Training a dog to point from further away - need help please

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Training a dog to point from further away - need help please

Postby sns2 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:13 am

Three weeks ago, I bought a 20 month old GWP. The dog was not hunted last fall, but did spend the past 4 months with a pro. I would describe the dog as well past started, but a bit short of finished. He comes from good breeding with parents who hunt hard. He loves the water, has been force fetched, and is a retrieving fool. He is a big running dog with one gear, overdrive. He is whoa broke, heels well, and recall is good with whistle. He is intense on point, and steady to both flush and shot, and retrieves to hand. I am very happy with everything except how close he gets to birds before he locks up on point. I should also mention that he has only been trained on pigeons and the trainer used remote launchers.

Today, a friend who also owns a GWP, asked me to join him at a site which just hosted a trial on the weekend where he felt there would be lots of chukars left over. We met up and started hunting with the dogs. My dog had a nice point in the bush on a running bird which busted when the bird got to the edge of the bush. He stayed steady to the flush. We carried on, the other dog had a few points, and there were also a number of busted birds, at which my dog stopped when they flushed. Then right near the end my dog was running downwind and bumped a bird which I never faulted him for. He stopped. There was another bird that didn't flush about 10' away in plain sight. My dog pointed that bird (sight) and it then got up. My dog stayed steady. There were some good things, but I was still kind of disappointed with his nose. I wondered if the fact that he had never seen or smelled a chukar before may have contributed.

On the way home, I took up the pro trainer's offer to come and have him run my dog. He planted three pigeons in launchers. The dog pointed all of them really intensely, and was steady to flush, but close to the launchers (2-5') away. He planted three more birds afterward. Again my dog pointed them all, and did a bit better. The pro feels that a good hard fall of hunting will help my dog, as it will be his first season. He also feels that using a long check cord and whoa(ing) the dog as soon as he gets a nose full of scent will also help.

Do you folks have any suggestions? I am all ears. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:20 am

Sounds like a nice dog ready for a season of hunting wild birds.

I work my puppies cross wind towards pigeons in launchers. Past the first couple of introductions, when they indicate they smell the bird by turning towards it, if they do not immediately point, I launch the pigeon and it flies away. It teaches a dog to point vs advance. Not sure if the pro trainer was allowing the dog to road in before pointing or not, but easy to work the dog in this manner and see if you can get it to respect the birds more. 2-5 feet is extremely close and should not be common in good wind and scenting conditions. Have you asked the pro trainer about it?

If you can hunt the dog on wild birds a lot this fall they will teach it cannot advance too close.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby NC Quailhunter » Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:37 am

Get the dog into birds that are not in launchers. He will learn to back up as he gains experience and to trust his nose more.
Wild birds are the best teachers. Expect a few busted birds until he figures it out.

Edited for spelling.
Last edited by NC Quailhunter on Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby orhunter » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:09 am

What NC Q said. Your dog is a product of training, not hunting. What was acceptable to the trainer, isn't acceptable to the hunter. Give the dog time to learn about wild birds. Might take a whole season for the dog to forget what training failed to do. Can't fault the dog.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:10 am

No doubt a big dose of wild birds is what every young dog needs.

But you can absolutely teach the dog to have more caution and not continue to approach and crowd birds using pigeons and launchers. All it requires is consistent launching of the bird when the dog indicates it smells it and turns and advances towards the bird. The "Pro Trainer" should have never been allowing the dog to advance to 2-5 feet and that is the root of the problem.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby Coveyrise64 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:25 am

AverageGuy wrote:No doubt a big dose of wild birds is what every young dog needs.

But you can absolutely teach the dog to have more caution and not continue to approach and crowd birds using pigeons and launchers. All it requires is consistent launching of the bird when the dog indicates it smells it and turns and advances towards the bird. The "Pro Trainer" should have never been allowing the dog to advance to 2-5 feet and that is the root of the problem.

What he said......! Pigeon/launchers become nothing more than a sub species of wild birds if used properly.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby ryanr » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:51 am

Coveyrise64 wrote:
AverageGuy wrote:No doubt a big dose of wild birds is what every young dog needs.

But you can absolutely teach the dog to have more caution and not continue to approach and crowd birds using pigeons and launchers. All it requires is consistent launching of the bird when the dog indicates it smells it and turns and advances towards the bird. The "Pro Trainer" should have never been allowing the dog to advance to 2-5 feet and that is the root of the problem.

What he said......! Pigeon/launchers become nothing more than a sub species of wild birds if used properly.


What both of them have said! If you can read your dog well then as soon as it looks like he has scent launch the pigeon. Do that a couple times and I'll bet you start seeing him point from further out. Been there and done it. Other than that a season of hunting wild birds will teach your dog just fine.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby sns2 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:00 am

AverageGuy wrote:No doubt a big dose of wild birds is what every young dog needs.

But you can absolutely teach the dog to have more caution and not continue to approach and crowd birds using pigeons and launchers. All it requires is consistent launching of the bird when the dog indicates it smells it and turns and advances towards the bird. The "Pro Trainer" should have never been allowing the dog to advance to 2-5 feet and that is the root of the problem.


I would agree with you. The trainer has an impressive operation, and a good reputation, but he is a lab guy. He had a few pointing dogs in his kennel, but at least twenty labs. I can't do anything about the past, but will move forward from this point. Problem is I do not have remote launchers, and can't afford any right now. Best I can do right now is old school hobbling the birds and using a check cord. I live in a city and catch pigeons with a net, so won't have endless supply.

Are my first steps to plant the bird, lead dog cross wind, and as soon as he gets a nose full and becomes birdy, which he definitely does, whoa him and have my son flush the bird?

Please correct my mistakes, because I want to get this right. Thanks guys.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:40 pm

I think you would be much better off to let the dog work birds in launchers silently at this point. You want the dog to learn advancing into the scent scares the bird away. The other approach is way more mechanical than I use to bring out a natural cautious point behavior, and teaches the dog the bird is a discipline situation, which I do not want at all. It yields dogs which flag on birds and who's inclination to point is directly linked to the close proximity of the handler vs a dog which becomes convinced that birds are wary and will fly away if it approaches too close.

So a couple of thoughts. The Pro Trainer took your money and created this problem. He/she should be willing to work the dog the correct way and fix it. It is not a difficult or protracted process, it just needs to be done correctly. Maybe let you use their pigeons, training grounds and launchers to work the dog yourself...?

Another approach is; How far are you from a NAVHDA chapter? Every Chapter will have remote launchers and someone will have pigeons to work.

Sure wanting to help vs discourage you at this point. This problem is very correctable.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby sns2 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:51 pm

Just to clarify. I bought the dog from a fella who's work situation changed and he had to sell. He sent it to the trainer. Not me. Trainer is a good guy, but his operation is 80 miles away. I'm on my own:)
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:30 pm

How close is your nearest NAVHDA chapter? Common for someone to help a guy out in those circles.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:36 am

If he roaded in on the birds, that's one thing. If YOU worked him 10' from a launcher and were upset because he pointed them too close, that's your fault for bringing him in that close to a planted bird. As AG said, ALWAYS come in cross wind on a planted bird. Sounds like a very nice dog and I think he knows most of what he needs to. The wild birds will teach him how close he can get.

As soon as he scents the bird is he pointing or is he then following the scent in to the bird?
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby orhunter » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:44 am

I wouldn't go to the check cord unless all else failed. Gotta let the dog do what he wants so you can correct him when he makes a mistake. If you prevent mistakes mechanically, the dog won't know when he messes up because he won't. Correcting mistakes is simply not shooting the bird or in training, launching at first indication of scent, as was mentioned. A nick with the e-collar for flushed birds might be of some help? The dog is supposed to think the bird caused the e-collar response so you gotta be real quick with it or don't do it at all.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:53 am

There are many ways to train a dog, but I will never use ecollar stimulation associated with a dog crowding and flushing a bird.

I will use it associated with a thoroughly trained, and understood by the dog, Whoa command, which may have been given while working a bird. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

For the OP I would stay completely away from using an ecollar on this dog around birds until and unless you have more background and training. This dog crowding birds is very common and easily fixed - either with lots of exposure to wild birds with you holding fire until and unless the dog points and lets you flush the bird, or ideally with some proper use of training birds in controlled situations prior to hunting.

Way too much risk for an unschooled handler to jump in and start applying ecollar stimulation to this dog while working birds.
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Re: Training a dog to point from further away - need help pl

Postby Urban_Redneck » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:53 am

AverageGuy wrote: The other approach is way more mechanical than I use to bring out a natural cautious point behavior, and teaches the dog the bird is a discipline situation, which I do not want at all. It yields dogs which flag on birds and who's inclination to point is directly linked to the close proximity of the handler vs a dog which becomes convinced that birds are wary and will fly away if it approaches too close.


After seeing several young dogs flagging and blinking birds in the past few months, I've coined the phrase "scared steady". It's awful to watch a dog get scared around birds.
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