E-collar and duck search

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E-collar and duck search

Postby Densa44 » Wed May 16, 2018 9:31 am

I was just training a dog from a friend, and we were working on sight blinds. I do this prior to going to the water for duck search training. Bear in mind that you need a 4 in duck search to get a UT 1 pz.

When I sent the dog, she went about 15 yards and stopped and looked at me and started to head back in my direction. This is called popping by the retriever people. It is caused by the handler stopping the dog because the handler didn't like the line. In this case by using the e-collar in addition to yelling at the dog.

The handler was making all kinds of arm and body motions at the line to set the dog up for the blind, the dog wasn't paying any attention at all. This makes sense from the dog'e point of view, she is getting the bird not the handler.

Here is my advice; give the dog something to look at, I use a white bucket, place the dummies in a line with the bucket but no closer than 20 yards from the pail. you can make these retrieves quite long 300 yards plus is O.K. on the ground, have more than one dummy, make the dog go 2xs and farther the second time, I fumble the dummy when she brings it back just to make sure she will pick it up if that is what happens in the test, (she thinks that is great fun), scent your dummies, I use vanilla extract, it is cheap and safe. NEVER stop a dog on a blind/duck search, if she will leave your side that is the main thing. If she won't carry the distance, shorten up and then after she gets the first one back up and send her for the second one.

I took the e-collar off of the dog, also her regular collar and the dog went out toward the bucket like a shot. When I sent her again for the longer one she went with enthusiasm. That was the end of the lessons and she barked at me to send her again.

Make it fun people. If you have an e-collar take lessons yourself before you ruin your dog.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Wed May 16, 2018 10:14 am

I used a white bucket to teach FTP and then to cross water on a blind. It worked well. I also used an ecollar correctly and it worked well. I did not start blind retrieve handling until after our Prize 1 UT and even now I stop once the dog in in the area and let it search. Hunting benefits more from a little handling and good search.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby JTracyII » Wed May 16, 2018 10:30 am

Good stuff guys! I am using the white bucket drills now with my hound and she has been more consistent in her crossing than my last hound, and at a younger age. She is now crossing water and finding frozen ducks on pretty small water and retrieving them to hand. The ducks are close together and it is not a long swim across. She will retrieve from about 75-100 on land with bumpers around the bucket. I may extend that out to 200 in order to get her comfortable going long distances away from me to retrieve like I may ask her to do in water. My plan is to not spread them out until she is close to 100 percent crossing on a few different ponds at different distances across to retrieve piles of both dummies and frozen ducks. Then, I will spread the ducks out on far bank and eventually add live ducks for the retrieve.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby JTracyII » Wed May 16, 2018 10:34 am

Densa,

I have been placing the bumpers close to the bucket. Why do you place them no closer than 20 yards? Is this to induce a search once close to the bucket instead of relying too much on it? Just curious?
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby Densa44 » Wed May 16, 2018 1:14 pm

I don't want the bucket to play a role except for the aiming point. I don't want the dog to connect the dummies and the bucket, thus the bucket is still some way off when she finds the dummy.

Went to water to-day, by myself as usual. 2 frozen ducks thrown down a hill as far as I could throw. About half way down a steep hill. Drove to the other side, brought her to the line and removed e-collar, dog became excited, she has learned the drill (I hope) . I give her a chance to think about what we are doing and when I think that she is tuned in, I kick her off, she swims the 50 plus yards at top speed, the wind is in her face and so is the sun, not an easy retrieve, When she gets to the far bank the wind becomes an asset, she can smell a duck a mile away. Goes straight to the bird and heads back. Drops duck 3 feet behind me, note to self, fix this next! She picks up the bird and gives it to me.

Now here is the test, will she go again? I hold the duck behind me and let her look across the pond, her head moves back and forth as she watches the live birds, she looks to the far side and I send her. Not so confident this time and swings in a big arc but keeps going. When she gets to the far side, same as before, gets a whiff of the duck and comes back. This time didn't drop it. Maybe fatigue helps?

BTW the pond is "U" shaped so shore running is discouraged.

I then quit! It has taken me 50 years to learn to quit when the dog does the test. I won't tell you what I used to do. We'll wait a day or two and try a different location.

Remember that you need a "4" in duck search to get a 1 pz. Teach on land and then move to the water. Teach don't test. At the line the best advice I ever got was "your only role is to help your dog". Good luck folks.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Wed May 16, 2018 1:31 pm

Densa44 wrote: Goes straight to the bird and heads back. Drops duck 3 feet behind me, note to self, fix this next! She picks up the bird and gives it to me.


Good reason to leave the ecollar on while training Duck Search in my experience. I don't use it until/unless I need it, and a dog dropping the bird is precisely when I need it.

Working the dog across the water going into the wind is actually the easiest way for the dog, as any good dog will use its nose and be pulled across the water because of it. It is the approach I use initially when teaching them to expand across water. But once I have them doing it I will work them with the wind at their back so they learn it will not always be that easy, but there is still a duck to be found.

Even then I will try to send the dog on a vector where if the dog holds the line it is sent on, it will be downwind of the bird once it passes it. I also use a kayak and drag dead ducks laying a trail across the water and send the dog where it will cross the trail and then learn to follow its nose to the duck. I do all that before I move to live ducks as the last step. If a dog will search well for dead ducks they do all the better when a live one is cut loose.

And I place my dead ducks in cover but in the water. I do not want to condition the dog to get out on the land and search the bank while training for NAVHDA Duck Search. I will place some dead ducks on the land across the water later when training for Blind Retrieve handling once the strong search habits are in place. Even then I tread lightly so as to not erode the strong independent search I worked to instill in the dog.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby Densa44 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:11 am

I'm not going to quibble with my brother trainers, every dog is different and has different life experiences. One point that maybe we can make that will help the new comers, all the water is different! Sometimes very different, full of logs, a large open lake, irrigation ponds, a messy beaver pond etc.

It is a very big help if the dog and handler can see the water before the test and if allowed train in the water. I'll let the judges add their opinions here, I've seen 6 different NAVHDA test sites and they were all very different. It is hard for a young dog to go from what it is used to to water it has never seen before.

Just a tip.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Thu May 17, 2018 11:35 am

Good advice on scoping out the training area. My current dog tested in downed and standing flooded timber that required a dog to swim and crawl over large floating logs in swimming depth water in order to expand its search, or otherwise turn back to the bank it was sent from. Without prior exposure all dogs turned back the first time they were sent in training because of the floating logs blocking their advance and there being attractive and logical cover to search along the bank it was sent from. By far the most difficult search water of the 7 I have seen.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby Densa44 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:52 am

AG was that the Pacific Northwest by chance? I've heard that they cleaned up the pond but it is only a rumor.

I ran a dog in one like that in Ontario (Retriever) and she was a puppy. The live duck was a mark and it lay down behind something the size of a telephone pole. My dog swam through the small stuff and got to the big log and looked back at me with the saddest look I've ever seen. At that moment we heard a load QUACK, the dog's ears went up, she spun around, over the log and back with the duck. That was my first trail and my first ribbon, I've been hooked ever since!

That was over 50 years ago, wow where has the time gone?
Pine Ridges Ginnieve NA 112 UT pz 1 200
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby ryanr » Thu May 17, 2018 8:53 pm

Ok, interesting. I was taught to only use live ducks for teaching search.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Fri May 18, 2018 6:50 am

That test Duck Search water is in IA.

Good story on the Duck. :lol:
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Fri May 18, 2018 7:07 am

ryanr wrote:Ok, interesting. I was taught to only use live ducks for teaching search.


I show a young pup a live duck on the water so it can get exposed and caught up in the chase. Then we hunt teal season and waterfowl season. After that first hunting season I train duck search beginning with dead ducks placed all around the water at prominent structure e.g. willow clumps, floating vegetation clumps, land rise above water. It teaches the dog to search towards objectives when sent to Fetch, (just like when we plant birds in a field and the dog is told to "Hunt em" and it runs towards the nearest likely cover), and it teaches the dog that searching towards each objective is likely to produce a duck to retrieve.

Having conditioned the dog in this way, when they go to an objective and do not find a duck they will quickly head towards the next one. Conditioning the dog to move all around constantly searching makes it very likely they will hit scent of live duck when used later in training. I place 6 spread out dead ducks, or pigeons, or goose wings and send the dog multiple times in a row. The dog always finds a prize to retrieve and that builds more confidence and drive in the dog.

Then I use the live ducks last which just fires them up all the more. I have posted more detail a few times on this board if you are inclined to read it. I learned the approach from a good GSP guy in our NAVHDA chapter long ago and it has worked well with my dogs.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby Densa44 » Fri May 18, 2018 8:24 am

Where I live we have lots and lots of wild birds and no hunters. When the season starts we get lots of hunting opportunities and the dogs get lots of work. This powers them up for the duck search. IME nothing beats hunting to get a dog dialed in.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Fri May 18, 2018 8:59 am

Yes, hunting a dog on wild game is why we have them. I get my pups as much of it as possible in their first season before I start into formal Duck Search training the following Spring/Summer.

Ryan and anyone else interested.

While Spud and I were doing our morning run with a couple of blind retrieves mixed in, I thought about this thread and others so more. It is often heard that training for Duck Search trains a dog to behave in an independent willy nilly fashion that is counter productive to getting the dog into the area of the fall quickly when hunting waterfowl.

I think that is a great benefit of the approach I use, in that it is teaching the dog to line and hunt towards objectives. Each time I send the dog I am lining it up on an objective. During all the early phases of training I will have placed a dead bird at that objective. The dog is learning to visualize the objective and take the line. Which is really helpful/useful to actual waterfowl hunting. I use the wind in the face of the dog in the early stages to make sure it succeeds as it swims towards objectives and depending on the water and the dog, I may let the young dog watch me set out the ducks at each objective in the early stages of training. I can then repeat the drills at the same location without letting the dog watch and I will switch the placement, but still use the wind such that dog will catch scent and hunt towards the new objective as it heads towards the one I lined it up on when sent. The dog will go search towards objectives it has found a duck at previously. And down the road the dog will do the same at new water as it has always had so much success taking lines towards prominent features in the water.

Using dead ducks in the early and intermediate phases gives me alot more control of the situation than a live duck does. In fact when training at the flooded timber location I mentioned earlier in the thread, mine and others, first attempts at using live ducks were very unsuccessful due to the the floating logs also preventing the ducks from advancing and instead they too were drawn back to the flooded vegetation cover all up and down the same bank the dogs were being sent from. Thus teaching/rewarding the dogs to search the close bank it was sent from instead of expanding.

Those training problems do not occur with dead ducks. And using the kayak dragging dead ducks behind provides the early stages of teaching the young dog to track the scent across the water to the duck while still having control over their final placement that is not possible using live ducks ...

The pups I have worked with had the goods to do 4 level Duck Search when they were born. I am just doing some conditioning. But I am doing it in a way that builds a good foundation for using my dogs to recover waterfowl while hunting. I think training with live ducks from the get go does not incorporate the elements of the dog learning to visualize and focus on distant objectives and take a line across water nearly as well as the dead duck approach does.

Something to think about.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby J D Patrick » Fri May 18, 2018 9:20 am

great info in this thread - thanks folks
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