Let a pup chase or no?

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Let a pup chase or no?

Postby Mountainhunter76 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:36 am

What's your opinion on letting a pup chase after the flush when training?
I've read that it increases the desire for the birds, and Perfect start, Perfect finish trains this way. (I have that DVD series).
Although, I heard from some that allowing the chase only makes it more difficult to steady a dog after the fact.
What's your process and why?
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby ryanr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:21 am

I don't care too much if a pup chases. I might try to call or whistle the dog back after a bit but that's about it. I don't do the whole check cord the dog into the bird kind of thing though either and I don't plant birds until the dog is trained to be steady to wing, shot and fall. If I'm putting birds out for a young, unsteady dog it's pigeons in launchers only. Now once the dog is trained to be steady, then I will give a correction as needed but before that if a young pup chases, it chases. Mine have always pulled themselves off a chase after the bird flies off. They might be 100-200 yards out at that point but that's fine.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby Willie T » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:01 pm

I think this one is going to be interesting. I have had the luxury of access to ample wild birds. That is what I train with. Personally I don’t want a pup that does not want them enough to chase. When they steady up enough to let me flush I start killing some of them for the puppy. In the meantime I will have been working on a trained retrieve where the puppy is steady till sent. Only after I am satisfied with both facets independently do I link them. So initially I let the pup chase and don’t worry about steady to wing, shot, and fall before I judge the dog is ready and it can be implemented without confusion or hampering the dogs momentum and style.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby JONOV » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:06 pm

I think that that this is one of those things where there's more than one "right" way.

Meaning there are a lot of equally qualified people that have opposite or near opposite opinions on it.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:48 pm

I let my pups chase when the bird flies through their first hunting season. I steady them to wing and shot after their first season and before the second. I want to build the maximum desire, focus and skills to find birds and keep the dog's style intact while doing it. This relative to upland birds. I will steady a pup for retrieving duties on waterfowl and doves prior to its first season if the pup is old and bold enough to absorb the training well and still be keen for the retrieve.

It may make steadying the dog somewhat harder but I think the tradeoff is worth it. I believe training the Whoa command completely in many situations away from birds is the single best thing you can do for steadying a young dog. Then when you go to apply the already well trained command around birds the dog is not going to have any confusion and will understand that birds are just another situation where Whoa still means Whoa.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby ryanr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:04 pm

That's an important point AG, that whoa (and steadiness) begins well away from birds and the field. For newbies, I think that's an easily misunderstood part of the equation. I know it was for me. I look at this issue a lot like you and Willie T.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:28 pm

I have used pigeons in launchers, working a very young pup in silence to bring out their natural pointing instinct. I let the pup drag a check cord but I do not hold on to it. Once the pup is pointing and allowing me to get in front before I launch the pigeon, and I have properly introduced gunfire elsewhere, I start launching and shooting the pigeon and giving the pup a reward of a bird to retrieve. Then I discontinue that work and hunt the pup on wild birds as much as possible through its first season. They easily learn they cannot catch the flying wild birds and having never caught a training bird, they are not trying to catch birds. They know from our pigeon/launcher work the only way they get a retrieve is to point and hold their point.

I think allowing a pup to crowd training birds or worse catch them is what makes steadiness training difficult. Far more so than letting the pup chase strong flying birds after they flush as they quickly learn that if futile. I do not hunt my pups on released birds as some are going to be poor performers and the pup will catch them, and many others are going to be weak and low flying birds encouraging a bold puppy to chase them to ground and catch them there. Those experiences make steadying a pup more difficult.

Chasing wild birds after the pup has pointed them and held their point while I flush, has not been a problem for me and my pups when we take up our steadiness training. The combination of cover and speed of the wild birds make pups break off the chase quickly.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby orhunter » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:35 pm

Hunting: I wouldn’t worry about it unless it affects the point. A pup that is steady to flush is good enough. If a person wants to whoa a pup, do it after the flush, not before. Don’t want to mess with the point. Will need to back up a whoa with the e-collar. Teach a pup to whoa on the tone as your voice may not be heard if the distance is great and the pup is distracted. Set the stimulation level on the e-collar just high enough so the pup feels it. If pup ignores voice and tone, hold down the stimulation button till pup stops, immediate release. Command, come.

I wouldn’t touch the e-collar when training with a launcher. All training birds should be shot so pup has no opportunity to chase and make chase a habit.

Attach lead to pups collar. Hand launch some homers and restrain the pup so it gets used to seeing birds fly off.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:51 pm

I let a pup handle a LOT of birds. From 8 weeks their chasing clippies, catching and carrying them. They're pointing launcher birds and when I pop the launcher, I stop them on a CC. I may let them occasionally chase, but not much. I don't think chasing a bird ever taught a dog anything, unless it was a dog with no desire that stops the chase because he didn't want to really catch it anyhow. It certainly can make them harder to steady later. If they're handling a lot of birds (retrieving them to you), what does chasing do? To me it's one of those old wives tales that has little merit.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby Willie T » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:59 pm

Interesting discussion on how we go about things. I get the dog used to seeing birds fly off while teaching the trained retrieve. When the dog is nice and steady on bumpers and dead birds, I begin shooting some live flyers for it. When everything is in order, I simply link that to the back side of the point. It is simple and painless. Usually takes on or two times and we are there with no confusion.
From the git go I don’t whoa or say anything to my dogs on point. My goal is for the dog to learn to work the birds. If the dog has the right stuff and is allowed to freewheel, and the handler goes about things wisely and with patience, they will develop far more savvy. We all like to see the low intense point. In heavy cover is where you most often see it.
521C00FF-83DB-4A94-AAB4-8CD56B2C1CA3.jpeg

Cricket is crouched in the front with one foot off the ground. He was quivering from head to tail. His head is low and his eyes were about to bug out of his head when I found him. The bird was approachable and is pointed just in front of him in the brush.
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0F717C14-B553-4A19-9724-11430BBB4AAD.jpeg
0F717C14-B553-4A19-9724-11430BBB4AAD.jpeg (206.38 KiB) Viewed 138 times

In this pic the birds are 70 plus yards. It is arid country. The cover is diffuse and low. The birds can see the dog coming and are unapproachable. Cricket knows it. He has repositioned 4 times as the birds fled up the hill to the sanctuary of the brush and he is standing them here. The stance is tall and the nose is high to read the wind at distance.
Whoa on point takes some of that savvy away from the dog. They may still be really nice bird dogs but in my experience, they don’t learn to handle birds to the same level.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby Willie T » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:04 pm

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I let a pup handle a LOT of birds. From 8 weeks their chasing clippies, catching and carrying them. They're pointing launcher birds and when I pop the launcher, I stop them on a CC. I may let them occasionally chase, but not much. I don't think chasing a bird ever taught a dog anything, unless it was a dog with no desire that stops the chase because he didn't want to really catch it anyhow. It certainly can make them harder to steady later. If they're handling a lot of birds (retrieving them to you), what does chasing do? To me it's one of those old wives tales that has little merit.


With a steady diet of wild birds it can teach the puppy they can not catch the bird. Once the dog flushes the the bird, the jig is up. From there it learns that by hunting together and pointing it for you to shoot, it can catch them. I do understand that working with launchers and pen raised birds, and the possibility of the dog catching them is a genie that is hard to put back in the bottle. A steady diet of wild birds, not so much.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby Mountainhunter76 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:42 pm

Some different perspectives shared here and I appreciate them all. As a first time owner/trainer this has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
I have met an acquaintance who is involved in NAVHDA and is local to me. We have been conversing quite a bit an he's offered up many methods for various skills for my pup. It is his theory that a pup that never is allowed to chase will not further develop that desire/trait and will not have to be "broke" of it. Instead, all steadiness is completely worked through, in complete controlled environment, before the pup is worked on birds in the field. What I mean to say is, the pup is worked on a training table until it is steady and respects the whoa command on live birds. Once that is achieved, field training commences. At least, this is what I have come to understand from our conversations.
I'm just not sure where I stand on this having never done it before. On one hand I can understand not having to correct a habit if the pup has never been allowed to do it before. On the other, if I go with this method I'm not sure if taking my pup out to hunt and get this first year of experience (a lot of mistakes) will simply undermine all this steadiness prep work and I will have to steady her up afterwards anyhow.
I don't want miss time on birds or bird exposure with her before this hunting season.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:04 pm

For clarity.

I let my pups learn to point and hold a point with me being completely silent. Whoa never enters into that.

I first use pigeons in launchers because I have complete control, I know where the bird is which allows me to accurately gauge when the pup hits the scent cone. If it points great, I stand and observe, if it creeps I launch the bird immediately and it flies away. Once the pup holds its point and allows me to get ahead to flush we move to me shooting the bird and giving the pup a retrieve.

Then we stop that work and hunt wild birds for the first season. I remain silent while my pups work and point birds. They are free to relocate as needed and they make the decision. When they make good decisions they will get a retrieve. When they make a mistake they do not.

Meanwhile I train the Whoa command in every situation but birds. I overlay a whistle que on the hand signal and voice command for Whoa. When my dog will do this and after the first hunting season, I know we are ready to work on steady to wing and shot. There is no bird involved here. I simply blew the whistle que to Whoa and the dog slams on the brakes. It demonstrates a dog which totally understands the command which then means it will be very unlikely to have any confusion when it is asked to do the same around a flying bird.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DK1rw-WjNo

Now when I start steadiness training I do not use a pointed bird as that is more pressure than is productive at that stage. Rather I have my wife downwind of the dog with a bag of homing pigeons. I Whoa the dog, she walks in plain sight of the dog but downwind so no scent is involved and releases a pigeon. The distance initially is 30-40 yards so as to not put too much pressure on the dog. If he moves I give low level stimulation and say Whoa. The stimulation ends the moment the dog stops moving. Then we release birds closer, then closer. When the dog is standing flown birds all around him and not moving we are ready to start working pointed birds and requiring the dog to stand in place when the pointed birds are flushed and fly away. When that is in place we move to shooting the bird. The entire process hinges on a very well trained and understood Whoa command. But again Whoa is after the bird is flying, not before. It has nothing to do with the dog pointing.

I shot this video on Aug 29th. The dog had found and pointed a covey of wild bobwhite quail and held point for quite awhile as I slowly used my Garmin 550 Plus to locate the dog and slowly move in on his point. As I am standing filming, the dog knows the covey has run out from his initial point and he appropriately decides to relocate. Note the caution he uses and note the intense style as his head and tail come up when he nails them again. And finally note I stay completely quiet. Only when I flushed a moment later and he bounced out a jump did I issue a Whoa command and he stopped in his tracks once again. It had been awhile since we had worked on that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbeSYhGbWA

This is a dog which was allowed to chase birds once I flushed them off of his staunch points and the birds were flying away during his first hunting season. He learned as a baby he could not catch a flying bird and so his chases were never more than few jumps while I remained silent. The dog hunted wild birds in 6 states before he was a year old so he saw alot of action. I then steadied the dog and he passed his NAVHDA UT at 17 months Prize 1. He found and pointed 7 chukars in the upland portion of the test, the gunners missed 5 of them which put alot of pressue on my young dog, and yet his steadiness to wing and shot was sufficient to earn a Prize 1. It was not difficult.

And you see now how he works a running covey of wild birds not quite 2 weeks ago. Our Steadiness training did not diminish the dog's style or intensity and he knows how to handle running birds really well.

I prefer to let my young dogs learn how to hunt, point, relocate and hold wild birds in their first season with just about zero interference from me.

Steadiness is pure obedience and we do that later.

Yes opinions vary on when to steady a dog. And how. I learned the approach I am describing here from Jon Hann in person and in the same DVDs you are using. Your pup and your call but that is how I go about it.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:06 pm

Willie T wrote:
GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I let a pup handle a LOT of birds. From 8 weeks their chasing clippies, catching and carrying them. They're pointing launcher birds and when I pop the launcher, I stop them on a CC. I may let them occasionally chase, but not much. I don't think chasing a bird ever taught a dog anything, unless it was a dog with no desire that stops the chase because he didn't want to really catch it anyhow. It certainly can make them harder to steady later. If they're handling a lot of birds (retrieving them to you), what does chasing do? To me it's one of those old wives tales that has little merit.


With a steady diet of wild birds it can teach the puppy they can not catch the bird. Once the dog flushes the the bird, the jig is up. From there it learns that by hunting together and pointing it for you to shoot, it can catch them. I do understand that working with launchers and pen raised birds, and the possibility of the dog catching them is a genie that is hard to put back in the bottle. A steady diet of wild birds, not so much.


Someday Willie, you'll run in to a dog that would far rather chase than point. They are or can be horrible to break. I never create a problem I'll have to later correct. In my view, wild bird or not, I have never seen any reason to let a dog develop a bad habit and chase. But, whatever works.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Let a pup chase or no?

Postby Drahthaar1108 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:16 pm

I am with AG, train very close to the same way. Forrest
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