Training other people's dogs?

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Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:31 am

I'm 72, a breeder and have been holding a leash for 55 years. I have and train 4 PPs every day, for my benefit as much as theirs. I have never trained anyone eleses dog. I have helped lots of people train their own dogs.

We have a "customer" who lives not far away who has 2 of our pups, and they are both very nice dogs and he is a practicing Physician, and not experienced with training dogs. He has asked a local pro who trains retrievers and the pro said no and suggested me.

I know some of you fellows are pros and BTW I'm not looking at this as a second career, I'm sort of thinking that I'd like to do it. My reasons are that when I sell a pup and deliver it to the airport, that's the last time I see the dog, except for the odd picture and the dog's results in the NAVHDA magazine. If I do this it will give me a wonderful opportunity to see just what kind of dog I'm breeding and hopefully show the owner just what the dog can do.

I have places to keep the 2 pups. We live on a large farm with no neighbours, and I have lots of places to train. Usually I'm by myself.

Are there reasons that I haven't thought of that would make this not a good idea?

Thanks guys.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:46 am

I expect your satisfaction doing this will have alot to do with the client. For the right client I predict you will find it very rewarding.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby bhennessy » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:46 am

I'd think that you would have no shortage of potential clients like me, especially if you keep your operation on the small side. I'd much rather put my Griff for several months where I know he'll get lots of attention and exposure to birds. I realized early on that as much a I enjoy training Bear he had the potential to be a much better bird dog than I have to be a bird dog trainer, so I've supplemented my efforts with a couple visits to a pro. Finding the right place for him was a bit of a challenge.

Its a win/win if you truly enjoy it...then its not work at all and the dogs will be better for it.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:12 pm

I really enjoyed being a pro as you probably an tell. It isn't for everyone; see my above post on training marginal animals. That being said, keep these things in mind:

1) You training for money so people expect results.
2) People expect their dogs to be kept in immaculate conditions.
3) You have to train the dog's to acceptable standards using an approved program.
4) You have to have access to a ton of birds to shoot over the dog's; all types.
5) you are responsible for someone else's loved pet, no excuses.
6) You have to work weekends to train the handlers.
7) Make sure you can handle all problems encountered.

Those are the top 7 considerations. Don't lie to yourself.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:34 pm

Thanks guys. I have already told the owner that he has to come for 3 weekends and be trained with his 2 pups. The dogs know me and our house, they will be living in the house.
We are training for NA and I have access to about 85 pigeons.

All the rest I can do.

I'll let you know how this goes. To quote and old friend (a pro) "the hardest part of this is training the owner." The owner in this case is a very fine fellow and the 2 pups are the best we have bred so I expect results too.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Willie T » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:10 pm

Densa, should be a worthwhile endeavor, considering you are the breeder. I used to train with a small group that included two professional trainers. In conversation one day they both commented that some of the nicest dogs they see have been trained by good amateur trainers. They attributed that to the fact that the amateur training one or two dogs had more time and flexibility to adjust the program to a particular dogs strengths and weaknesses and there was no pressure to meet anyone else's expectations or timeline. In the conversation they went on to comment that sometimes that can change, when you are trying to meet a paying clients preconceived expectations. I guess what I was trying to get at in a round about way, is if I were in your shoes, before I took on someone else's dog I would make clear that I was going to train how I saw fit and the individual dogs would dictate the timeline rather than the owner. I am not a breeder, but I can see how it would be highly rewarding to see first hand what a couple of dogs you produce are capable of when they are handled the exact way you would handle them yourself. I think we have all seen instances of a pup with less natural talent paired with the right handler surpass a litermate with more natural talent that is paired with the wrong handler. Good luck with it and keep us posted how it goes.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby hicntry » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:06 pm

Ok, from a breeders perspective.....how can you justify training a dog to take a NA test. Natural ability is just that, NATURAL ABILITY, not trained. From my perspective, if the pups have to be trained for the most rudimentary of tasks, the breeders are really falling down on the job.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:03 am

Willie, we must have known the same people, 5,000 miles apart. The right guy on the end of a leash can make any dog look good.

You comments on the devoted amateur trainer are exactly what I have seen.

Hicntry I met a woman in Washington who was a breeder primarily for show) and she thought that the NA test was too tough, a proper test would be to show the dog a bird and if he showed any interest "that was natural ability" I guess to each his own. Our hunting season opens a week after our test and the dogs have to be able to retrieve crippled ducks and geese, swim in cold water, ignore decoys and of course, find, point stay steady for shot and splash for upland birds. Even the best dogs need to be trained to be safe, they need to learn that they are part of a team with the hunter, they are not trying to do it on their own.

Dogs that aren't steady risk being shot. (not on purpose but still a bad idea).
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby ryanr » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:02 pm

hicntry wrote:Ok, from a breeders perspective.....how can you justify training a dog to take a NA test. Natural ability is just that, NATURAL ABILITY, not trained. From my perspective, if the pups have to be trained for the most rudimentary of tasks, the breeders are really falling down on the job.


You're indeed correct, basically. However, you do still need to do some important exposure work with your pup prior to its NA Test, otherwise you're doing both you and your dog a real disservice (and I believe that's right out of the NAVHDA handbook itself.) In this case I think the term training just gets commonly used as a catch all. In most cases you really shouldn't have to do anything more than the correct exposure to earn a prize in NA.

Every year though I see a few handlers show up and say, "I've never had my pup in the water, does my pup have to swim to pass?" The track can throw a young pup too, one of the things the judges are looking to see is a pup that has the focus to follow the track with its nose and not just break into a search after a few feet or yards like lots of pups typically want to do. It's okay if the pup loses the track or breaks into a search, as long as it shows that focus to return to the track and continue it's progress on the track. Ideally they want to see the dog break cover (tracks typically start with a pheasant released in the open of a short grass field and allowed to run/hop into cover) to get or point the bird. And speaking of pointing, your pup should be exposed to game birds beforehand because it is quite common among pointing breeds for pups to need more than one encounter with game birds to "draw out" their natural pointing instinct. So a good handler is going to make sure their pup has swam, likely in several different places. They're going to make sure pup has been exposed to game birds in the field and is pointing and they're also going to have given their pup opportunity to run a couple tracks and recognize what the command "track" means (a handler is going to typically get their dog focused towards the ground at the beginning of the track and say "track, track, track" as the pup picks up the scent and is released to track it.) It shouldn't take much but you definitely need to do at least some exposure with pup prior to NA Test. Besides it's fun.

I actually did most of my tracking exposure just by allowing my dog to track rabbits I'd see run off ahead of us. He even ran a couple of fox tracks before his NA. Each time I'd bring over near where I saw the animal take off from and as soon as I saw he had the scent I'd say "track, track, track" in an encouraging voice and release him. We only actually did one or two tracks with an actual pheasant, and actually that was a drag with a dead one. Pointing was my biggest worry, not that he didn't ever point, on the contrary he had (has) a pretty intense point but unfortunately he caught a bunch of poor flying chukars that summer before his NA test that he stopped pointing and was just charging in as soon as he hit bird scent because he learned that he didn't need to point to maintain contact with the bird. So I had to launch a few rounds of homers in front of him to draw that point back out of him.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby SMAbby » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:37 pm

Densa44 wrote:Thanks guys. I have already told the owner that he has to come for 3 weekends and be trained with his 2 pups. The dogs know me and our house, they will be living in the house.
We are training for NA and I have access to about 85 pigeons.

All the rest I can do.

I'll let you know how this goes. To quote and old friend (a pro) "the hardest part of this is training the owner." The owner in this case is a very fine fellow and the 2 pups are the best we have bred so I expect results too.



BINGO!!!!

When I trained obedience at Petco, we would work on heeling. After class let out I would watch as the owners would allow the dog to drag them to the car. They would come back the next week and I would watch as the dog drug them into class. I then would listen to them complain about why the dog wont heel. It was as if training ended at the door of the store!! I couldnt keep doing it.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby hicntry » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:27 pm

OK Ryan, the simple solution would be to change the name of the test....to... say a puppy test....or an advanced puppy test since much of the pups success is based on training. What I would consider a NA test is planting birds and scoring on how many birds the pup located. The purpose, in my mind, is finding the pups that really wanted the bird...or, the ones worth putting the training time in with. In my field of fur dogs, a NA test would be laying a track with an actual animal carcass and seeing which dogs followed the track without ever seeing the animal. With hounds, NA would be finding out which dogs will tree for extended periods of time, and are willing to follow a track with out seeing game and so on. Say, with bird dogs, you have numerous planted bird and the pup has no interest, I would think that would tell you all you need to know. Simplify the test, if it an NA test, so you see natural behavior or change the name of the test. If the pups require training to take the test, is a real stretch to call it a NA test Seems to me the purpose of an NA test is to weed out the culls.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby ryanr » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:15 am

No, success in the test is based on exposure (some people do actually train for it but it's not needed with a well-bred dog- exposure gets it there just fine.) Natural Ability is simply NOT just showing up with a pup that has never seen or smelled a bird or swam a pond and then just putting it on the ground to see what happens. I doubt anybody in the fur game even does that (shows up completely "blind") for a test.

Birds are planted in the field (without the dog seeing it happen) and the young dog is then released & judged on such things as search, use of nose, pointing, stamina, cooperation, etc.

Then the pheasant track consists of a pheasant (with primary feathers pulled so it can't fly) being released in an open field and allowed to run to the field edge & into cover. The distance is about 100yards I think. Before the pheasant is released a few breast feathers are plucked and placed at the beginning of the track. The dog is then brought to the start of the track (the dog never sees the pheasant before release- unless the handler asks but even then the dog is simply shown to the dog but it is not allowed to see it released. Almost nobody asks to see the pheasant- only a person that hasn't done any bird exposure at all likely would). So dogbis brought to the track, handler makes sure its attention is on the feathers & scent trail and releases the dog. No other commands are given from this point forward until the dog has the bird or the judges tell the handler to call the dog & leash up. This is a true track, dragging a dead animal or bird is actually a drag, at least in NAVHDA terms.

Next is the swim test, basically the handler grabs a dummy from a pile of dummies and tosses it a fee yards out into the water & the young dog needs to enter the water willingly and swim at least several strokes & exit the water fully. The handler tosses a second dummy the dog must be willing to enter the water and swim again. It must swim. At least two separate times and if the dog was hesitant on any attempt the judges will ask to have the dog swim a third time. The dog does not have to retrieve the dummies, they're tossed just to give the dog a "reason" to enter the water. If the dummies do not work, stones can be tossed in hopes the splash entices the dog or a fresh, dead chukar is used but these things automatically lower the score in this element of the test.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:17 pm

I'm with HC all the way on this one. Tracking a bird, the way the judges want it tracked, is not natural ability. Gun sensitivity, pointing, watery, coat, bite, did position are natural. You have to really train to make a pup track with his nose in each track and that detracts from the term "natural ability". I disagree with the whole concept of tracking as bird anyhow.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:47 pm

All my GWPs would track with no training. I do not believe tracking skills can be trained. Enhanced through practice, yes, but not trained in the sense a dog with a poor natural retrieve can be trained to retrieve, or a dog with a weak pointing instinct can be made to stand birds, for example.

Which is a good argument for including the tracking skill in a NA test to see if the dog has natural ability to track.

But without training a command to associate with that task, it is left up to the dog as to when and what they decided to track. The training I do is to associate a command with what I am asking the dog to do at that time. I do not want a low headed search on my bird dog when it is looking for healthy birds, but I do want a dog that will lower its head and run a track when the circumstances/I call for it.

And that performance is impossible to get if the dog did not inherit natural ability to track, hence the NA test tracking component.

Additionally I think too many people who "train" their puppies for a NA test using pen raised released quail, chukars and pheasants on the ground, end up detracting from the pup's natural point and teach bad habits which they have to try and train away later e.g. crowding, roading in on and attempting to catch birds.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby STait » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:43 pm

What is the maximum age of the pup in a N.A. test?? A true natural ability test (from a breeders perspective) should be done at a young age, like 6-8 months, or even earlier. Tough to do though because of different birth dates.

Definitely agree with AG on the practice of using planted birds as they usually offer nothing good for a pup to learn from, except maybe pigeons in a launcher, and a trainer with good timing. I've found nothing good comes from a pup pointing, then catching a crappy throw down bird. NOTHING!!!
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