Check this out

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

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Re: Check this out

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:14 am

GH: well, you may be right, and it sure won't won't happen in my (or your) lifetime. As far as taking too much time to teach I've now got the steps down so it's a pretty quick process (as long as you use some candy).

In one series in Canada my friend's dog ran a 313 yard blind and only handled once. So what's next - a 400 yard blind? Geez, the dog can't even see the handler at that distance! Maybe go to quads or more marks? The gunners now wear white so the dogs can have a chance of seeing where the bird is coming from at absurd distances. And having 8 or 10 whistles just to have the dog "challenge the line" is pretty weird IMO. These dogs are so finely tuned that a 10 degree correction per tweet isn't very demanding. Over correct? Tweet the opposite direction. Think big.
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Re: Check this out

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:14 am

Very few Vdogs are sent to pro trainers and generally do not need to be, so how long the pros take to embrace it is not relevant for me. If using PR in some areas of training takes longer but is ultimately successful that is a perfectly acceptable outcome for this amateur trainer (and it is faster in some areas).

I think it is another tool worth having and using, but certainly not the only one is how I approach it at the moment. It is also worth noting that pro trainers is all areas other than gun dogs are using PR. George Hickox is using it for early conditioning, Milner is using it, Hillman is using a different than traditional approach...

Trying to make Retrieving FT dogs out of most Vdogs is not a good fit. Some individuals can hack that level of control, most cannot. Simple handling yes, complex skills equal to the top labs is beyond what most Vdogs will tolerate. Shoot a duck down into a chest high flooded smartweed marsh (where line of sight handling is impossible), and send the dog in to find it is where the Vdogs shine, and upland birds, blood tracking ...

So the degree of success in using PR to compete in Retriever trials and tests designed as ever escalating games for the lab folks has no bearing on the value of using PR techniques for training Vdogs to be excellent hunting dogs, is my view.
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Re: Check this out

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:34 am

AverageGuy wrote:Very few Vdogs are sent to pro trainers and generally do not need to be, so how long the pros take to embrace it is not relevant for me. If using PR in some areas of training takes longer but is ultimately successful that is a perfectly acceptable outcome for this amateur trainer. I think it is another tool worth having and using, but not the only one is how I approach it at the moment.

Trying to make Retrieving FT dogs out of most Vdogs is not a good fit. Some individuals can hack that level of control, most cannot. Simple handling yes, complex skills equal to the top labs is beyond what most Vdogs will tolerate. Shoot a duck down into a chest high flooded smartweed marsh (where line of sight handling is impossible), and send the dog in to find it is where the Vdogs shine, and upland birds, blood tracking ...


I agree with both you and Bruce; it is a virtual impossibility to train a V dog to even a basic field trial level and what Hunter wants it, needs it, or is willing to train for it? If there are any, they have bought the wrong dog. When we get right down to it, if a V dog does a few basic things, points a bird, retrieves a bird, knows NO and comes when called, that's all the average Hunter wants and most V dogs pretty much point and retrieve right out of the box. All you really have to teach is HERE.

I'm not advocating sending a dog to a pro at all, just stating a pro's views on it. Many times dogs are sent to pro's for yearly "tune ups" 30-60'days before the season begins. We NEED tools that have been firmly embedded in that dog that may occur from year to year. That's why a pro is so adamant about using a program. It's all in what you want in a trained dog.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Check this out

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:39 am

GH, Makes sense. I was just pointing out it is mostly out of context with the Vdogs and we agree on that. I salute Bruce's attempts to try new things. He has a heck of a hunting dog and is having fun. That's why we have em.
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Re: Check this out

Postby orhunter » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:17 am

Gonehuntin': Well said. What gets me are the folks who feel the need for a pro just to get the basics. Heck, it's your dog, do it yourself!
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Re: Check this out

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:22 am

Yes, and at its most basic, A well bred V dog will do most things a Hunter wants if he will simply come when called.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Check this out

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:40 am

These are interesting times for training. We have really smart dogs but we've been slow to figure out how to communicate with them in the most positive ways. That seems to be changing. STait's falconry technique knocked me out!
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Re: Check this out

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:13 am

Spud and I took a run on the local WMA this morning to give him some time to leg out and do a wild brood survey. He was perfect in his last steady to WSF session working 4 pigeons on the ground in a large natural cover Brome grass field 3 days ago.

This morning he apparently hit a running pheasant track going down a row in knee high corn surrounded by chest high thick weedy grass cover. I was alerted to the situation when I saw a pheasant in the air 100 yards in the distance and then a glimpse of Spud bouncing four feet off the ground, immediately disappearing back into high cover making it too dicey for me to do any corrections on a dog I could not see. So I just monitored the Alpha as he went out to a couple hundred yards and then came back my way. I did not have my clicker on me at the time but doubt it would have made a difference :).

HC, I thought about your comment about softer dogs needing different training tactics. I recalled that Brad Higgins is a proponent of PR but also reveals in his blogs that he seeks out European lines of dogs which are easier to train and that he encounters American bred dogs which still require some ecollar to get through a training program. And Milner switched from American FT lines of labs to British labs to get an easier dog to work with. And I recalled watching FT labs being "trained" at DL Walters kennel in La Cgyne, KS 30 miles down the road from where I grew up. It was brutal and many dogs were washed out. I picked up some bad habits that I employed on my first GWP 30 years ago. Lucky for both of us he was tough enough to take it. I approach things a lot different now.

If it were not for a desire for a sit and hold delivery of game, none of the GWPs I have worked with had any need for a FF program to get them retrieve game to my feet. So given it is most often only a need to teach Hold I expect many people can be successful with a Vdog using a different method for doing so and then overlaying an ecollar to re-enforce. Just my take on it, others who may disagree do not offend me. With some dogs I will be right and with some they will be right.
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Re: Check this out

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:58 am

I agree AG. I think FF has taken on a mystique that is not good for a lot of dog owners as they end up sending the dog out for the treatment. It's not a big deal to have game dropped at your feet. As MissK says, PR for fetch is the future so the sooner that gets in the cult the better. Plus anybody can do it.

Yeah, running pheasants are a pain. What would it take to train one's dog to go 100 yards in a straight line to the end of the field, then take an "over" into cover, and then work back to the handler? I was able to do this once in S.D. as a desperation move and it pretty well shook up all the pheasants in the ditch. If I lived around pheasants I would work on that one. I hear some dogs do it naturally.
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Re: Check this out

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:24 am

This pup is a real nice wild rooster dog already. If that bird had held he would have pointed it. It ran hard and flushed wild instead, he was overdue for a chase and he did for little ways. In open cover I would have whoa'd him and been ready to back it up with stimulation as needed. Since I could not see him I did nothing. He is young. The last thing I would do is something to negatively affect his drive at this point. He takes corrections he understands really well, I just need to be able to see him when I give them. Just like handling a dog on a retrieve...
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Re: Check this out

Postby crackerd » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:51 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote:In one series in Canada my friend's dog ran a 313 yard blind and only handled once. So what's next - a 400 yard blind? Geez, the dog can't even see the handler at that distance! Maybe go to quads or more marks? The gunners now wear white so the dogs can have a chance of seeing where the bird is coming from at absurd distances. And having 8 or 10 whistles just to have the dog "challenge the line" is pretty weird IMO. These dogs are so finely tuned that a 10 degree correction per tweet isn't very demanding. Over correct? Tweet the opposite direction. Think big.


Bruce, the guns have worn white in retriever field trials for at least 25 years. And distances have gone into another ZIP code for both marks and blinds because the dogs have progressed accordingly - better trained now than ever (the corollary that 95 out of 100 are trained by pros). That's the nature of field trials. We're not talking hunt tests, which are supposed to be "non-competitive" (even if they are). We're talking judges who need to see one dog outperform all others in order to pick a winner. Or to have harmonious in awarding a dog another color ribbon that might not be the blue - I was happy for my 9 1/2-year-old British Lab to rack up one of those recently in her first full field trial since cancer surgery earlier this year.

What put her in position to "play" for the blue in the fourth series was a 300-plus yard water blind but as I've pointed out to you before, distance on marks or blinds is almost never "the" consequential factor. In this case it was a poison bird blind with the bird thrown about five yards up on land from a point the dogs had to "touch" at 150 yards out - if you didn't get a quick whistle on the dog as soon as it got up on that point (or in many cases even if you did), the dog was going to vaccuum up that poison bird and eliminate itself from the trial. I had four whistles over the course of the blind, a couple of those ahead of "permission back" casts - which essentially is stopping the dog in the water, to let her know I was OK with her getting out of the water to make a reentry a second or two later. Again, what's "weird" to you - 8-10 whistles on a blind - is essential for the judges in scoring a blind for separating dogs who run it. (Unless they can close their book the instant a dog picks up the poison bird - as happened to half the 30 dogs running that water blind.)

And the white coats? - come now, you know that's just to give the dog a picture of a long mark before those guns in those white coats recedes into blinds or sidles into the woods to become a "retired" gun which means no white coats to mark off of when the dog's going for the second, third or fourth bird of a multiple mark. And since you mentioned your friend, in Canada they sometimes need these factors to be made even more difficult in trials, because they are not allowed to shoot flyers (live ducks or pheasants), which can be used by savvy judges to wreak all kinds of havoc on FT retrievers. Like, say, a hen pheasant with no scent shot at 350 yards as the go-bird while the two dead birds in the first series are shot at half that distance as a retired "Momma-Poppa" set up. I think 16 of 67 dogs entered got called back for the second series in that one. So you see distance works both ways, a dog's memory works other ways, and field trials work in mysterious ways far beyond distance and painters suits (white coats) for determining a winner.

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Re: Check this out

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:43 pm

crackerd wrote: And since you mentioned your friend, in Canada they sometimes need these factors to be made even more difficult in trials, because they are not allowed to shoot flyers (live ducks or pheasants), which can be used by savvy judges to wreak all kinds of havoc on FT retrievers. Like, say, a hen pheasant with no scent shot at 350 yards as the go-bird while the two dead birds in the first series are shot at half that distance as a retired "Momma-Poppa" set up. I think 16 of 67 dogs entered got called back for the second series in that one. So you see distance works both ways, a dog's memory works other ways, and field trials work in mysterious ways far beyond distance and painters suits (white coats) for determining a winner.


Yes, it all seems pretty insane. Congratulations for the ribbon!

Do hens and cocks actually smell differently? I have a hen and six mallard ducklings on a pond below the house and my dogs didn't find her nest and don't even seem to know that they're around. I'm thinking they just don't smell much and have wondered if that's so?
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Re: Check this out

Postby crackerd » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:03 pm

Yes, hens virtually scentless, cockbirds much more "smellable." But also to consider is that this particular test (series) was a mixed bag, with the hen pheasant flyer and two dead ducks (plenty of scent - too much, in fact) of the Mama-Poppa double and wind direction bringing on the demise of many dogs. Because when the dogs winded the "wrong" bird, what with the marks thrown awfully tight (within 25 yards of each other, and from the same gun station), they switched marks with their hunt and, yes, put themselves out of the trial.

Also bear in mind this was an( North) American field trial, because in a British trial the dogs wouldn't pick up a "wrong" bird, just pick up any bird after being sent. I mention the British trials because the "insanity" in retriever FTs as you call it - in our field trials - is a byproduct of democracy. Yes, you pays yer money, you takes yer chances - no entries refused. In British trials you have to send in many entries (to many clubs) and hope to be among the 12 (or in a "big" trial 24) dogs drawn for a run. I knew folks over there who paid club subscriptions (membership fees) for more than 30 clubs, just trying to get a run!

Anyhow, I'm pretty much in harmony with GH, as always, on versatile dog expectations from their training, but where I differ is I fully believe that with a softer hand and fewer repetitions, I could - or no, a better trainer than I could - get the right versatile breed up to all-age level for retriever trials. Would take a ton of training both challenging and rewarding the dog along the way, and not coming down hard on it - but if you had the facilities (technical training ponds, "day-training" with the right pro, training as frequently as five days a week), yes, I believe you could pull it off.

Then again, what good would that do, since you couldn't enter a versatile breed in a (retriever) field trial in the first place? Someday that might change - it already has for (AKC retriever) hunt tests, though I don't know of any versatiles who've made it to the Master National (if anybody out there does - and almost 1,000 dogs have qualified for the MN this year - please sing that dog [and handler's] praises). Myself, I'm more inclined these days to see if a highly-trained Boykin (trained in a retriever FT group) might ever become eligible for retriever FTs.

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Re: Check this out

Postby Chadwick » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:36 pm

Like the original video, getting as much teaching in as early as possible is key. Early training creates behaviors that become second nature rather than trying to train behaviors to over come bad habits.

For the first time this year, I started 2 puppies on the process that I use for teaching dogs to be steady to WSF. The first started at 11 weeks and the second started at 14 weeks. They are doing incredibly well as they continue their training. To these little dogs, there is only one way that works to get a bird in the field. Even if they try something different in the future, the most successful way will be the first one they were taught. It makes a huge difference.

My reason for trying it was that the 11 week old pup showed up to my training night and was h**l on wheels. The pup paid no attention to the owners, would run off on its own (at one point was 200 yards away and did not care that it was alone), and caught and ate a quail. Given the pups independence, I wanted to convince him that working with people was the way to go. I got the owners using a clicker, they enrolled in a puppy kindergarten class, and we started the WSF process. Two months later, the pup is focused on people, points and holds birds from 30 feet away through shot and fall, and carries quail like a champ and happily gives them to the owners. This is just one dog, so who knows, but I get similar results with older dogs that already have a lot of bad habits.

The second pup is much more cooperative and has only been at it 2 weeks, but is progressing similarly. Fingers crossed. Since there is no pressure involved and the pups are not developing any bad habits, I figure there is not much downside to giving it a try.
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