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Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby ChiefO » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:43 pm

I’ll try to keep this as close to cliff notes as possible but here goes. I decide last fall to finally get a bird dog. Once upon a time my dad hunted behind my grandfathers dogs that were top notch and I heard many stories from them and locals about how good my grandfathers dogs were and the hunts they had. It makes me really wish I could have those days back when the wild quail population in Alabama was strong and hunter access was only a door knock away. Dad and I have been on several preserve hunts and become friends with a preserve owner that lets us hunt behind his dogs and is now letting me train my 8 month old GSP. She’s been a bit of a test for me as a newbie to training. I enlisted the help of a local trainer who is a great guy and has been a great help. He’s given her some groundwork in retrieving, collar conditioning, and introduction to gunfire. He sent her back home with me to build on those skills until he was able to get her on birds to hunt. It’s been a major learning curve for both of us and I find myself having a constant mental battle to realize she’s a kid in mentality and needs my patience when she soft mouths a dummy to hand and wants to prance around like a queen in circles around me...lol. We’ve started woah training this week. I’ve noticed that while she’s extremely hard headed, she responds remarkably well to praise. Truth is she’s probably teaching me as much as I’m trying to teach her regarding future dog work.

Today while talking to the trainer who has been helping me, he offered me a 10 year old dead broke GSP that has been hunted professionally for 9.5 years of his life. His only negative is that he can’t keep the high speed pace of a commercial plantation that hunts 5 days a week. He’s rock solid on point and retrieves to hand well, he just can’t go for more than an a couple hours before he starts heading to the truck and calling it a day. Funny thing is as he’s headed back to the truck he refuses to not keep pointing birds. To combat the issue the handler started carrying the pack in a large semi circle so that even when he starts angling toward the truck, he’s still picking up birds as they make their way. My friend is offering to give me the dog for free to serve as a good baseline for both me and the dog I’m training as he still has a few more good years left in him but in exchange I’d be tasked with taking care of him in retirement.

A second dog has always been in the plan but this is a little sooner than the plan. For you that have the wisdom that I don’t, what do you make of this opportunity? I feel like it could be a much added bonus for both me and my pup in training.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby cjhills » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:11 pm

If you want a dog to hunt with as you train your dog it will be alright. Don't expect your dog to learn from the other dog, at least not until he is well along in his training. He might learn as many bad things as good. Another year or two is about all you can expect out of the dog. Then you will have a old dog to deal with......Cj
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby shags » Tue Aug 28, 2018 5:30 am

Twice we've taken in old bird dogs. One had been kenneled all winter with little food or water after her owner died, and the other was from a kill shelter where her owner left her when he was tired of having her. One dog was ~12 and loaded with breast cancer when we took her, we had her for 18 months. The other we had for 6 years.

I loved those two old gals. We don't hunt, but trial, and gave the dogs some time in the field when we trained our trial dogs. As was mentioned above, my young dogs didn't learn from the old ones, but it was so much fun working with them, figuring out how they got where they were pertaining to their training, and we also used them as training aids for the young dogs. They made great backing dummies or pressure dogs as the case may be haha.

Take a look at some of the recent videos posted on here by the member from Skydance Kennels. He's been working his pup with his 10 year old veteran and has filmed them.

Both my old dogs were kennel dog, and fit right into the house. Housebreaking took a day or two. They never tore anything up. They added a lot to our lives, and we were happy to give them a soft place to land in their last years. I don't regret a thing, except that they weren't with is longer.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby averageguy » Tue Aug 28, 2018 7:12 am

There is way too much training to impart to my puppies for most of it to come from running with older trained dogs. So I use a daily mix of early development activities, exposure to wild game in game country, hunting in open seasons and formal training methods at the right age/development intervals to bring my puppies along. Working with just my puppy and I most of the time. There needs to be intervals of working with and socializing with other dogs in the mix as well and this is one of several areas where the older dog may prove beneficial.

I have also seen some excellent benefits while hunting a young puppy with a mannerly well trained older dog. Older dogs which were so staunch and sure on points they allowed a 7 month old puppy to point beside them in the scent cone of the wild birds the old dog found. The staunchness of the older dog was an excellent influence on the puppy in those instances. And the old experienced veteran dog keeps finding enough birds to keep the puppies enthusiasm up and present more opportunities for the puppy to find and work singles resulting from the old dog's covey finds.

One thing to be very careful of is to not allow the older dog to bully a puppy out of a retrieve when the puppy arrives at the downed bird first. Too many puppies have been turned off from dead bird retrieving by an older dog constantly beating them out, or worse snatching a bird out of their mouth. Do not hunt your puppy with an older dog who cannot be handled away from a downed bird that is rightfully the puppy's opportunity. You should be able to discern this 10 year old dog's behavior in that area and others before making the decision.

Another issue to explore is what does the current owner predict as to how the old dog will react to a puppy? Has it been around any? Will it reasonably tolerate puppy antics and play or is it already too old and grouchy for that? Having to separate dogs in the house, motel rooms or worse while hunting is not what you want so I suggest exploring that enough to know how it will go before making a final decision. Perhaps you already have.

And you would be signing up for the more difficult phase of owning a dog although in the same breath I would say I treasure the golden years of my dogs equally to all the rest.

Another thought. Handling two dogs at the same time while hunting is challenging. Even more so when one is a puppy. The ideal is when there is another experienced hunter present to handle the second dog, or better yet they own the second dog such that it is very responsive to them. Something to think about or even give it a trial run perhaps at the Preserve to get a hands on feel for how that is going to go.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby ChiefO » Tue Aug 28, 2018 7:49 am

Thanks for the responses thus far. I in no way meant to imply that I believed a veteran dog would put my pups training plan on cruise control. My perception is that it could prove beneficial in allowing my pup to see some good behaviors and allow her to socialize and work with another dog in the field. There is also the risk that she could inherit some negative traits/behaviors as well so I would need to be on my toes to keep aware of those influences.

The veteran dog in question has been kenneled and used to train other dogs for the past 6 years and works in groups of 2-5 dogs when being hunted. He averages 3-5 hunts a week during the season. From what I've gathered he's a solid dog, but his retirement is coming in a few years and the kennel is making room for the new/younger blood to take his place. I welcome your input so keep the replies coming.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby averageguy » Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:27 am

Sounds positive. Should be pretty easy to take the two dogs for a short hunt at the preserve to gets some eyes and hands on view on the dog. Would be great information relative to your decision is my thought.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby birddogger2 » Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:08 pm

In your situation, I would jump all over this. You have a dog that you can hunt...today...right now. That means you can take your sweet time with your puppy. Soooo, there is no pressure on YOU to get the training right the first time and there is no pressure on the dog to grow up too quickly.

With a solid dog... he will teach YOU what a good dog should do in many different circumstances and just how it should be done as well. You would be way ahead of the curve if you went out with that old dog and just watched and learned what he has to teach you. The old dog KNOWS how to hunt, how to find birds and what to do when he does find them. Watch and learn.

Lastly, when your youngster is coming along and it needs some etiquette training, like backing, like waiting to be released for a retrieve, etc. the old man might just be the best assistant you could ask for.

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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby Sharon » Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:27 pm

Iffy for me. You might have 2-3 years to enjoy with the older dog and it would be a great opportunity for the older dog. However, it has been my experience that once a dog hits 12-14 ( if) big vet expenses occur. What are its hips and knees like?
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby ChiefO » Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:45 pm

No issues that the owner is aware of regarding hips and knees. He's just starting to slow down compared to the rest of the group of 4-5 dogs that are being hunted at least 4 days a week. I've had that exact discussion with the wife. While he would have 2-3 good years left of light to moderate hunting, we would be taking on the responsibility of caring for him in retirement and unfortunately one day burying him. I'm good with that as I believe all dogs deserve the dignity in retirement for the years they've served in the field. The wife on the other hand would have to brace herself going in that there is an accelerated sunset for this dog vs her 8 month old.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby Featherfinder » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:31 am

CheifO, this is a question only you and your family can answer best, I believe. There are pros and cons, for sure.
All too often, the added cost of an aging dog can be sobering (meds/protocols). This aspect of a mature dog can become even less palatable if you have work/travel plans, that dictate special care for this dog. If the budget will support it, you have one less deterrent but to completely disregard this might be a mistake.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby isonychia » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:55 pm

I really don't like running my new pup with the older dog. Neither of them do well. It will take some time to establish that team. I wouldn't see that as a training asset, but you can maybe hunt him a little before he is too old and give him a good home.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby ChiefO » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:12 pm

Well...I pulled the trigger and brought the older dog home. Before I’d agree to take him I told the owner I wanted to see him hunt/work and check his temperament with my pup. We met yesterday morning at a quail preserve and put some birds out to work the dogs on. Now understand that my GSP is only 9 months old and has had limited exposure to birds so to say she needs polishing is an understatement. We dropped the old dog “Ranger” out and he methodically made his way into the field and begin working. I let my pup go and she instantly started running with ranger as if she though she was on a race to get somewhere or do something but clueless what it was. Ranger was obviously working the field trying to find birds while my pup was jumping on him and around him trying to play. He never paid her one second of attention and kept about his task methodically working the field. What happened next made me smile. Ranger was working a cut lane down the field and locked down hard on birds. My pup was running behind him and as soon as she saw him locked up, she froze in a perfect point honoring him. I was ecstatic as while I’d seen her flash point several times this was the first time she really locked down and pointed firm. I gave her the woah command we’ve worked on numerous times as I passed her. My trainer stepped on the short lead she’d been dragging behind her. I walked up to ranger and flushed the birds and barely hit one as the birds flushed. The trainer released my pup at the fall and she took off to make the retrieve while ranger moved on hunting the next bird. The rest of the morning went very similar and I couldn’t be happier with how things went. I’m hunting them together in the morning and again this Friday. I know full well that I’m taking on a liability in caring for this old veteran in retirement but I believe it’ll end up being good for everyone. My pup will get to see a semblance of what right is, my kids get a much more reserved dog that just wants to be loved on, I get to have a fully broke dog to teach me a thing or two, and lastly I get to give an old veteran a good retirement home. I think things will work out just fine.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby Sharon » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:39 pm

That's a great story! :) Good for you. Enjoy!
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby ChiefO » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:02 pm

Well I have no regrets thus far. The pros outweigh the cons. I’ve hunted them together 3 times now and the old adage rings true that nothing trains a dog like birds. The first hunt the only promise my pup showed was honoring the older dog. Second hunt she did a lot of the same but picked up some points consecutively with him. Third hunt she had 3 points on her own and they were staunch to flush and shot. I’m really happy with her progression and even more happy with this older dogs demeanor considering my pups inexperience and energy. I think these two will be a good team to help both her and me progress. The only negative I can find is that the two sometimes fight for the retrieve and seem to want to flaunt the possession of the bird over each other. While this may be a somewhat negative attribute I personally count it a positive that my pup is assertive toward retrieving the bird and I’ll correct that behavior adequately in our future hunts. This older dog has already taught me so much. You’d think he was headed for the retirement porch if you watched him in his kennel but when you put that tracking collar on him and turn him loose, you can visibly see the smile on his face and he hunts as hard as he can till you make him quit. I’m blessed to have them both.
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Re: Young Dog/Old Dog/New to Training

Postby averageguy » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:51 am

Nice to hear the old dog has found its last home and the young dog is learning its craft.

I suggest giving the old dog some time on the ground alone as well so it can truly enjoy its purpose in life. Same for the pup now it understands what is going on in the field and how fun it is to hunt for, point and retrieve birds. And as you noted, you will need to get control of the retrieve competition situation immediately least it develop into some life long bad habits for the pup.
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