Bird dog questions

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Bird dog questions

This is a discussion on Bird dog questions within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I've been thinking about training my dog for bird hunting. Very non-competitive; just for fun and to give Cinnamon (my dog) a job. I have ...

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Old 01-06-2018, 07:12 PM
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Bird dog questions

I've been thinking about training my dog for bird hunting. Very non-competitive; just for fun and to give Cinnamon (my dog) a job.

I have two questions. First is, can you begin training a dog in this sport when she's already three, or will that not work/not work so well because she wasn't started in it as a pup?

And does a Great Pyrenees/Black Lab/Akbash/German Shepherd/Maremma cross have a chance of being a decent bird dog?

TIA
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:03 PM
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To my knowledge, there isn't anyone on this forum (at least not a frequent poster) that actively hunts with a dog or trains their dog for hunt tests.

I'm not crazy knowledgeable about gundog training, but I do lurk on a number of gundog forums. I took a 2 week gundog course as well. I also own a dog bred from extremely active hunting lines in both everyday work and competition, and have spent a fair amount of time around labs from field lines (ie, bred primarily for their working ability).

Honestly, whether or not she has any hope would have a lot to do with how much she likes to retrieve in play, and finds the behavior self-rewarding (ie, she's doing it for the fun of doing it, not because when she does it she gets another reward). It then also depend the conditions you're asking her to work in. Can she mark a retrieve falling and find it from memory? Is she driven to search areas for birds- or dummies- that she didn't see fall? My dog comes from two kennels that breed primarily for waterfowl hunting, so I know the most about that kind of work. Those dogs are expected to work in iced over ponds and freezing temperatures. Upland hunting is a very different game, where dogs are often working in long grass and may have to search more than a waterfowl dog.

Age isn't as much a factor as innate drive. How much does she like fetching? Is she equally willing to fetch multiple things or does she gravitate to a certain toy? How much "go" does she have?

You might try plugging in to some of the facebook groups about training gundogs. Do keep in mind a lot of trainers are still very old-school in their methods (ie, unfair and overly physical with the dogs). A lot of the texts they work from advise some very questionable methods. "Absolutely Positive Gundog Training" is a good read, though. If I'm remembering right it is mostly waterfowl?

I have tried gundog training with low drive dogs (during my 2 week course) and done some with high drive dogs (my own dog works in some early gundog drills and is learning to work with bumpers). There's a huge difference between working that kind of stuff with a dog who cannot wait to retrieve and wants to with every fiber of his being, and one who bumbles after something you threw and sometimes brings it back.
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonstream View Post
To my knowledge, there isn't anyone on this forum (at least not a frequent poster) that actively hunts with a dog or trains their dog for hunt tests.

I'm not crazy knowledgeable about gundog training, but I do lurk on a number of gundog forums. I took a 2 week gundog course as well. I also own a dog bred from extremely active hunting lines in both everyday work and competition, and have spent a fair amount of time around labs from field lines (ie, bred primarily for their working ability).

Honestly, whether or not she has any hope would have a lot to do with how much she likes to retrieve in play, and finds the behavior self-rewarding (ie, she's doing it for the fun of doing it, not because when she does it she gets another reward). It then also depend the conditions you're asking her to work in. Can she mark a retrieve falling and find it from memory? Is she driven to search areas for birds- or dummies- that she didn't see fall? My dog comes from two kennels that breed primarily for waterfowl hunting, so I know the most about that kind of work. Those dogs are expected to work in iced over ponds and freezing temperatures. Upland hunting is a very different game, where dogs are often working in long grass and may have to search more than a waterfowl dog.

Age isn't as much a factor as innate drive. How much does she like fetching? Is she equally willing to fetch multiple things or does she gravitate to a certain toy? How much "go" does she have?

You might try plugging in to some of the facebook groups about training gundogs. Do keep in mind a lot of trainers are still very old-school in their methods (ie, unfair and overly physical with the dogs). A lot of the texts they work from advise some very questionable methods. "Absolutely Positive Gundog Training" is a good read, though. If I'm remembering right it is mostly waterfowl?

I have tried gundog training with low drive dogs (during my 2 week course) and done some with high drive dogs (my own dog works in some early gundog drills and is learning to work with bumpers). There's a huge difference between working that kind of stuff with a dog who cannot wait to retrieve and wants to with every fiber of his being, and one who bumbles after something you threw and sometimes brings it back.
Thanks for the reply!

I think she has the personality to be a bird dog, but I've honestly never taught her to fetch. I'm going to work on that, but I guess I won't know anything until I do. And I'll check out "Absolutely Positive Gundog Training"!
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:01 PM
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Talking slight correction

.

Ummm. - I think U meant to write...
Absolutely Positively Gundog Training
https://www.amazon.com/Absolutely-Po...dp/1514221837/

I don't personally know Milnar - but i am very familiar with his high-quality dogs, & his highly-reputed kennel.
Robert Milner's DuckHill Kennels - Positive Gundog Training

If ever i can afford it [unlikely, but i can dream], I'd love to have a canoe Lab of his breeding.

=================================

there's also:
Positive Gun Dogs
https://www.amazon.com/Positive-Gun-...dp/1890948330/

FULL DISCLOSURE: of the 3 co-authors, I know 2:
Jim Barry, & Susan Smith. // Both are USA-apdt members, & Jim was researching ethics in training when i participated in several teleconferences & workshops with him.
Susan Smith owns Raising Canine & offers webinars and teleconferences - many of which i've attended.
They are both excellent trainers whom i'd trust to keep my next pup for me, if i was temporarily disabled - greater trust than that hath no trainer.

& there's
Retrieving for All Occasions
by Elsa Blomster & Lena Gunnarsson
https://www.amazon.com/Retrieving-Al...dp/9198161342/

Elsa is the one in the UTube clip i posted earlier, with the untrained nutcase 17-WO Labrador pup, showing B4 & after literally 1-hour total of training [3, 20-minute sessions] using pos-R.
She's extremely good at what she does.

- terry

.
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
.

Ummm. - I think U meant to write...
Absolutely Positively Gundog Training
https://www.amazon.com/Absolutely-Po...dp/1514221837/

I don't personally know Milnar - but i am very familiar with his high-quality dogs, & his highly-reputed kennel.
Robert Milner's DuckHill Kennels - Positive Gundog Training

If ever i can afford it [unlikely, but i can dream], I'd love to have a canoe Lab of his breeding.

=================================

there's also:
Positive Gun Dogs
https://www.amazon.com/Positive-Gun-...dp/1890948330/

FULL DISCLOSURE: of the 3 co-authors, I know 2:
Jim Barry, & Susan Smith. // Both are USA-apdt members, & Jim was researching ethics in training when i participated in several teleconferences & workshops with him.
Susan Smith owns Raising Canine & offers webinars and teleconferences - many of which i've attended.
They are both excellent trainers whom i'd trust to keep my next pup for me, if i was temporarily disabled - greater trust than that hath no trainer.

& there's
Retrieving for All Occasions
by Elsa Blomster & Lena Gunnarsson
https://www.amazon.com/Retrieving-Al...dp/9198161342/

Elsa is the one in the UTube clip i posted earlier, with the untrained nutcase 17-WO Labrador pup, showing B4 & after literally 1-hour total of training [3, 20-minute sessions] using pos-R.
She's extremely good at what she does.

- terry

.

Thanks for the help and the links, Terry! They're a big help!

Quote:
If ever i can afford it [unlikely, but i can dream], I'd love to have a canoe Lab of his breeding.
IKR? I'd kill for one of those!!
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:20 PM
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Lightbulb more from Milnar

.

Milnar has a bunch of backstory re Pos-R training on the page i linked -
it also includes video links to a Lab of his breeding, during training.

QUOTE from "positive gundog training" page,
____________________________________________


Five Important Principles for Positive Gundog Training

1. Early development of learning process -
Pup should learn early that s/he can 'buy' rewards (treats) by offering behaviors. S/he should sit to get every meal. You should teach other behaviors with treat rewards, such as: stay, crawl, jump onto platform, roll over, etc.
The more behaviors a puppy learns, the more skillful s/he'll be at learning, & the easier later training becomes.

2. Get steady early -
every unrestrained retrieve, trains Pup to break. As soon as Pup is retrieving eagerly, begin restraining them for a gradually-increasing period before releasing for the retrieve. Our milepost is a 30 ft retrieve, with pup restrained 30 seconds, & confident enough to hunt after release for 30 seconds for the dummy.
We typically have 16-WO puppies who are steady without restraint.

3. More dummies; less birds -
Establish the behaviors of retrieving & delivery to hand using dummies. After the behaviors are well established & habits are strong, use some birds. Used too early in pup's training, birds tend to create problems, such as running off to the bushes with the bird, mouth problems, & unsteadiness. Birds are a giant leap in distraction level.

4. More Blinds; Less marks -
The primary value of a marked (seen) retrieve should be as a reward for sitting quietly during & after the fall. Beyond that, marked (seen) retrieves have a negative value, re teaching pup to stop on the whistle, & take a cast. Every marked retrieve that Pup completes trains them a little more to find the prey without help from the handler.
The goal of hand signals is to train Pup to take directional casts from the handler away from where Pup wants to go, & toward where the handler wants Pup to go.

5. Whistle stops & hand signals -
Establish it early, as soon as Pup is steady for tossed dummies. First establish the behaviors of whistle stops & casting close to you. Then establish close with increasing distraction. Establishing whistle stops & casting behaviors close to you allows you to deliver rewards effectively. Establishing behavioral proficiency in the face of high distraction levels with the dog relatively close to you, will prepare the dog for the distraction level offered by distance.

Below are three video clips illustrating aspects of positive gundog training. The dog in the video is Buccleuch Temperance, one of our Legacy Labradors.

1. Buccleuch Temperance learns 'fetch from ground' while being reinforced (rewarded with a tossed tennis-ball) for delivery to hand.

Playing fetch from ground with Buccleuch Temperance


2. Buccleuch Temperance learns to sit calmly prior to retrieves.

Steadying with Buccleuch Temperance


3. Reinforcing whistle stops with Buccleuch Temperence

If you'd like to see an example of Positive Gundog Training, here's a video clip of one our Legacy Labradors. There's a pheasant retrieved to me near the end, at 2 minutes,16 seconds. The dog who's retrieving is Temperance, of the above video clips.

The clip was made when Temperance was 14-MO and proficient on blinds and hand signals. She had not been given a marked retrieve prior to this point. That retrieve on the video is Temperance's first ever marked retrieve, & her first ever retrieve of a bird. She performed flawlessly.

Here is the video clip:


_______________________________________________
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