[RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

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Ditch__Parrot
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[RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by Ditch__Parrot » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:23 pm

Why can't I be so lucky. Don't know if that is a great way to start but it's where I'm starting. Thinking about this buddy of mine that I've hunted with once or twice a year every year since the stone age. Well maybe more like 20 years or so now. Anyway every time I go hunting with this guy the last few years I get something stuck in my craw if you know what I mean. Bottom line is he always has great dogs. Great dogs that in my opinion are great in spite of him rather than because of him. Don't get me wrong I like the guy and always enjoy hunting with him. He just takes a little different perspective on things than I do, specifically dogs.

I guess I look at things as before I started doing obedience training back a little over 20 years or so ago I didn't know much about training dogs even though I'd always had dogs. When I got my first bird dog I looked at it the same and said hey I might know a little something about training a dog but I don't know jack about training a bird dog. So I did a little research found that there are multiple ways to skin a cat. I picked a pro that their way made sense to me and I could buy into and he got Sadie and me started. Then I come get on the Internet looking to interact with some other dog people figuring even though I'm not much of a people person and there are reasons why I prefer dogs to people, I figure how bad can a bunch of dog lovers be and it might be kind of fun BS'ing with some other folks about our beloved dogs. Then I find their is a vast amount of knowledge about bird dog training available here and other places on the web. So after tossing back and forth a little devils advocate I try to be open minded and soak up what I can and go out to the back yard and let the dogs teach me some more so to speak. To shorten it up I'll just say with at least one of my dogs I've put a lot of thought into getting her, I try to be a good dog owner and I'm always striving to be a better dog trainer and handler.

Now this buddy of mine; He buys whatever dog just happens to fall into his lap with no research of any kind at all. He grew up with pointing dogs, his dad always had pointing dogs, his grandad etc. I'll just say he's pretty convinced that he already knows everything there is to know about training a bird dog and has no intention of learning anything new and really why should he when his dogs hunt great. His methods lean a little more toward old fashioned and outdated I'll say for the sake of being polite. Dogs seem to be treated more as a well taken care of tool that you pull out of the shed for bird season rather than a companion at his house. And he has got to be the worst dog handler in the field I've ever seen or heard of. Despite all this his dogs have always hunted like rock stars.

As our season is grinding to an end I'm looking at a list of things that I need to work on with the dogs in the off season. Don't take it the wrong way. My dogs do pretty well all things considered and I'm particularly happy with Daisy that Bruce (AHGSP) was kind enough to hook me up with. She has a nose like a bird vacuum and handles very easily. There is just some things that we need to work on and I suspect there always will be. I'm just that way and at least it gives us something to do together in the off season. I enjoy it and don't really mind. My buddy on the other hand will most likely pull his dog back out of the kennel next November like they never missed a beat. Unlikely it would seem but with the past as any indicator most likely true.

Looking at my buddy and his dogs contrasted with my dogs and myself I have to wonder. I can't quite believe he is doing his dogs any favors. I won't buy it that his dogs have the hunt bred into them more so than mine or at least Daisy. So I see only one other possibility. Maybe I'm doing more harm than good. Maybe my dogs would be better off if I did nothing this off season. Maybe I should quit over thinking the dogs I buy and the training we do. That won't happen but just maybe I'm doing it all wrong. :mrgreen:
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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by birddogger » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:15 pm

This is very interesting. I certainly don't believe in putting the dogs up until the next hunting season, but I do believe a person can over think dogs and training [not saying that is what you do]. Maybe this guy's dogs have many more bird contacts than yours do, I don't know.

BTW, some of the older training methods can be very effective.

Charlie
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scmelik
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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by scmelik » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:19 pm

*I am going to preface this post with the fact that I do not know you or your buddy nor do I know either training style, so these observations may or may not pretain to either of you*

In the 6 or 7 years that I have been involved with dogs in a serious manner there is one thing that I have really began to notice with trainers, and that is that they have a tendency to try and micro manage. I have really noticed this because of watching older trainers, trainers that began training dogs before the advent ecollars, written programs, dvd's etc. It hit me when sitting at a AKC retriever hunt test (where my "expertise" lies), I was watching an older gentleman run a dog that was just flat out amazing as opposed to the gentleman, who is a fantastic trainer himself and had a great dog, that ran right after him. The older gentleman was very slow and methodical in his approach when compared to the younger guy and he let the dog do its natural thing a bit more when compared to the younger guy. After the gentleman had ran I walked up to his trailer and began chatting with him telling him how impressed I was with his run, and his dogs style. As we were talking our conversation steered towards training methods and he told me that while todays methods are great and it produces a great dog trainers are getting to the point where they are trying to micro-manage the dogs a little to much causing the dog to be a bit on the edge almost to the point of being nervous. Where as the old style of training, the equipment and methods did not allow from training of this nature so the dogs where able to use their god given talent a little bit more. Our conversation ended as he had another dog to go and run so I went and sat back down thinking about what he said and how it pertained to my training methods and styles. What I realized is that I (as well as many trainers) tried to micromanage the dog, predicting their reactions to a stimulus before the stimulus ever happened and many times I predicted slightly incorrect resulting in a dog that didn't have the confidence in itself that it should have.

Now I don't believe in putting a dog up at the end of a season and not working them but sometimes leaving the dog alone to do its natural thing is a good thing. Just my observation.
Scott

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AzDoggin
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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by AzDoggin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:02 pm

Well of course you know you haven't "been doing it all wrong" Ditch_Parrot.

Maybe it's me, but I think comparing your dog to others is a little bit of a tail-chasing activity. I suspect that the gap that you perceive between the dogs is not nearly as large as you make it out to be - heck maybe your friend wishes his dogs worked more like yours. Any achiever is never satisified with his/her achievement - always wanting to tinker and improve upon things. My dad is a gifted carpenter and has given me some beautiful hand-made furniture over the years, but the first thing he'll do when he gives it to me is turn the piece over and show me some insignificant imperfection that only he can see. That's the thing about him - the piece is never really finished - he just decides to stop working on it and give it up or sell it at some point.

I liked what smelik had to say about his interaction with the older trainer, and "micromanaging." I'm determined with my next pup (coming this summer), I'm going to keep my yap shut more and let the dog figure things out in the field. I'm sure both of his will have a much better time - and isn't that why we do this? To get enjoyment out of being out in nature watching the miracle of a well-bred dog work his or her magic? Ben O. Williams does a very nice job writing about this in his book (The Instinctive Training Method).

So anyway, here's what I'm saying: screw the comparison game. Train your dogs, hunt your dogs, compete with your dogs, spend time with your dogs in the way that makes sense and feels best to you. YOU set the standard your dogs need to meet. If you want to make adjustments, make 'em. If you don't, thats great too.
Last edited by AzDoggin on Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by Steve007 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:24 pm

Your dogs are liable to have long and useful lives, as a result of care, conditioning and innate structure. His are liable to be through and gone at a much earlier age. It probably won't bother him; it would bother me a lot. And I suspect it would bother you as well.

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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by JKP » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:01 pm

I always feel if a pup is well bred and brings a lot to the game, then I have to "round" the edges where its needed. Let the pup go...lots of exposure....and then take action where I need to and in the proportion that's right for THAT dog...but WTH do I know.

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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by doco » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:46 am

Me thinks you're doing it all right. Your dogs are a part of your life, not just a tool as you describe his. His dogs are hungry to hunt and probably hunt more for themselves and therefore, he looks like a bad handler, not because he is, but because his dogs are not trying to please him. I'm sure your dog handles kindly for you and wants to please you. That should be more than enough to feed your ego and be more than pleased with your dogs performance.

I wish I had the time and grounds to train everyday. I do train weekly and it only deepens the bond that I have with my two GSP's. I enjoy the time that I spend in the house with them almost, almost, not really but close to the time we spend training, roading and trialing. When I first started with these two, my buddy said to only come down once a week at first. Now mind you, I live 40 miles away. I drive down the first time, he places 3 traps out, the dog establishes point by scent on the second trap, and then stands the third and he says "OK, I'll see ya next week". What a let down, 1 1/2 hours of driving for 5 minutes of work. I went back in a week, repeat, repeat, repeat. Finally and now 3 years later, I'm down there 2 -3 times per week. It has gotten to the point that it ain't about the dogs anymore, it is about the time that I get to spend with them doing what is pleasing for me and functional for the dog.

My buddy trains puppies and derby dogs so there are times my dogs don't get any birdwork, by choice. I always give them 5 - 6 miles of roading and some backing drills. They pull on those harnesses like they belong in the Iditarod. Right out the box, they run to the Ranger and stick their necks out beggin for the harness, then stand there to be hooked up. That is what makes my boat float, their enthusiam. I purposely put them in situations that will make them think. It may be a quail staked out in the middle of the road around a corner that they about step on before they see it. It might be having them stand a bird while young dogs take out the bird. So every time they are on the ground, they are learning or reinforcing something.

Now as for your hunting partner, you supposed to enjoy each other's company. So either accept it or move on. I was hunting over someone's dog this fall with a group of 9, and several other dogs, and a rooster went up and never cleared 6' right over the dogs head straight away. I chose not to shoot , but the owner who was off to my right by 9', shot, directly over his dogs head. He takes pride in shooting as quickly as possible. My buddy who was also right there with us , a less experienced hunter, asked why I didn't shoot? I shouted back to him that it was not my dog's head to shoot over. I chose not to hunt with him and his dogs again. Simply for the reason that I don't feel that he is safe or concerned about his surroundings while hunting. He treats his dogs probably better than mine, but with birds in the air and a 28Ga. he's more interested in impressing everyone with not only his dog work, but in shooting the bird first. Enuf said.

I guess what I am getting at, is do it for you as well as your dog and enjoy every minute of it, even the frustrations.

Bill
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Re: [RANT] I've been doing it all wrong

Post by Ditch__Parrot » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:44 am

Some good points made here that I didn't expect. I wrote that rather tongue in cheek and hope that didn't get lost in my writing. Thought maybe someone might find some entertainment value in my annual frustration. :lol: .

We are good friends and have been ribbing each other for 30 years so I'm probably a little reluctant to give him credit where it's due. In the past I have written it off as pure dumb luck. Surely we've all had a friend at one time or another that had a knack at rolling in cow dung and coming out smelling like roses. That's sort of the way I always perceived my buddy and his dogs. This year though I'm giving him a little credit. He has always had great dogs so he must not be doing it all wrong like would be easy for me to think. But in grudgingly admitting this I have to at least take a 2nd look at my dogs and my views on dog training and handling in general. Maybe I'm the one doing it wrong. Well no AzHusker is right I don't or can't actually believe that. Not that I think I'm doing it all right either. No in fact we have plenty of holes and some of you better trainers could find them pretty quick and I don't have much of an ego to get in the way of admitting that. I could sit and nitpick his dogs like I do mine but in the end I'd still have to admit that despite the fact I completely disagree with his training methods and the way he handles his dogs in the field I still have always thought he has had great dogs. Maybe that's getting back to there is more than one way to skin a cat and our own way isn't always the only way. Or maybe it just goes to show that we shouldn't underestimate a dogs capabilities to adapt, overcome and please their owner. Or maybe it is still just pure dumb luck :P . In the end I'll just keep trudging along with my dogs because it's what I enjoy and try to look a little less critically at the ways of my buddy and just enjoy hunting behind his fine dogs once or twice a year.
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