VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

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VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby Higgins » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:06 pm

https://youtu.be/nY4VpJjwWNM

Stella went to her new home today. This video is of her new owners learning to handle her in the field.

Stella is steady on her birds until released, does a nice flush/stop on cue and has a natural retrieve. In this video, I'm having the new owners take turns learning to handling Stella and shooting over her. At this stage, I connect (mentally and physically) the new handler and the dog together with the checkcord for a few sessions. There are a number of new associations that need to be made both for the dog and the handler. The dog needs to associate what he already knows to a new handler including the new voice, new timing, different body movements and cues, etc. The handler needs to learn how to read the dog and learn when to move, when to be still, when to cue the dog, etc.

We had a lot of fun. I'm sure Stella will be happy in her new home.
Brad Higgins
www.HigginsGundogs.com

Higgins Gundogs hunting etiquette:

Dogs: Stay in touch and handle well. Always honor another dog's point, be steady when necessary and manage the birds for the gun.
Handlers: Be silent in the hunt. Allow the dog the freedom to do his work. Nurture the natural retrieve.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:44 am

A dog which creeps on a check cord to within a couple of feet of a planted bird and buries a shot bird is ready to go home to owners who know very little about handling their dog and even less about training it? I hear the owner praising the dog as it returns from burying a bird?
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby Higgins » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:27 am

Hello AverageGuy,

That was me praising the dog.
Brad Higgins
www.HigginsGundogs.com

Higgins Gundogs hunting etiquette:

Dogs: Stay in touch and handle well. Always honor another dog's point, be steady when necessary and manage the birds for the gun.
Handlers: Be silent in the hunt. Allow the dog the freedom to do his work. Nurture the natural retrieve.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby orhunter » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:56 am

Seems this owner wants something entirely different than the rest of us. Maybe some time should be spent training the owner? But, none of us know what and where he hunts.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby Higgins » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:49 am

Hello Orhunter,

Yes, with my method we have different expectations and in fact, we hunt in a different, more natural way. All the dogs are expected to handle well, manage their birds (set the bird but don't flush until cued by the handler), Do an aggressive flush/stop when asked (our "alright" cue), be steady through wing, shot and fall, and then retrieve. Our dogs would never consider "creeping" (moving toward the bird with the intent to flush or chase). They manage or "stalk" to get close enough, without flushing the bird, to set the bird and be ready to do a flush/stop on our cue. It's what all predators naturally do, dogs included. Like I said, we hunt in a different way.

Another way to see it is that the bird is not ours, it's theirs. Ask them, they'll tell you. :) My job is to show them that If they're willing to work with me, I can be useful in getting that bird in their mouth. I tell them, I know I can't keep up and I can't smell a thing. But if you'll try a new strategy, be steady instead of chasing, I'll show you that I can be useful to the pack. I can kill the bird for you and get it in your mouth. They all take the deal.
Last edited by Higgins on Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Brad Higgins
www.HigginsGundogs.com

Higgins Gundogs hunting etiquette:

Dogs: Stay in touch and handle well. Always honor another dog's point, be steady when necessary and manage the birds for the gun.
Handlers: Be silent in the hunt. Allow the dog the freedom to do his work. Nurture the natural retrieve.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:06 am

I let my dogs relocate as they see fit on moving birds with me staying silent as they do. And I get my puppies retrieving to hand at a very young age. But I do everything in my power to teach the pup that advancing into the scent cone to within 2 feet of a bird off the dog's nose, is going to scare the bird into flight every time and never results in a bird to retrieve. I do this in silence with no commands letting the pup learn that lesson on its own. A dog allowed to repeatedly crowd released birds is going to put a lot of wild birds into premature flight no matter what the species or where they are being hunted.

Standing by while a dog buries a bird and then praising it, is making excuses for unacceptable performance in my world. Hence why I commented on both.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby Higgins » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:28 am

Hello AverageGuy,

I agree with your comment that we live in different worlds. Nothing wrong with that. Plenty of room for everyone out there. Let's agree to disagree.
Brad Higgins
www.HigginsGundogs.com

Higgins Gundogs hunting etiquette:

Dogs: Stay in touch and handle well. Always honor another dog's point, be steady when necessary and manage the birds for the gun.
Handlers: Be silent in the hunt. Allow the dog the freedom to do his work. Nurture the natural retrieve.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby orhunter » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:29 am

Higgins: I thought training and breeding was for the modern hunting dog to be a refinement (improved) of the natural predator dog? But a good dog can be trained to be whatever we want. I’m sure we all understand where you’re coming from, don’t want to come across as argumentative. Different strokes for different folks.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby Higgins » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:50 am

orhunter wrote:Higgins: I thought training and breeding was for the modern hunting dog to be a refinement (improved) of the natural predator dog? But a good dog can be trained to be whatever we want. I’m sure we all understand where you’re coming from, don’t want to come across as argumentative. Different strokes for different folks.


Hello orhunter,

That was a great post. Very thoughtful. In fact, it got me thinking. Is training and breeding designed to improve a dogs natural instincts? Nature vs nurture. This would be a great topic for discussion.

All the best,

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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby PL_Guy » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:38 am

AverageGuy wrote:I let my dogs relocate as they see fit on moving birds with me staying silent as they do. And I get my puppies retrieving to hand at a very young age. But I do everything in my power to teach the pup that advancing into the scent cone to within 2 feet of a bird off the dog's nose, is going to scare the bird into flight every time and never results in a bird to retrieve. I do this in silence with no commands letting the pup learn that lesson on its own. A dog allowed to repeatedly crowd released birds is going to put a lot of wild birds into premature flight no matter what the species or where they are being hunted.

Standing by while a dog buries a bird and then praising it, is making excuses for unacceptable performance in my world. Hence why I commented on both.


I detect substantial inconsistency and lack of clarity in the bolded segment above. You say you "teach the pup ...," and then you say, essentially, that the dog learns "that lesson on its own" (from the birds it encounters?). Then, in the last sentence, you suggest you actually prevent the dog from crowding! How do you do this "in silence with no commands?"

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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:12 am

Good of you to ask, Jere.

I use strong flying pigeons in launchers set in natural cover (little bluestem CRP). Let the pup search and find them and when they indicate they smell the bird if they turn into the scent and advance, I launch the bird, it flies away, the pup chases a short distance while I am walking on down the field in silence. The pup breaks off its chase and swings back to working in front of me. All done in silence.

If instead the pup points and holds the point such that I can swing around to the front, I launch and shoot the bird. Retrieve work, and bird/gun/launcher introductions precede the drills I just described. I start working the pups in this manner at 3-4 months of age which is perfect in that they are not big enough to go on long distance chases of the launched birds and I am able to reward the desired behavior while ignoring the other. Strong flying pigeons fly high and away and do not entice a puppy to chase long distances and they never return to ground where a pup can catch them so we avoid those problems.

As Higgins often says, the pup makes the decisions, I just present the less desirable consequences of roading in (pup never gets a bird) vs pointing (pup gets a fresh shot bird to retrieve). The tall natural cover and the pup's young age prevent protracted chases as do the pigeons up and away flight characteristics. In short we are hunting pigeons in natural cover and presenting them as a wild bird behaves. Not only does the approach reward pointing, but it also builds a strong search, use of wind and nose. I change fields and locations within those fields with every session to keep the pup hunting vs charging to same spot in the same bird field, which builds excellent search skills in the puppy at a very young age.

During the same period I train a whoa command completely away from birds in many situations e.g. on the tailgate, at an open door, while walking at heel and I move away. I overlay a whistle and build the command such that I can stop the pup on a run while in the field, but I am not applying it around birds at that stage of its development. I want the pup's bird work to be as natural as possible, between the bird and the pup, to retain style and intensity. After the pups first hunting season I use the well trained Whoa command to steady the pup to WSF, but I never use a whoa command to teach a puppy to point a bird. During the first hunting season I only shoot pointed birds but let the pup break and chase when the birds fly, shoot when it is safe and hold fire otherwise.

So no inconsistency at all, but glad you asked to the extent you thought there were some. I can explain more if need be, but the approach works extremely well. Pups learn to point at first scent and not advance into the scent cone. We also work wild birds several times a week starting as soon as the pup can get through the cover for short distances.

If you like you can search this board for my methods on nurturing my pups natural retrieve starting the day they arrive. They have all retrieved doves to hand starting at 5 -7 months (first bird season to open) and rolled on through their first hunting seasons from there. My current dog retrieves everything it finds while out hunting, Birds, sheds, dead heads, fur, to me. He is proud and happy to show me what he has found. Never have any of my puppies buried a bird. If one ever does, I will address it as needed.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby ryanr » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:32 am

PL_Guy wrote:
AverageGuy wrote:I let my dogs relocate as they see fit on moving birds with me staying silent as they do. And I get my puppies retrieving to hand at a very young age. But I do everything in my power to teach the pup that advancing into the scent cone to within 2 feet of a bird off the dog's nose, is going to scare the bird into flight every time and never results in a bird to retrieve. I do this in silence with no commands letting the pup learn that lesson on its own. A dog allowed to repeatedly crowd released birds is going to put a lot of wild birds into premature flight no matter what the species or where they are being hunted.

Standing by while a dog buries a bird and then praising it, is making excuses for unacceptable performance in my world. Hence why I commented on both.


I detect substantial inconsistency and lack of clarity in the bolded segment above. You say you "teach the pup ...," and then you say, essentially, that the dog learns "that lesson on its own" (from the birds it encounters?). Then, in the last sentence, you suggest you actually prevent the dog from crowding! How do you do this "in silence with no commands?"

Jere


Semantics. You can teach the pup by continually putting it into a situation where it learns (on it's own) that crowding and creeping on birds results in them always flying away. No commands needed, the bird is simply launched or if wild, it flushes on it's own whenever the dog creeps or cowds it and the dog essentially learns the lesson "on its own." Or another way of putting it is "the birds teach the dog."
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby PL_Guy » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:03 pm

AverageGuy wrote:Good of you to ask, Jere.

I use strong flying pigeons in launchers set in natural cover (little bluestem CRP). Let the pup search and find them and when they indicate they smell the bird if they turn into the scent and advance, I launch the bird, it flies away, the pup chases a short distance while I am walking on down the field in silence. The pup breaks off its chase and swings back to working in front of me. All done in silence.

If instead the pup points and holds the point such that I can swing around to the front, I launch and shoot the bird. Retrieve work, and bird/gun/launcher introductions proceed the drills I just described. I start working the pups in this manner at 3-4 months of age which is perfect in that they are not big enough to go on long distance chases of the launched birds and I am able to reward the desired behavior while ignoring the other. Strong flying pigeons fly high and away and do not entice a puppy to chase long distances and they never return to ground where a pup can catch them so we avoid those problems.

As Higgins often says, the pup makes the decisions, I just present the less desirable consequences of roading in (pup never gets a bird) vs pointing (pup gets a fresh shot bird to retrieve). The tall natural cover and the pup's young age prevent protracted chases as do the pigeons up and away flight characteristics. In short we are hunting pigeons in natural cover and presenting them as a wild bird behaves. Not only does the approach reward pointing, but it also builds a strong search, use of wind and nose. I change fields and locations within those fields with every session to keep the pup hunting vs charging to same spot in the same bird field, which builds excellent search skills in the puppy at a very young age.

During the same period I train a whoa command completely away from birds in many situations e.g. on the tailgate, at an open door, while walking at heel and I move away. I overlay a whistle and build the command such that I can stop the pup on a run while in the field, but I am not applying it around birds at that stage of its development. I want the pup's bird work to be as natural as possible, between the bird and the pup, to retain style and intensity. After the pups first hunting season I use the well trained Whoa command to steady the pup to WSF, but I never use a whoa command to teach a puppy to point a bird. During the first hunting season I only shoot pointed birds but let the pup break and chase when the birds fly, shoot when it is safe and hold fire otherwise.

So no inconsistency at all, but glad you asked to the extent you thought there were some. I can explain more if need be, but the approach works extremely well. Pups learn to point at first scent and not advance into the scent cone. We also work wild birds several times a week starting at as soon as the pup can get through the cover for short distances.

If you like you can search this board for my methods on nurturing my pups natural retrieve starting the day they arrive. They have all retrieved doves to hand starting at 5 -7 months (first bird season to open) and rolled on through their first hunting seasons from there. My current dog retrieves everything it finds while out hunting, Birds, sheds, dead heads, fur, to me. He is proud and happy to show me what he has found. Never have any of my puppies buried a bird. If one ever does, I will address it as needed.


Thanks for explaining/amplifying on your earlier comment. As ryanr pointed out it appears my issue was more with semantics than with substance. Except for the off-birds training of whoa, what you do is not too unlike the West/Gibbons method as modernized for launcher and (Higgins) releaser use by Maurice Lindley. I, too, have expounded on this site - particularly on the W/G process.

Yes many dogs are "proud and happy to show me what he has found." During our recent five weeks in Interior Alaska the Lab was on a cleanout run at a favorite spot we visit most every evening just as the sun is about to set. There was a travel trailer from Arizona parked there and the next thing we knew here comes Rufous with dead spruce grouse in his mouth. Then he dashed back and got a ruffed grouse. This time we saw he was taking these dead birds off the steps of the travel trailer :) No one was home so we took the birds back and moved on!

Jere
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So much to learn, So little time!
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Re: VIDEO: Stella Ready for Her New Home

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:57 pm

:lol: Good story Jere. Happy Hunting.
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