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Hupping your pup

I have a fourteen week old Vizsla male. He is excellent on "heel", "sit" "stay" "come" "dead bird" etc...He is very intelligent and thanks to the advice on this pannel I think that I am raising him right. Just the other day I introduced the command "hup (immediate turn right) and "hup-hup" (immediate turn left). I am attempting to get him to quarter the area I wish him to hunt. I have been told that if I get him to "hup" back and forth, eventually he will fo it on his own and thus-naturally quarter (with my desired boundries). I began in a baseball field with short cut grass. I would jogg (him on 25' lead), reach the edge of my "limit" nd command "hup" and immediately change my direction. I would continue in a diagnal until I aga9in reached the desired boundary and then would command "Hup-hup" and immediately turn left, continuing in a diagnol, etc....

The problem I encountered is that after the first few "hups" he began to lag behind, ( I believe this to be because he was slightly confused) at first I was patient and would playfully call him (which did not totally fix the problem) he was still reluctant to follow (which he has never been, no-matter what the circumstances). Eventually (at my reluctance) I began to jerk him forward when he would lag. This progressed to his yelping frantically before we would reach a turn (and before I even applied pressure on the lead). Each time we would complete a row in this fashion I would praise hiom like I have never dine before (to ensure I was not upset at him but merely wanted him to "Hup"). Finally I decided to lay off the command for a week, to give him time to adjust.

Today I took him out and attempted to proceed where I had left off. I began with plenty of play (wrestling around and fetch) and then began to run with him off lead and command "hup" and change my direction as I would do before. He would just stop and sit down. I would command "come" and he would come, but as soon as I started the "hupping" again, he would sit. I played it off and went on to other things, But I need to teach him this, and as you have read I desperately need your advice. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Justin, Santa Barbara Ca

Hi Justin and thanks for participating in 'ask the trainer'. You are to be congratulated on your work with your young Vizsla, however, I do have some recommendations:

1. 14 weeks is a bit young to expect much from your bird dog. Vizsla's are a slower maturing breed among the pointing breeds so it is especially important to allow ample time for the dog to mature. An acquaintance of mine has been breeding Vizsla's for many years and has competed in the National Field Championships many times as well. He recommends, as do I, that you allow your Vizsla at least the first six months to just be a puppy and teach only the basics such as coming when called, 'no', etc..

2. You described the problem of lagging behind on hupping. According to you, he did fine the first few times then lagged behind. The lagging behind is a normal response for a puppy dog that is becoming bored or disinterested, which is common for such a young dog. Typically, we train a dog to perform quartering techniques then introduce birds to cement the relationship between the two. If the pup is not mature enough to understand what this is all about, you will not accomplish much. We also limit training time for puppies to about 10 minutes per session.

3. Now to the 'jerking' when he would not respond to your hup commands. The jerking was a form of punishment as perceived by the dog. Now he is simply refusing to be put in the situation again because he doesn't want punishment. The best solution for now is to stop all quartering training for now because you will probably feel forced to employ more harsh techniques to get him to obey which in fact, will do the opposite.

4. I recommend that you just take him afield with no commands on a long check cord and allow him to explore. Let him find some wild birds if possible or place some in launchers for him to 'discover'. Let him learn that the field is all about finding birds. Once he has found a number of birds, is very birdy, and has a strong desire to hunt forward to find birds, then you can go back to his field commands but this time incorporate them with planted birds to find. You may find that his is already quartering on his own now and that just calling him or walking the opposite direction yourself will change his direction. If this is true, then don't put any pressure on him to learn "hup and hup-hup".

I personally only use 'hup' for either direction since the gun dog knows your location and knows that the hup command is to bring him back across the direction you are facing.

For now, enjoy his puppyhood and relax. You have about 14 years of enjoyment ahead of you.

Happy Hunting.

Dave Jones
Chief's Brittanys
Guided Upland Bird Hunts, Gundog Training, Started Gundogs, and Brittany puppies
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