Training other people's dogs?

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

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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby ryanr » Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:35 am

hicntry wrote:Dogs naturally track step to step when the is almost no scent. Very slow and deliberate and applies no ,pressure to the game and is why it results in very few pheasants or any moving game. When there is an of fresh scent, most any dog naturally shifts from slow tracking to running the track downwind of the track. It is then called trailing which is done at a run and with the head up. Trailing is natural to dogs and is what they do to catch the game because they know they can locate it. When tracking, head down, the dog is actually trying to set the track. Once the track is established, almost any experience dog will switch to trailing at a run. This is all natural to ma doig unless they have it impeded by training. In short, they have to go into trailing to catch anything. Tracking is looking for it, trailing is found it.

Nice explanation HiC, thanks.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:23 am

Only a very, very, small percentage of all breeds ever learn to arc a pheasant. I've only EVER had one, a setter, that did it well and consistently. As soon as he'd hit a running bird, he'd arc downwind and run until he caught scent of the bird, then point it. I and other trainers have tried training for that and never figured out how to do it. Sure is exciting when you finally have a dog that will do it. Do you judge NAVHD Ryan?
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 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:50 am

ryanr wrote:Yeah, fast or slow, speed is not a criteria the judges are looking at on the track. Like your dogs, mine typically tracks/trails pretty fast. The more difficult or faint the scent trail is being the thing that will slow him down to a more methodical track. The reason a dog breaks into an arc is because it's searching. Either it does so on its own but then comes back to the track or it loses the track, breaks into a search but comes back to the track. Either way a dog can still get do very well in the NA track so long as it comes back to the track and continues to progress forward on it towards the bird. I watched a very good young dog on a very windy, rather dry day continually progress forward along the track while arcing away into a search and back most of the length because it was losing then coming back to the track due to the conditions. It succeeded in finding the bird and was just darn impressive in acinh a difficult track. I like watching to see what a dog will do if it loses the track and breaks into a search. I think the really good ones will show that focus & determination to return to it and pick it back up and continue on it. That's a dog that shows a strong ability to track. I watched another dog break into a big search and never come back to the track, it eventually ended up downwind of the bird's location in cover and found it but of course it didn't score well because it didn't track really at all. After the scores were read some people of course were commenting that the judges didn't score that dog correct or fairly "because it got the bird" meanwhile another dog that scored well on the track didn't get the bird. Getting the bird has nothing to do with it, one dog tracked continually making progress along the track while the other dog showed almost no ability or desire to track breaking into just a big search all over and just happened to end up downwind of the bird's location as it was running around.


What I see most commonly is a pup with good balanced NA will recognize by the stronger scent when the track it has been working down has lead it close to the bird and the pup will then break into a search mode and point the bird. And yes the scoring in Tracking is about Tracking not catching the bird, although the dog can receive a score in Pointing if it Points the bird at the end of the track. I like a dog which will arc out looking to advance a track vs grubbing back and forth on scent it has already worked. Some dogs track because they interested in the scent. The best ones track because they are interested in getting to the animal leaving the track.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:59 am

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Only a very, very, small percentage of all breeds ever learn to arc a pheasant. I've only EVER had one, a setter, that did it well and consistently. As soon as he'd hit a running bird, he'd arc downwind and run until he caught scent of the bird, then point it. I and other trainers have tried training for that and never figured out how to do it. Sure is exciting when you finally have a dog that will do it. Do you judge NAVHD Ryan?


I had a Dropper which would arc out and pin down a running rooster like a cutting horse cutting off a cow. It was a thing of beauty. Many years ago a trainer wrote an article in Gun Dog describing a method he claimed to have success training dogs to work this way. He mowed a large circle in tall grass and staked a wing clipped rooster down in the middle of it on a string which allowed it run within the tall grass portion of the circle. He would check cord the dog into the bird and let it establish a point, then flush/move the rooster to run hidden in the tall grass to another area of the circle, then encourage the dog to relocate around the mowed edge of the circle until it reestablished a point on the rooster. I never tried it and suspect it would have a real risk of making a dog unsteady. Takes a smart dog to do it right and not develop a habit of just taking out the bird in frustration.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby ryanr » Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:20 am

GH, no I'm long way from ever judging in NAVHDA. I've just volunteered at/observed several tests each year over my time in NAVHDA (only 5yrs.) I've helped work a bunch of dogs too every weekend too each Spring & Summer. These are just my observations and some of what I've learned from others I respect. I've been lucky in this short time to get to train with several judges and pros and some amateurs that really know what they're doing. It pays to be willing to plant birds or carry equipment all day or do whatever for the chance to ask questions & absorb some outstanding knowledge, you know.

BTW, I was talking about pups or young dogs that leave the track because they lost or they get excited and just want to search, not those dogs that have learned thru much experience to circle out front of a running pheasant to pin it (That's sure a thing of beauty to see a dog do!) Some of these pups show the focus to COME BACK TO THE POINT they lost the track and move up to try to relocate it. Others just keep running around searching or wandering off onto other smells or distractions. At the NA level I've yet to see a dog that had the experience yet to figure out about circling AHEAD of the pheasant.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:53 am

O.K. folks, yesterday I got a unique chance to see how some of our pups have turned out and my efforts to teach a good dog to do a duck search. It was a normal summer day in Alberta, strong North winds and driving rain. Every one was cold and wet through, the kids were sitting in the truck, so much for my ideas on how to keep them occupied.

I watched the puppies at the water, and the older ones were 8 months and good sized dogs, they swam like otters, I don't use a leash unless we are in a parking lot or a dangerous spot for the dogs, I have had knee surgery, am old and fat. I think if the pup ever pulled me down that would be the end of me. Any way the young fellow standing next to me hooked his PP up when he had completed his turn and hooked the leash 's loop over his left toe and stood on the slack part with his right foot. I told him that this was unapproved practice and he laughed it off. When the fellow running the lesson threw another dummy into the pond, his dog got there first and gravity laid him on his back!

The dog I was teaching sight blinds and duck searches to was also in attendance, and all my efforts and instructions to the handler were forgotten in the excitement, FETCH was shouted and the offside hand was waved (the dog couldn't see the hand) the PP knew the game and was off like a shot, straight across the pond which was full of scent thanks to wild birds and ducks the other club members had released. The dog searched the whole pond in the bulrushes and open water. After 15 mins she found a duck and barked a few times as she swam after it to no avail. The local judge said it was a 4. So I guess once the dog knows what she is supposed to do, the handler is much less important, the dog just needs to know that it is her turn.

The 2 pups I have agreed to train, we didn't get in the water, but they both have great prey drive and I think their owner will get them swimming this week, I got them both heeling like little gentlemen without a leash by the time we were walking back to the truck.

We took the opportunity to do a duck drag in the adverse conditions (a big understatement) the duck was still frozen, the PP tracked it no problem which surprised me and she wasn't sure that she should pick it up, (she'd never seen a frozen duck before) but with some assurance from the handler it was retrieved to hand for the next contestant to use.

Thanks for all the help, the owners are all very pleased and I'm proud of the dogs too.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby JONOV » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:25 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.

I don't disagree with you, but you have to take it in a broader context. Much of the "training" is really "exposure." Having the dog run pheasant tracks, exposing the dog to birds in the field, etc. The dogs need "preparation" but formal "training" might not be the best word for it.

The wide age range might not be optimal, but if you make it difficult to participate, you won't much data at all, and you won't have good participation either. Remember, most breeders can't keep tons of dogs to see what works with their own eyes. They necessarily (either for financial, or practical reasons) sell their puppies and cross their fingers that they get the feedback or information they hope to have.

I'm not a breeder, but I can't help but think the deck is stacked against you trying to see what really works long term. Maybe breeders can tell me about how common the following are:

One buyer might totally disappear after picking up their dog.

A second might be someone looking for a pet and enjoys playing dog games with the dog but never actually goes hunting. I know a UT I dog that was bought with the intention of the occasional quail or dove hunt and nothing more. But the handler, who had shown horses previously, really got into the game. I still don't think the dog hunts much in the sense of going out for wild birds. But its a good dog that most would be jealous of.

A third might never test, but hunts a LOT and is happy with a dog that points his birds and retrieves his ducks within 5 feet of him. This describes a close friend of mine. He has the luxury of living in Iowa where there are wild birds to train up the dog naturally. I can tell a difference in how his dog handles wild birds.

So, you get to the guy that's happy to test the dog, but has a life outside of the dog world. If there is a tight time limit to test the dog, and their son has a hockey tournament the only time the test is being run within driving distance, he isn't going to test.

In any case, the test represents one day, and the data can only tell you so much. There were only two dogs that did well on the track when I ran my dog in the NA test. Both were 15 months old at least. One had spent the last month at least with a pro trainer who drove 6 hours to test her before she aged out. The dog was owned by a breeder. It was a really nice dog, good coat, temperament, size. But how would it have done being tested at 9 months old with an amateur handler?

Finally, you must remember that there is competition, reputations, and money on the line. If a breeder is going to charge $1,200 or more for a pup, he better have something concrete to back that up. So, waiting has its benefits. I've seen grown men with multi-million dollar net worth's that would go out and sandbag their golf handicaps for an intraclub tournament where they would win $1,000, so seeing a finished dog running an NA test on Saturday and a UT test on Sunday doesn't surprise me one bit.

To your point Densa, I would jump all over the opportunity. I think as a breeder its one you won't get again.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:32 pm

JONOV wrote:, so seeing a finished dog running an NA test on Saturday and a UT test on Sunday doesn't surprise me one bit.

To your point Densa, I would jump all over the opportunity. I think as a breeder its one you won't get again.


I have such a dog now. Just got 108, prize II. Is honoring, steady to wing, forced, collar broken, beginning duck search. She would easily be ready for UT in three months and could do as you say, run NA one day UT the next. She won't because from now on, I'm a hunter only. Which addresses one of your other points.
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 woodboro » Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:00 am

Densa44 wrote: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.


Some suggestions :
Ask owner what commands he would use.
Create a list of tasks the dog could be trained on , and ask owner how far down the list the owner wants you to do.
Have the owner periodically come out to see dogs , and if possible have the owner take the dogs for a couple days in a 3 week period , with your instructions.
Lastly , create a log of development for the dog , so when ou are paid , you discuss the log events and development.

I enjoy training other dogs for people that need your help.
Little story - Current dog in , had owner tell me he was going to train the dog.
Sounds good , but I knew it would not happen.
6 weeks (pup 12 weeks old) I get a call , and was asked how to heel his dog.......
I always smile at these calls , but your advise must not be dirt kicking at your future client.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:25 am

To-days the day folks. I have both pups, 2 very excited males, plus the 4 females I own. In spite of what I was told neither dog has been swimming. Who knew?

My plan is to take them to some shallow water in the marsh that is full of young birds that they can't catch and see what happens. The older dogs will be in in a flash and we'll see if the boys will go in with their mother. One of the girls has to stay home because she is great with 9 pups!

In answer to the "Training" aspect of the NA test, BTW coyotes will not wet a paw. I don't know if that is true all over N. America or not but here in Alberta that is a fact, so on their own coyotes don't swim. I am a fountain of useless information.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:05 pm

You always learn something! When I opened the truck door all 5 PPs shot out (I live on a large piece of land with no traffic) and into the slough. One pup went right in with his mother and started chasing the ducks. The ducks seemed to like it too, they would stay ahead of the dogs then take off. When the dogs were about to quit they would fly back and land near them.
One pup swam like he had been doing it for years the other one (his littermate) only got his feet wet.

Tomorrow we will go to a new place that has more birds and water that is shallow for about 15 yards, romping water. Stay tuned.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:24 pm

Day 2: I was shooting some gophers off the back porch yesterday and remembered that I hadn't gun fire to my list of things I needed to teach the pups so to-day we had the cap gun from the dollar store and the dogs thought that it was great.
The small of the two, who was swimming yesterday was making trips across the slough and retrieving dummies. Big brother got up to his belly and that was pretty much it. Tomorrow is supposed to be 29 C not hot by some of your standards but hot for Alberta, and he is a "shaggy" PP so I'm going to take advantage of that. I'll work my little pack for a bit and when I can see lots of pink tongues I'll bring then to the slough. I know 4 will go in and I figure he will too, we'll see. No new pups yet.
Pine Ridges Ginnieve NA 112 UT pz 1 200
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:28 pm

Day 3; The thing I find that is hardest to do is to take my own advice! The larger of the 2 pups has not been swimming yet, the smaller dog, is retrieving dummies and sits and waits his turn, an excellent animal, easy to train, given I haven't done anything to train him. He has picked it up from the older dogs. I'm impressed.

I'm going to try a drag tomorrow and I'm very optimistic, they have been chasing rabbits for the last couple of days, and they now "Kennel up" on command.

I'm not happy with the "recall" and we will have a refresher tomorrow. I'm close with the bigger dog to get him swimming but my patience is wearing thin. I hope that he goes in on his own tomorrow, for Alberta it is very warm.
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Re: Training other people's dogs?

Postby Densa44 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:16 pm

Dogs are back with their owner and I learned a lot;
1. Just because a dog lives in a house it doesn't mean it can live in your house. We have a cat.
2. Dogs can learn an amazing amount from other dogs. I didn't really know that and I wonder if any one has a training system that takes advantage of that?
a) It got the reluctant dog in the water swimming
b) It was able to teach all of them (6) to back a point
c) The one that used to get car sick now doesn't
3. I think that with a small pack it speeds up training the duck search.

Well that was different.
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