WPG Pointing Issues

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WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Shooter » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:14 pm

First off, I have been lurking this forum for a little over 2 years while deciding which breed to get, training programs and tips, etc. I want to thank everyone in advance for everything I've learned. A lot of knowledgeable folks and good info here.

First time dog trainer, and first pointing breed (grew up with Springer Spaniels and Labs). I have a 10 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. To this point I have only done positive reinforcement work with her. Have not introduced pressure. She comes and whoas well, retrieves dummies well, retrieves birds ok, and is gun broke. Since she was 3 months old she's had many wild bird (grouse, quail, chukar) contacts. This dog is used only for hunting, no testing.

My issue. When she was 8 months old she still had not pointed. I bought a launcher and pigeons and began some sessions. Bringing her in on check cord, crosswind, launching the pigeon when the dog hit the scent. On the 3rd session, she pointed and allowed me to walk in front of her and "flush" the pigeon, which I shot for her and she retrieved after some coaxing. I thought we made a breakthrough but it's been a disaster ever since.

Since then, I've done the same launcher routine, only she is fighting the checkcord and will not point. At first scent I've held her and tried to relax her and staunch her up to no avail. I tried ditching the check cord, and she hits the scent and bolts right to the pigeon. I launch the bird as soon as she hits scent. Grouse season has been open for about a month and she does the same thing, hits scent and bolts towards the bird/covey. I'm not shooting birds she doesn't point so she hasn't had a wild bird shot over her. Between the pigeons and wild birds she's done this approximately 30 times after her one and only point.

It seems to me the reward for her is the hunting and flush. She could care less about actually getting the bird. She hunts and searches extremely hard. I keep doing some launcher work between hunts but she just doesn't seem to get it and I'm at a loss of how to "show" her.

Any ideas?
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby marsh » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:31 pm

IMO tough to say without seeing and knowing the dog. My friend with Griffs went to a pinch collar and stopped the dog as it hit the scent cone. His female steadied up pretty quickly. My PP "roaded" scent hard after tasting feathers. Perhaps start introducing force gradually until she gives the response you want. She is still young. She will get it!! Sounds like she has grear drive... love it, but curse it too!
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Kiger2 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:14 am

Seems to me she has no idea that she cant catch every bird she smells. Perhaps with this particular dog, shooting that first bird for her might not be time appropriate, or it could be something else. But if you have been having her retrieve birds, she just may think thats the end goal.

For me, I would convince her she cant catch a flying bird. In other words she needs to be de-chased. Sounds like you have pigeons. I would forget the launchers, just take a pigeon and wave it in her face then throw it so it flys and she cant catch. Don't let her put her mouth on the bird. Use strong flyers and big field if you have it. Throw a bird and let her chase. I would do this until you were both very bored and she just watches the bird leave. If she doesn't understand that she cant catch a flying bird, then there is no penalty for her if she is busting them is there?

Lots of drive in the dog which is good, you cant really put that in. But I think you are approaching a crossroad. Nothing wrong with positive reinforcement you haven't hurt a thing. But It may be likely that you will have to move on to using pressure. It may be the only thing that will get you to be able to work with this dog. She's plenty old enough and in my opinion past due for some solid obedience. Get with someone that can help you with an ecollar. But definitely try the dechase drill first.

I have two friends coming over next week with young dogs. First thing we will do is dechase.

Where are you located?

And good luck!!!
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Doc E » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:24 am

It's amazing how dechasing will bring out a good solid point.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby orhunter » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:40 am

I think she's had far too much exposure to pen raised birds and artificial training situations. New owners of pointing dogs can get so much into training, they forget the dog. You can't train for every situation and think if you do, it's a reasonable substitute for wild birds and hunting. Training does not make a hunting dog. Training is for fine tuning a dog after it's learned the basics through that first year of hunting.

Put away all the training gear, let it gather some dust. All you need is an e-collar with a tone or vibration feature and use it to teach whoa. When you get to the point where the dog responds reliably to the collar without a verbal command, the dog will be ready to wear the collar while hunting. But, the dog should be wearing an e-collar every time you are out in the field whether it be for training/hunting or just going for a walk. You may have no intentions of using it but it should still be worn. If you put the collar on only when you plan on using it, the dog will become collar wise and this needs to be avoided. The dog should associate the collar with everything fun that happens, not just the discomfort it sometimes provides. When the dog refuses the tone/vibration command, you need to go instantly to volts. Set the collar on the lowest setting that gets the desired results. I don't like to nick dogs with high voltage but rather hold the button down at a lower setting till the dog decides it really doesn't like the feeling. You can use whatever method works best for you and your dog. You want the dog to learn it cannot refuse the tone/vibration command under any circumstances. Whether it be in your yard or out in the field, never.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Shooter » Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:13 pm

Thanks for the replies!

marsh wrote:IMO tough to say without seeing and knowing the dog. My friend with Griffs went to a pinch collar and stopped the dog as it hit the scent cone. His female steadied up pretty quickly. My PP "roaded" scent hard after tasting feathers. Perhaps start introducing force gradually until she gives the response you want. She is still young. She will get it!! Sounds like she has grear drive... love it, but curse it too!


My plan has been to introduce pressure after her first hunting season. Formal whoa and heel training with pinch collar, then overlay the e-collar. I'm a little hesitant to initially introduce pressure in the presence of birds, but it might be what she needs.

Kiger2 wrote:Seems to me she has no idea that she cant catch every bird she smells. Perhaps with this particular dog, shooting that first bird for her might not be time appropriate, or it could be something else. But if you have been having her retrieve birds, she just may think thats the end goal.

For me, I would convince her she cant catch a flying bird. In other words she needs to be de-chased. Sounds like you have pigeons. I would forget the launchers, just take a pigeon and wave it in her face then throw it so it flys and she cant catch. Don't let her put her mouth on the bird. Use strong flyers and big field if you have it. Throw a bird and let her chase. I would do this until you were both very bored and she just watches the bird leave. If she doesn't understand that she cant catch a flying bird, then there is no penalty for her if she is busting them is there?

Lots of drive in the dog which is good, you cant really put that in. But I think you are approaching a crossroad. Nothing wrong with positive reinforcement you haven't hurt a thing. But It may be likely that you will have to move on to using pressure. It may be the only thing that will get you to be able to work with this dog. She's plenty old enough and in my opinion past due for some solid obedience. Get with someone that can help you with an ecollar. But definitely try the dechase drill first.

I have two friends coming over next week with young dogs. First thing we will do is dechase.

Where are you located?

And good luck!!!


We have done a fair amount of retrieving. She's retrieved 4 dead birds prior to shooting the pigeon over her. I'm confident she knows she can't catch the bird. She's never caught a live one. I think the reward for her is finding and flushing it. My concern with the de-chasing drill you described is does that have potential to turn her off of birds?
I agree completely she is physically and emotionally ready for pressure and formal obedience. I've been hesitant to start that process while we're in hunting mode. But maybe we can do both? I'm in NE Oregon.

orhunter wrote:I think she's had far too much exposure to pen raised birds and artificial training situations. New owners of pointing dogs can get so much into training, they forget the dog. You can't train for every situation and think if you do, it's a reasonable substitute for wild birds and hunting. Training does not make a hunting dog. Training is for fine tuning a dog after it's learned the basics through that first year of hunting.

Put away all the training gear, let it gather some dust. All you need is an e-collar with a tone or vibration feature and use it to teach whoa. When you get to the point where the dog responds reliably to the collar without a verbal command, the dog will be ready to wear the collar while hunting. But, the dog should be wearing an e-collar every time you are out in the field whether it be for training/hunting or just going for a walk. You may have no intentions of using it but it should still be worn. If you put the collar on only when you plan on using it, the dog will become collar wise and this needs to be avoided. The dog should associate the collar with everything fun that happens, not just the discomfort it sometimes provides. When the dog refuses the tone/vibration command, you need to go instantly to volts. Set the collar on the lowest setting that gets the desired results. I don't like to nick dogs with high voltage but rather hold the button down at a lower setting till the dog decides it really doesn't like the feeling. You can use whatever method works best for you and your dog. You want the dog to learn it cannot refuse the tone/vibration command under any circumstances. Whether it be in your yard or out in the field, never.


I'm glad you chimed in orhunter. When I was browsing these forums formulating a training plan I really liked your approach. Let the birds teach the dog. I did exactly that. Between 3 months to 8 months her only contacts were wild birds, she's in the neighborhood of 150 flushes during that time. I saw no inkling of pointing which is why I bought the launcher and pigeons. She's had exactly 11 encounters with pigeons in launchers since Aug 1st to today. I don't think the pigeons have hurt anything, in fact they at least showed me she does in fact have some pointing instinct. Which is encouraging.

Again, thank you all for the comments.

The common theme is she needs pressure. Should I quit hunting her and exposing her to birds to work on obedience/pressure introduction? Then go back to birds and whoa her with pressure when she hits scent? Can we work on both at the same time?

Does de-chasing make more sense?
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Shooter » Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:28 pm

I did a search for de-chasing and came across this thread viewtopic.php?f=8&t=19726

Not sure how I missed it before, but I understand what kiger2 is talking about with the de-chasing. Makes sense. I think we'll take a couple weeks off of hunting, work on whoa while introducing the ecollar, then get into de-chasing.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby orhunter » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:09 pm

What appears to be the problem is the dog developed some very bad habits at a young age and now it can't shake them no matter the effort put into it. The best solution is to not put the dog in situation where it will fail. The more failure it has, the more it becomes habit.

Pups develop their points at various ages and trying to force the issue before the pup's time is what causes failure. Doing it time after time makes it habit. The dog is simply doing what it was trained to do. Failure should have consequences that outweigh the pups desire to flush/chase, whatever. Any command that does not get the correct response should have consequences attached. This is how the owner become alpha.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby 3drahthaars » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:52 pm

Pretty much on the same page as orhunter, especially the first time v-dog owners getting caught up in training....

Take the pup hunting! Wild birds train bird dogs.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Meridiandave » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:10 pm

Is the pup really whoa trained as you say? If so bring it in on a lead and force it to point.

Also get the dog on wild birds like everyone says.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby ForestDump » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:41 am

One thing I'd remember is she's still a pup. Right now she's having fun finding and chasing birds which is frustrating when you want a dog to be ready right away but you have to look at the big picture. This dog will be hunting for another decade it's fine. I would not try woahing a dog into a point or forcing it to point.

Go back to your yard work and work with woah. Get the dog standing while flying pigeons around her.

Now go back to the check cord and launchers. Check the pup into the scent cone and when she catches the scent of the bird pop the launcher and let her chase a bit till she gets to the end of the cc. Then lead her away. Don't get frustrated, stay calm and keep this up in short sessions every day until it clicks. When it does don't be too in a hurry to start shooting and retrieving. Love her up and keep repeating. Then add retrieving down the road.

Don't do this without a cc. WIld birds are great but it doesn't do much good if your dog is chasing birds into the next country and it takes 5-15 minutes to get her back and working again.

Once the dog is pointing and understands that she has to point or she'll ruin the game then I would start working on taking some of the chase out of her.

Keep in mind shes a pup. Stick to a plan, dont drop the check cord, keep calm and carry on. Also a second set of hands will really help.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby orhunter » Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:20 am

For chasing, I let my pup run up to where the birds flushed and then correct her with the e-collar. First with the whoa tone, then volts. Again with the setting on the collar low enough it was no more than uncomfortable and hold the button down till she stopped. This way she was less likely to associate the collar with the birds.

One goal is to get a dog trained to the point we never have to speak to them in the field. There is no whoaing to facilitate a point or to stop creeping. It takes a bit for the dog to get there but they do eventually with enough bird contacts. How we conduct ourselves has a lot to do with how the dog reacts to birds. We never want to challenge the dog for the bird or steal a point. There are lots of things folks do to make a dog unsteady and speaking to them while on point is one. Once a person says something, pointing ends and is now following a command. We want the dog to hold the point as long as possible so it understands this is part of the game. Let the dog maintain control of the situation. Another is walking next to the dog when going in for the flush. Need to circle around and avoid getting close to the dog. The dog owns the bird until it takes to the air, respect the dog.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Chadwick » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:14 pm

Shooter,

Before you get too far along, you might want to look at some of the training techniques used by Brad Higgins.

http://higginsgundogs.com/the-higgins-m ... brushpile/

I use it and have very good success. It teaches the dog what to do in a controlled situation, so the dog learns the correct associations. Once those associations are in place, they are transferred to field work. It teaches the dog that working as a team gets the dog the bird.
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby Smilin Jack » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:16 pm

Orhunter , That Last sentence is the one thing I forget till sometimes it is too late :lol:
If You Can't be a Good Example then You will just have to Serve as a Horrible Warning
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Re: WPG Pointing Issues

Postby GRIFF MAN » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:06 pm

Shooter,

I have trained ALOT of Griffons and most have been easy to train, I have seen your dogs issue come up. What I feel is that it is more of a competition between you and her. She is trying to get to the bird before you do. You kinda broke my cardinal rule of shooting birds for young dogs....I usually wait til the dog is older, so this doesn't happen. Not a big deal, time to move on.
I'll tell you what I did this summer with a 10 month old male that had the same issue all it takes is a good supply of pigeons This male would pull the owner through a brick wall when it got sent. It acknowledged it and then pick up the speed !!
What I did was plant homers in the launchers and take the cord off. It felt like there was no competition and hunted the field. On the first bird it scented it moved a slow step and I launched it, didn't say a word and moved on to the next bird. 2nd bird it ran over and snapped pointed it on the back side...very intense point. It held until the owner came in to flush/launch. The dog learned it was working with not against. We did one more bird which was a good contact and put the dog away and ran a few other dogs. Then brought it back out to run later in the morning.
The second run I let it drag alight cc and again had homers in the launcher. This time when it went on point I had the owner go to the bird and I went to the cc to not allow a run, he handled it well. Then on the 5 th bird,2nd of the session, when the dog established point I gave it a wing clipped as a positive reinforcement.

2 weeks later that dog went 112 Prize 1 at navhda NA test. It went from no point to reliably pointing quit quickly after it learned the owner was not in competition with him.

I would also say, like has been mentioned on here, not to whoa a dog into a point and go out and have fun hunting let the dog learn on wild birds you can start up training in the spring.

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