Duck Search

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

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Re: Duck Search

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:49 pm

Kiger, it has been in the plan to put some handle on this dog, as I have done with my prior GWPs. He just turned 2 and we have worked through some higher priority training items to get where we are now. The dog has had a decent amount of varied waterfowl hunting experience as well as dove hunting, so he is already keen to take some direction from me as to where to go to recover downed birds at the start of the retrieve. And he will continue to take a line using his nose as he goes as shown in the videos. I am a big fan of Duck Search training and the skill comes into play alot in recovering birds where we hunt, much more so than will long range blind retrieve handling, but having both in the toolkit is for the best so that is where we are headed in our training now.

I like the order I have purposefully trained these subjects in, as building the dog's confidence and experience to work cooperatively but independently to recover game is now in place, and now I will teach him how I can play a greater role in helping him be even more successful by directing him to where to begin his search. The smartweed marshes and flooded corn we hunt make it critical a dog not become over dependent on the handler and come out of cover looking for direction the handler cannot give and only the dog's nose can provide.

Following on GH's comment I watched a Walking Baseball 20 minute video this morning and Evan says the obvious when recommending training in low cover flat fields, "you cannot handle a dog you cannot see" . The inability to see and handle a dog comes into play alot where I hunt, but as I posted at the start, a dog needs to begin its search in the right direction/area and that is where some light handling will come into play the most in our hunting.

GH, I have a freezer full of dead pigeons and breasted out greenheads and canadas that I will use to keep things interesting when we get to working blind retrieves in cover, or before if it seems we need them sooner. The dog is maturing and wants to work. I am keeping our sessions short and he is eager for it at the moment.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:39 pm

These dog's are funny AG. Most just hate being told to do something; like handling. Some love it. I have made a great game of it with the pup I'm bring along now and she LOVES it. Looks like a lab out there. I never force her on it, keep sessions short, and mix it up. These dog's thrive on interesting things. Lord help anyone though that pushes one hard enough to get into a battle of will with one. Most will lose. When you get one that WILL learn lines and handling, you have the greatest animal on the planet. That's what I've always like about pointing lab's.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:58 pm

Agree with GH. Walking baseball is IMO the best way to teach a vdog to handle. Never found the baseball diamond much help (but won't hurt either). I bought Graham's walking baseball video several years ago and I think I would watch several other ones before settling in on one. If I remember correctly he uses it more to work the dog against suction and not so much as a generic teaching drill. Anyway, it is a drill you can play in your front yard and expand to whatever size field you want. A few kibble pieces after a retrieve will have your dog looking like a Labrador in no time while doing drills.

The issue of having ducks fall in the decoys and the dog wanting to return there (instead of taking a line through or angled off from the decoys for an unseen fall) is a problem for all dogs unless specifically trained for that situation because of the suction. For the gun dog that's not going to be a FT candidate I'd suggest looking at Milner's specific drill for that in his book, Absolutely Positive Gun Dog Training. He calls it the "unseen cripple" drill. His book doesn't dwell much on handling but does give enough to get by. Probably best for vdog owners.

With respect to handling in general for vdogs, if someone is planning to run the UT in NAVHDA they do not want to risk their dog "popping" or having any dependence on their handler because the test is all about the dog hunting on its own. Any chance the dog would bend towards getting help will affect the score. Once the UT is done though there's really good reason for the dog to have handling skills for most hunting. At that point one can avoid undue dependence by teaching the drill for the dog to "hunt dead" or "dead bird" - where the command tells the dog he's on his own and will get absolutely no help from the handler. Even though I work hard on handling drills I'm always shooting off an unseen dummy from the launcher and telling the dog "dead bird". This is another drill that dogs love doing.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:20 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:Agree with GH. Walking baseball is IMO the best way to teach a vdog to handle. Never found the baseball diamond much help (but won't hurt either). I bought Graham's walking baseball video several years ago and I think I would watch several other ones before settling in on one. If I remember correctly he uses it more to work the dog against suction and not so much as a generic teaching drill. Anyway, it is a drill you can play in your front yard and expand to whatever size field you want. A few kibble pieces after a retrieve will have your dog looking like a Labrador in no time while doing drills.

The issue of having ducks fall in the decoys and the dog wanting to return there (instead of taking a line through or angled off from the decoys for an unseen fall) is a problem for all dogs unless specifically trained for that situation because of the suction. For the gun dog that's not going to be a FT candidate I'd suggest looking at Milner's specific drill for that in his book, Absolutely Positive Gun Dog Training. He calls it the "unseen cripple" drill. His book doesn't dwell much on handling but does give enough to get by. Probably best for vdog owners.

With respect to handling in general for vdogs, if someone is planning to run the UT in NAVHDA they do not want to risk their dog "popping" or having any dependence on their handler because the test is all about the dog hunting on its own. Any chance the dog would bend towards getting help will affect the score. Once the UT is done though there's really good reason for the dog to have handling skills for most hunting. At that point one can avoid undue dependence by teaching the drill for the dog to "hunt dead" or "dead bird" - where the command tells the dog he's on his own and will get absolutely no help from the handler. Even though I work hard on handling drills I'm always shooting off an unseen dummy from the launcher and telling the dog "dead bird". This is another drill that dogs love doing.


Pretty important part there. Teaching a V dog to handle WILL cause popping. A hunter doesn't care; he just handles him. Different in a V dog test though.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:39 pm

That is why I taught Duck Search First along with it being the more critical and used skill where we hunt. I say that assuming that the dog is setup to get marks on most birds while hunting. Some other thread mentioned throwing $2 shells. Done that. But now days when hunting my young dogs, I carry a ziplock bag of rocks. My folding stool has a zipper compartment bag and I keep it there. And I also have a wrist rocket sling shot. Old school throwing or slinging a rock goes a long ways to giving a puppy a visual que where you want it go, until you teach something better.

Bruce, I bought that book when you recommended it before, will revisit the chapter you mention.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:57 pm

Agree AG, you did it in the correct sequence.

I thought maybe you should have parked your truck on the other side of the pond so pup couldn't go back for a sandwich!!

Darn nice post.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby LongHammer » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:52 pm

Getting a vdog to take a straight line can be the most frustrating thing ever. This is a great trust building exercise. If you say a duck is out there Spud believes it.
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Re: Duck Search

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:26 am

Yep LH, that is the key to Duck Search, there is always a duck to be found, just have to keep looking. Great mindset to develop in a dog.
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