dog. There are still pooches out there that only high intensity works on. I mostly agree with that though, just not the blanket statement.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:11 pm

Last clinic I attended there was one hard headed GSP that wanted some high voltage but I never got above a 3 out of 7 on my Pro 550, and was in the 2 range for 95% of the corrections with my dog. Which was the representative case vs the exception across the rest of the dogs. I think the foundation I trained rewarding the desired steadiness behavior via PR under less distraction than a close flushing bird had alot to do with it vs raw differences in the dogs, but of course I can't prove it.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby PL_Guy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:14 pm

AlaskaMagnum wrote:
TruAblePup wrote:...


I would like to read more about this research. Do you have a source please?

Thanks,

TP


http://www.davemech.org

Also see Karen Pryor and Steve Wilks. If nothing else, it gives you something to think about.

Schutzhund trainers have been using mostly positive methods for a decade now. The scores are higher and the dogs are better for it. The days of burning a dog on a five chip until he vocalizes are over.


The Mech site is a veritable treasure trove of references on wolf research. So much so that finding a particular article or a few is sort of a needle in haystack endeavor. Try this one for starters:

http://wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013 ... nglish.pdf

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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby PL_Guy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:24 pm

AlaskaMagnum wrote:...

Jere

I imagine finding a pinch collar that fits a killer whale is tough!

You still across the bay in Homer?


Sure, but fitting an e-collar shouldn't be too much of a challenge should one want to try, eh?

Yes, still across the bay from Homer. Getting to be more like somewhere in PWS or even further south though. Bought a cabin SE of Delta a few years ago while up there watching the migration and working on a setter's working range. We spend a couple of months a year there now fixing the cabin, watching the game, thinking about shooting something and, mostly, escaping the rain.

You're where now, Nebraska?

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So much to learn, So little time!
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby PL_Guy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:33 pm

There's another factor pertinent to the development of a working dog which seems to get very little attention but deserves being remembered. I'm thinking of the rate at which young dogs mature vis-a-vis the demands folks want to put on them early. Having lived with several, in the home, from birth to death watching their development and especially their ability to initiate AND to respond to communication with humans I am certain we tend to try and push them too rapidly through their youth.

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So much to learn, So little time!
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:49 pm

AverageGuy wrote:Last clinic I attended there was one hard headed GSP that wanted some high voltage but I never got above a 3 out of 7 on my Pro 550, and was in the 2 range for 95% of the corrections with my dog. Which was the representative case vs the exception across the rest of the dogs. I think the foundation I trained rewarding the desired steadiness behavior via PR under less distraction than a close flushing bird had alot to do with it vs raw differences in the dogs, but of course I can't prove it.


There is a lot that goes into a discussion like this. If we speak of versatile dog's only, I do think a great majority of their training can be done with PR. However, I believe that EACH AND EVERY dog NEEDS a certain amount of pressure to be a reliable dog. When we throw retrievers into the equation, it becomes somewhat reversed, with them requiring far more pressure than the versatile dog's. This is due to the complexity of the tasks we ask them to do. When it comes down to it, it's a balance. In my opinion, you can't train only one way and come out with a highly reliable dog.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:10 pm

AverageGuy wrote:PR is a great tool for the conditioning/teaching phase of training. So are well understood and timed corrections during the proofing phase of training. Many trainers are successfully using a combination of both and there is no reason it has to be a 100% of one or the other proposition vs an adaptive combination of the two.


I strongly agree with the above. And also GH's post.

I'm totally fine with Higgins' methods of training (through trust rather than through obedience) but when his dog decides it would rather chase a deer, or not come when called, then it'll be a different ballgame. And I suspect his methods are fine for general upland game hunting but doubt they'll work much getting the dog to cross a river and take hand signals to a crippled duck. I do enjoy his videos though.

Right now my wife is obedience training her four month old pup and reinforces the simple commands with a few kernels of kibble. The dog is mastering it all with enthusiasm - including fetch, drop, etc. Whether she'll ever need to proof all this with the ecollar is not known but she owns one and knows how to use them. At some point I figure the dog will have to execute a command because it was told to, not because it'll get a reward if it does so.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:19 pm

GH, Makes sense and I agree.

Jere, interesting comment. I am a newbie compared to some on using Marker/Treat training but one of the benefits I see with it is the ability to shape a puppy's behavior at an earlier age with no pressure. I wait until after a puppy's first hunting season to steady it to wing and shot on upland birds. And I do not undertake FF in the middle of hunting season so the practical of that is it most often has been done after the first hunting season as well. But I absolutely push my puppies ASAP in exposing them and hunting them on wild game. Doves open first where I live and their ages have ranged from 5 to 7 months, then teal, early duck, prairie grouse, quail, pheasants, waterfowl ... Having done proper introductions of gun, birds, water, decoys and daily exposure to terrain has allowed my puppies to have excellent first seasons as I just described.

Not sure how that relates to your observation of bringing them along too fast?

Brad talks alot of letting the dog learn through free choice. I am not interested in conditioning a dog to sight point a brush pile or a gunner, but it occurred to me that my use of pigeons in launchers is a form of letting the dog make choices and getting rewarded for choosing to point and hold point while I flush and shoot the bird, with zero pressure from me while doing it. So I guess I subscribe to the theory if not the precise practice.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby AlaskaMagnum » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:32 pm

PL_Guy wrote:
AlaskaMagnum wrote:...

Jere

I imagine finding a pinch collar that fits a killer whale is tough!

You still across the bay in Homer?


Sure, but fitting an e-collar shouldn't be too much of a challenge should one want to try, eh?

Yes, still across the bay from Homer. Getting to be more like somewhere in PWS or even further south though. Bought a cabin SE of Delta a few years ago while up there watching the migration and working on a setter's working range. We spend a couple of months a year there now fixing the cabin, watching the game, thinking about shooting something and, mostly, escaping the rain.

You're where now, Nebraska?

Jere


Yes. Land of Beans and Corn. Here at Army Division. I'm not going to DC so I guess I stay here.

All my dogs got too old and had all of them die over two years. I have a new pup now linebred on Birko and D Litter Ochtringer forest.

Ive slowed down due to spinal fusion. Been watching a lot of IPO and their methods. I ALMOST pulled the trigger on a GSD, but sweet Jesus the breed is a mess. Malinois are too neurotic for me. I like my furniture in one piece.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby AlaskaMagnum » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:38 pm

AverageGuy wrote:GH, Makes sense and I agree.

it occurred to me that my use of pigeons in a launchers is a form of letting the dog make choices and getting rewarded for choosing to point and hold point while I flush and shoot the bird, with zero pressure from me while doing it. So I guess I subscribe to the theory if not the precise practice.


That's exactly what it is, and a dog that decides to hold point on its own is always more reliable than one you forced into it. They style up better too.

The bird getting shot and killed for the dog is the reward, and no different than a tug or a food reward or a bite.
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby PL_Guy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:50 pm

AverageGuy wrote:...
Jere, interesting comment. I am a newbie compared to some on using Marker/Treat training but one of the benefits I see with it is the ability to shape a puppy's behavior at an earlier age with no pressure. I wait until after a puppy's first hunting season to steady it to wing and shot on upland birds. And I do not undertake FF in the middle of hunting season so the practical of that is it most often has been done after the first hunting season as well. But I absolutely push my puppies ASAP in exposing them and hunting them on wild game. Doves open first where I live and their ages have ranged from 5 to 7 months, then teal, early duck, prairie grouse, quail, pheasants, waterfowl ... Having done proper introductions of gun, birds, water, decoys and daily exposure to terrain has allowed my puppies to have excellent first seasons as I just described.

Not sure how that relates to your observation of bringing them along too fast?

...


Allow me to wax hyperbolic for a moment (exaggerate that is) I'm thinking more of the folks who want an all-age dog at the age of 1 year, SWSF at 9 months etc. You're probably doing just fine. I especially like your approach to the first season - as long as your expectations don't exceed prior preparation. For upland, it is my firm belief that the dog learns more of value to future hunting success out there learning about birds, environment, etc. than any amount of time spent in the "yard" at the same period of life. A totally obedient dog that can't find birds is of little use to me!

Be careful with that Marker/Treat stuff. For me it wasn't as easy as it seems. I found it VERY easy to inadvertently Mark and then Treat an undesired behavior (though not especially noxious) which has been VERY VERY resilient - I mean it has lasted literally years w/o any further reinforcement (violating one tenant of OC theory). My timing has generally be praised by the pros I have worked with - but I Fxxed up!

If you live with your dogs as family members, maintain your standards in as gentle as possible a manner, I think you will come to appreciate what I said about the progress of the dog as it matures and be quite impressed by the final state.

Jere
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So much to learn, So little time!
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Re: The Higgins Method, Falconry for Gun Dogs

Postby PL_Guy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:03 pm

AverageGuy wrote:...

Brad talks alot of letting the dog learn through free choice. I am not interested in conditioning a dog to sight point a brush pile or a gunner, but it occurred to me that my use of pigeons in launchers is a form of letting the dog make choices and getting rewarded for choosing to point and hold point while I flush and shoot the bird, with zero pressure from me while doing it. So I guess I subscribe to the theory if not the precise practice.


You might find something that resonates with your thinking in the West method. There is a lot of free will for the dog there.

Jere
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