Retriever Training

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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:27 am

Having only run AKC retriever trials, my perspective may be off 100% on this, so bear with me. Anytime you have to give an over in a FT, you're probably out. His initial line was horrible. He stood and didn't sit to the whistle. He scalloped in on an over. I don't make my dog sit either BUT I do make her FACE me on the whistle. That would improve the handling a lot. It's tough when a dog is standing, facing the wrong direction, to get him to reverse.

Simplify and intimidate. When Spud doesn't take an over IMMEDIATELY stop him, walk half the distance to him, and cast him again. If he scallops again, do the same thing. It's very intimidating to a dog to have you stop him, slowly walk toward him, then cast him. They die a thousand deaths. That should quickly curd it with no prerrure.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:34 am

GH, sounds like good advice.

Let me reveal the warts in my training (mine not the dog's) for further comment.

Since day one on this I have had an internal conversation as to whether to go into this training using my trained Whoa whistle que as trained for the purpose of steadiness around birds. Spud is performing exactly as I trained him to do. Stop immediately and do not move your feet again until I tell you to. He remains facing whatever direction he was going in when I gave him the Whoa command which is what he should do per his training for steadiness in upland bird hunting applications.

My hope was if he took casts from that position we could get there on our blind handling. Note that there is a pause on the second Whoa while I am waiting for him to make good eye contact before I cast him. When he is bored and annoyed at being controlled vs free to search cover for game (as he was doing when I toned him to run that blind), that can take a moment. I just wait him out and try not bore him as best I can. It has worked better in water than on land.

We are getting by in the fashion of the video, but it is not precise and it can break down into a bird dog search at times. He is not apt to quit looking but he can at times decide to use his nose and feet making fast loops and using the wind doing it in his preferred manner ... He drifted the initial send into the cross wind coming in from his right as he runs away (but not bad in my world which is nothing like FTs). If he had taken a clean over he would have nailed that dolken less than 10 yards downwind to my left as I film, which would have been a "success" relative to my goals. But he didn't ...

Your suggested handling makes sense to me. But let me give you more information.

He can become hesitant to move when I handle as you suggest, seeming to resort back to his Whoa training and becoming uncertain whether to move or stand still. I have made some attempts at using recall to get him to move back towards me when that happens and then stopping him again on the Whoa to get him squared up for the next cast. I encountered some freezing up on the subsequent Whoas and discontinued it for that reason. My fear of taking the zip out of my dog was in play on that but if I worked in a mowed hay field we might get through it. Not being sure of that is why I have not pressed it more. Add some heat and he can start not enjoying all this control in a hurry is part of my challenge.

It has made me wonder whether I should take as step backwards, get a different tone whistle and train sit on a whistle facing me and use it for this work.

How precise have you been able to get your DDs in this type of work? I do not want to set the bar too low or too high.

If I could pass Hunter/Senior level work in Hunt tests and have dog which I can get close/downwind of the fall in a marsh I would be thrilled and that was my goal at the outset.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:51 am

I think this is a fantastic example of how sometimes trial training is not conducive to a good hunting dog. For all practical purposes, Spud is probably a great hunting dog right now. Who cares about the line and how many whistles it takes to get to the blind. Enter the trial where lines and compliance to commands are everything.

I don't think there should be any confusion between whoa and stop unless whoa was taught so religiously it is a default response. When a dog is correctly collar conditioned, he is pushed right, left and back with the collar as Hillman shows in the video. When he freezes on Whoa and won't take an Over, he is simply disobeying a command. I'd command over. If he freezes, Nick him and repeat the command Over. Same as any retriever. Any command refusal can and should be corrected with a Nick.

Now, the happiness. Most German dog's HATE rote work and will slow down. If I wanted a great handling dog I'd made the great handling dog, not worry about the sulking and slow speed, and speed him up later by using birds on the blinds and even on the baseball, but NOT until he's complying with my commands, happy or not. Training a dog is give, take, and bargaining. You have to decide what is most important to you. If you want a handling rocket, get a retriever. If you want an all around versatile dog, you have it. Life is all about compromise.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:51 am

I think this is a fantastic example of how sometimes trial training is not conducive to a good hunting dog. For all practical purposes, Spud is probably a great hunting dog right now. Who cares about the line and how many whistles it takes to get to the blind. Enter the trial where lines and compliance to commands are everything.

I don't think there should be any confusion between whoa and stop unless whoa was taught so religiously it is a default response. When a dog is correctly collar conditioned, he is pushed right, left and back with the collar as Hillman shows in the video. When he freezes on Whoa and won't take an Over, he is simply disobeying a command. I'd command over. If he freezes, Nick him and repeat the command Over. Same as any retriever. Any command refusal can and should be corrected with a Nick.

Now, the happiness. Most German dog's HATE rote work and will slow down. If I wanted a great handling dog I'd made the great handling dog, not worry about the sulking and slow speed, and speed him up later by using birds on the blinds and even on the baseball, but NOT until he's complying with my commands, happy or not. Training a dog is give, take, and bargaining. You have to decide what is most important to you. If you want a handling rocket, get a retriever. If you want an all around versatile dog, you have it. Life is all about compromise.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:29 pm

Again sounds like good advice. Going to give it a go. Thank you.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:48 pm

Hunt test .jpg



So this is a test I went out on this past weekend. The test starts with you sitting on the bucket in mid-foreground with your dog at your side. The judges are in the chairs behind you. The first duck is launched left to right from a winger located at far left of image. It lands about 50 yards out across two water ditches. The next bird is launched right to left in the center of the image. It lands also across the second ditch with about 15 yards of land in between the two water ditches. The mark is about 60 yards out. Then the third bird is launched from right to left (see arrow in the far right of the image) and it falls across the ditch and is about 60 yards out. You can pick up the birds in any order.

When you’ve picked up the marks the dog is sent for a blind located on the far bank at 91 yards (see black asterisk). The judges said “keep the dog wet” - that means they want the dog to enter the water maybe 15 yards out and swim the water channel to the blind. If the dog hits shore on the left the dog goes out of sight and gets lost in the tall grasses in the peninsula and if the dog beaches on the right side the dog also goes out of sight and on down to another channel and gets lost. So, there’s no way to do this cleanly without swimming the 90 yards down the channel.

The test dog failed (the one that’s supposed to show all the handlers the mechanics of the test) and three of the next four dogs failed. Then there was some outstanding dog work. If the dogs beached the handlers were able to give them an “angled back” and get them back in the water. Mostly the pros did well on this and the amateurs not so much. Lots of hacking back and forth and whistle refusals, etc.

Gypsy (my PP) picked up the marks without a hitch (a lot of dogs had to be handled on at least one mark) but when I sent her for the blind she ran the bank on the right and refused to take an angled entry into the water - so… she got lost down the right side and went out of sight. She was gone for maybe a minute and the next thing she popped up in the field to the left of the blind at about 200 yards. Then she disappeared again and then popped up with the duck in her mouth! The gallery of folks watching thought it was a pretty remarkable stunt to get so far out of it and then come up with the bird! The judges weren’t impressed and we were DQ’d.

Overall, the “finished” level is above what my dog can do at this point. Maybe someday but not now. She needs a lot more angled water entry training and also discipline on taking whistle commands. I’ve hesitated to put much pressure on her for not stopping on the whistle because if I give her a steering command she’ll just stop instead of steer. And so I’m going to have to decide if I want to put her through the rigors of all this stuff. She knows the quickest way to the bird is definitely not by swimming 90 yards down a channel and doesn’t like ecollar pressure all that much.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:37 pm

Never give an angles back into the water unless the dog is very well trained. Always a hard over so there is no doubt in the dogs mind.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:10 pm

Sure did enjoy your post Bruce and excellent job on describing that test. As I read the part about the blind I was thinking it is highly unlikely I could get Spud to swim that channel vs running down the edge bank. Sounds like Gypsy did very well on a test that was perhaps made too difficult. My goals are lower.

My Wingers showed up and I put them into action this evening. I like em but of course they require an assistant. I bought Garmin electronics for one of them so that we can run two marks with my wife operating the manual one. I constructed camo screens and set the wingers behind them.

The night before we had done some water marks at a different location with the Wife using my Lucky Launcher and hand throwing the second marks. There is no predicting where her throws are going to go and the first one which I requested be thrown in a specific spot on in the cover out in the water ended up on the bank behind her. I think these Wingers are going to save our marriage :).

Our maiden use of the remote control winger with duck quack. It is set behind the screen on the left side of the pond and threw the dolken into the pond. Not much to see other that the send and return. Going to train with the group Monday and looking forward to it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQbMRvf ... e=youtu.be
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:33 pm

AG: I decided to not enter at that level the next day because there is no way I can train to that level without either lots of drills or more pressure and I'm trying to decide if it's worth it. I did go back to the "seasoned" level the next day and it seemed sort of elementary so I'm sort of stuck in my thinking. I think Spud should enter at the Seasoned level and you'll have a blast and get pointers on what your dog needs. The tests are really straight forward at that level.

About your video: can you mow the field? It seems like it would be really hard to train in such dense cover. The dog could then have longer marks and not be tempted to set up really big hunts. I would think too large of hunts encourages switching, etc. Would be interested in GH's take. He looked good the first and last few seconds though. 8)

GH - Hmmm. So, you get the dog into the water with an "over" and then give a "back" to keep him in the channel? Seems like some experienced guys were discussing "angled backs" into water as what my dog needed more of. Can you explain just a bit more? Thanks!
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:20 am

Yes, I will train in lower cover as there is no doubt that tall of cover encourages hunting vs nailing a mark. Wanted to try out the new stuff, it was hot and I could use the Ranger to set it up so I did.

I am going to push my dog as far as he can go and still work with the enthusiasm and effectiveness he has in that clip. I like to see a dog hunt and use their nose intelligently and I am sure not going to take that out of my dog in pursuit of a ribbon. Everything we do must have real value to recovering birds in the field or I will not unduly pressure my dog to do it is the standard I plan to adhere to.

Improving his longer distance marking skills and willingness to let me direct him to the areas he needs to hunt in are extremely valuable skills in the field and we will continue to work on that and run a few lower/mid level tests to see how our work stands up in that setting.

Sending a dog into heavy cover to recover a bird, the dog working hard in focused pursuit of that common goal and bringing it back was a success when I started with dogs and still is for me and my dogs.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sat Jun 29, 2019 7:34 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote:GH - Hmmm. So, you get the dog into the water with an "over" and then give a "back" to keep him in the channel? Seems like some experienced guys were discussing "angled backs" into water as what my dog needed more of. Can you explain just a bit more? Thanks!


Anyone giving a dog an angle back in to water was stupid or had a very well trained dog. Even at Open All Age levels, dogs refuse angle backs in to water. Unless a dog has been trained to seek water, an angle back gives him the opportunity to decide: do I take the water or scallop it? A hard over tells the dog: get your larcenous, furry butt into that water.

You also have to realize that for a well trained dog, a channel blind is the easiest water blind there is. Where else does he have to go? He seeks center and seeks water so has to go right sown the middle. It's an easy picture for him to learn. Running retrievers at competetive levels is a whole different ball game.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:00 am

Bruce, any idea how many of the dogs that succeeded in running that blind had trained at the test site previously?
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:12 am

I've always found that training on trial grounds can be a huge detriment, especially for blinds. Dog gets used to going to one spot and you have to fight him to get him to a different one. Train for the concept, not the spot. On that test the left bird likely ate the most dogs on marks. Most dogs would have selected left, right, center.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:27 am

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I've always found that training on trial grounds can be a huge detriment, especially for blinds. Dog gets used to going to one spot and you have to fight him to get him to a different one. Train for the concept, not the spot. On that test the left bird likely ate the most dogs on marks.


Interesting. I could easily see that if the setups were not varied. Your comment about the dog getting the sight picture of swimming up the channel was why I asked. My thought was a dog having succeeded in doing that would increase its willingness to do it again.

In NAVHDA Duck Search it is far easier to condition a dog to search a specific training water, but the proof of the dog is being able to walk up to any water and get a good search out of it. The one and done nature of NAVHDA testing results in a lot of dogs testing at sites they have trained on extensively.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:34 am

When a dog sees a body of "dirty" water, there no picture. The dog just searches. A retriever test many times works on pictures or concepts and VERY precise casts. Very different.
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