So I took my 5 month old Brittany to my nearest NAVHDA training day this past Saturday. For background, my pup has never seen a pigeon or game bird before, other than a wing on a string. He points/chases tweety birds on walks. I am also brand new to upland hunting.
Things I liked:
Things I didn't like:
- -Everyone was very helpful and interested in my pup. Great to meet people who want to help train.
-I was able to see dogs in different stages of training which helps me to learn a lot.
-Several people recommended starting collar conditioning on my pup. Maybe this should be in the other category since he's so young??
- -Guys frying their dogs on the e-collar when they didn't respond to commands (whoa/recall) to the point of dogs yelping.
-Environment was more of a one guy leading training and everyone coming to him, in a teacher/student type relationship. This didn't leave much room for people wanting to try a different training method (I want to pursue Gibbons/West method).
-No use of a check cord on any of the dogs including dogs who weren't steady to shot.
-Trainer took my pup on the lead from me during the short period where they set birds for him, basically relegating me to watching.
-Trainer didn't give an opportunity for my pup to get interested in the pigeon, or develop bird dominance. My pup was about a foot or so away from the launchers when he launched the birds and the wings flapping/launcher activation definitely frightened him.
What does everyone think of the above? Does this sound typical? Not trying to bust anyone's balls on the negatives above, I just want to hear some opinions. I know I'm the new guy. Here's a video of Copper's first point: https://youtu.be/jO98atjI5I4
That is a nice pup, I wouldn't throw it out with the wash water! Something hard to see is the pup's willingness to hunt much wider. I'm sure that sling didn't help you one bit, hampered you from actually using the CC. The cc should be 20' to max 25' and you slide it in and out with your hands keeping the cc off the ground. With it off the ground, you can re-enforce command's right away. With it dragging, you can't enforce a command until the drag is out of it. By not letting the pup move out more, your encouraging it to hunt under your feet, that's where it always find the bird! I notice the bird was in a remote trap. For doing just the bird work, you don't need the cc but, if you don't have a cc, you better have remote traps and learn to use them. The cc is best used for whoa training. I like the original Delmar Smith on the whoa post, I don't care for the flank collar. Reason being I have done to many dog's the original way and it work's if you do your job!
On thing's you didn't like, they guy's you see frying their dog haven't a clue how to use one and leave everything in the dog that it has. They will take every thing out of the dog! but you'll find that in a lot of venues. What would bother me about that was not that they do it but that instructors said nothing about it! Pretty ugly!
Instructor's teach what they know. No one method is right and no one is wrong, Use them right and they all work! If I were instructing out there i could not help you with the Gibbons-West method, haven't a clue what they do! Another thing to keep in mind is that even if the instructor is teaching the method you want, you may not recognize part's of it. Problem being that having learned the method well, the instructor's add a few thing's that they've change to suit their need's. But the base should still be there. If you want to do the Gibbons-West method, the place to learn that is at a Gibbons-West seminar! Other wise you need to read their book over and over till it become's engraved in your brain. and even then you make some mistake's for no reason other than a misunderstanding of what they wrote. Do not worry about a mistake now and then, every body make's them. In a training session like that, there is no time to go over the different method handler's might want and there isn't an instructor I've ever heard of that could flip from one method to another and keep everything straight. Look at enough of them and you'll find a few things consistent in all of them. Timing is vital. You never to give and re-enforce the command without right on timing. Timing is vital and I've never seen any new handler that was even close in the beginning, all trainer's will admit to that. All trainer's will also tell you you really need to learn to read your dog, absolutely necessary no matter what method you use! I would expect that all good instructor's will encourage you to find one method you like and learn it very very well before you go off changing thing's on your own. A lot of good method's out there and they all work but, you must follow them!
I'd have trouble with no use of check cords. and using remote launcher's, they should too but they didn't use the launcher well enough for me. The bird should have been popped as soon as the pup smell's the first scent, learn to read your dog!!! They didn't do that but rather waited until you got it settled down to release the bird. The idea is , with them, to teach the pup what you want. my idea is to teach the pup how to get what it want's! Back up now and bring your pup in, on the far end of the cc, and soon as it hit's scent, you have to read that, pop the bird. What did the pup learn? It got it's first taste that it's movement cause's the bird to leave! Do that several more time's and the pup will hit point before you can pop the bird. The pup is learning how to get what it want's.
Trainer taking the lead is not a problem, if, he's going to demonstrate something for you. Then you need to pay very close attention to see what he's doing and he should explain it as he goes. A problem for most all trainer's is that they think some things are self evident. To them, Yes, to the student. nothing is self evident! I remember when I trained, every thing I did with a client's dog, I had my wife video for them. She had to learn what I wanted to get it right. I did not want the camera always on me, I wanted it on what I was doing and i talked through every step! i wrote a remote mic to be sure I could. What I didn't want was her telling the client what she though i was doing and why I did it. Then there are time's when I'm not handling the dog through something. at those time's the dog was in right next to me and settled down. then I wanted the camera right on me. No farther away than my waist to just over my head. People trying to learn from you, learn much better when the pay attention to you. That shot calls attention to the instructor all by himself. In a class room setting, such as it sound like you had. the instructor need's everyone attention on him. Guaranteed he doesn't get it so he'll have to go over some thing's several times. Instructor's only know how to do what they know how to do but most miss the point that with a new handler, nothing is self evident!
It's not really necessary for the instructor to get your dog pumped on a bird, but, rather to bring it out. Puppy's are born knowing more about birds they we'll ever know. Build on that. He let the pup get way to close before he popped it, your right. And you did the same thing. I suspect your though was to get the pup to a point where it could actually see the bird. What's wrong with that? Well your teaching the pup to use it's eye's not it's brain. It won't take long to get a pup pointing by not giving it the chance to see the bird that you think it needs. they keep looking for birds' dicky bird are great for pup's, Know why? they can't catch them and they start to hesitate before charging in. Then confusion get's them as they try to plot how to sneak up on them, they can't. But in that process, the pup is shown that by stopping, the bird is not gone right now, it's a learning process. I had a guy bring me a dog five or six years ago that was given to him by a shooting preserve that said the dog had to much prey drive, take's out all the birds. ZI can pretty much guarantee you that as a youngster, that pup was put on farm raised game birds and allow to catch a bunch. What does that teach the pup? That's right, it can catch the birds. Took that dog and my remote set up and in about 15 min had it pointing! No such thing as to much prey drive but those dogs are hard to work with. Not with pointing but with handling, that's where excessive pray drive shows itself. Go watch your video again notice the pup get's antsy long before you get to where you do actually stop it. Way back there was the place to do one of two things. Either pop the bird on the pup or if you want to use the cc to keep the bird from getting to the bird, stop the pup! It's got a nose full and then start's going to see what that is, stop the pup! Or pop the bird and let the pup learn it can't catch the bird like that.
One last thing and all good trainer's will tell you this: pay attention to what your training. Remember you took the pup in to see the bird, it learns it can get closer! Pay atteention to what your training!