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Flagging on Point II

I have a 18 month old GSP, she is a quick dog in the field, handles easily, has a quick soft retrieve. Her problem is she flags on point. I must point out she has never flagged on a wild bird, only pen raised. I know pen raised birds act different from wild birds, unfortunately, she encounters pen raised birds in competition events. She has never been allowed to catch a bird, and the birds generally are decent fliers. I have tried moving in quick, flushing the bird, shooting, so as to not make her wait. I have tried moving in slowly and making 'hissing' noises to tighten her up. Not much has worked. She has her Junior Hunter and is trained through Senior which I will be doing this Fall. I know she is going to be knocked hard on her flagging. She has excellent field lines. I have also tried taking her off birds for a while to see if that helped and moving my bird fields around so she doesn't always go to the same spot. HELP!

Hi Judy,
The bad news is you have a prime example of "the hurrier I go the behinder I get" :-). This is what happens when folks rush to get titles. At 18 months she is still very much a puupy and you have turned her into a senior hunter. The problem is, she is not ready.

The good news is , at 18 months, this bad training is not set in stone and can be fixed. I'm gonna tell you something you may not want to hear but this is for the dogs sake, not yours. Take the dog out of competition until you fix your problems. You are right when you think you will be dinged heavily. Why bother spending time and money showing a dog that is not ready. What is to be gained? not only that but when you allow a dog to keep making mistakes they believe they are doing right and it becomes ingrained.

Go back to the basics. Take her out on planted birds and use the time for retraining. Planted birds are the easiest to use for staunching. You especially want birds that are slow to flush so you can spend time on her point. By flushing the birds quickley she wins. When she points and starts to flag, use the whoa and go up to her and reposition her if necessary. Touch her, set her up. Pull her tail up and stroke it into place, push her with your hand slightly until she stiffens to your push. Forget about that bird until she is pointing staunchly. Step back for a minute, step back up and staunch her again. Keep this process up until she understands what a solid point is. When she staunches, then and only then, do you flush. I can go in and pick my dogs butt and backlegs off the grond when they are on point and it never phases them. I will, on purpose, leave my dog on point and see how long they will stay. You don't know the pride behind a seven minute point. That seems like an eternity to everybody but talk about bragging in the clubhouse ;-)

Too many folks are too interested in the bird or titles and not the dog. A wise dog training friend says you can hunt your dogs or train your dogs but not at the same time. I will change it a little and say you can train your dogs or trial your dogs but not at the same time. Take some time to teach your dog the solid fundamentals and trialing will be a snap for both of you. If your dog gets a senior at 30 months instead of 20 months, no one will care. They give no prizes for the youngest titled dog, but even if they did, the wise trainer would disregard that one and look for the best foundation. You have a very promising young lady. It would be a shame if she never reached her potential because you were in a hurry.

Terry Germany
JC&T Shooting Sports

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