Start em Young

averageguy
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Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:40 am

I did not want to Hijack cbf89's thread so I am starting a new one. I am amazed at how many GunDog folks post opinions that 5 month old puppies are too young for training. My take is it is rooted in a mind set that equates "training" with force and negative consequences.

There is another way and it yields a swift, life long pattern of joy in learning for a puppy/dog. The Gundog world lags in it severely in many camps.

I posted in that thread what I have accomplished with numerous GWP puppies in a row. I expect some equate early training as taking the fire out of a puppy. Nothing could be further from the truth provided it is done correctly. The short of it is using positive development techniques, positive OB training in house and yard settings, while also providing daily exposure to natural terrain and game, starting at a young age when the puppy is much easier to keep track of and more tractable to want to keep in contact with me while doing it. Play retrieve drills and properly used strong flying pigeons are used to develop the puppy's natural retrieve and pointing skills.

Working on OB while also building independence in the field is not an either or proposition, it is both.

Reading comments in that thread the always present theme of steady to WSF comes up. In my opinion, nothing in the world of Gundogs is more overblown than WSF. A great Gundog must have a love for birds and hunting for them, must learn where to find them, handle and point them, must love to hunt dead and return to the handler with shot birds, must be compelled (self motivated) to persist in hunting dead and tracking cripples. None of those skills have anything to do with steady to WSF. And all those more critical skills can be trained and shaped starting at an very young age provided the correct methods are used.

Truth be known only an extreme minority of Gundogs are maintained to be steady to WSF while hunting wild birds anyway. Most are never trained to that level at any point in their life, a fewer number (my dogs fit here) are trained to that level but then allowed to backslide while hunting wild birds to break and retrieve falling birds while hunting upland birds. My point in bringing this up is that it takes pressure to train a dog to be steady to WSF and thus there is wide spread agreement that this training is best deferred until the young dog is ready to benefit from that pressure. I do not undertake this phase of training until after the pup's first season of hunting wild birds.

But too many shade their entire approach to training with this extremely narrow facet of the dog's overall training and in doing so, miss out on the opportunity to accomplish many critical areas of training at a very young age with their pup.

Just now I did a Google search on clicker training and found this video. It is my first and only exposure to this man but he makes such an excellent point and visual on the overall point of shaping puppies with positive training methods at a very young age. It shows how powerful the tools are and how they shape the training relationship between handler and puppy for life.

This old dog continues to learn new tricks and the PR based training has an excellent role to play in Gundog training for those willing to use and learn it. The video is just to make the point of how it shapes a puppies joy and success in working with its handler that then shapes their relationship for life. Telling newbies that a 5 month old puppy is too young for training is doing a huge disservice to both the puppy and the prospective handler.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFPpDBZF45U

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Re: Start em Young

Post by gonehuntin' » Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:27 am

You may have misinterpreted what I said. I said a pup that young does not fit a PRO'S program. I would never have taken one that young unless I was a pup specialist. I start my pups at 8 weeks on birds and water but as a Pro, I want them old enough to take and manage pressure.
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:39 am

GH, I have followed your posts for several years and learned that you make alot of use in early development and PR based methods on your personal young puppies. I expect your DDs are performing very similar to my pups at the same age. So this post was not prompted by your posts in the other thread.

I thought about posting in that Thread, the Puppy Program that Jon Hann offers for 4-6 month old puppies. It is only a month long and focuses on the critical of gun and bird introductions and getting the puppy pointing. It is one good example, but more narrow than the many other items that are ideally also being developed in a puppy that age.

I think a well informed amateur can in many cases do better than a pro in the early stages of developing clients' puppies because the pro usually cannot spend enough small periods of time throughout the day with a puppy that the owner/amateur can. But that is different than the pup is too young to be trained. As you know, likely better than I.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:01 pm

pup in game bag.jpg
always a good choice to start early
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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:03 pm

pup with rabbit.jpg
Early with game at ...6 weeks old is good
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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:21 pm

Polmaise, Love it!

Image

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:46 pm

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Crackerd , really has the best ...with the Sausage .. :wink:

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Re: Start em Young

Post by Trekmoor » Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:01 am

I don't disagree with the O.P.'s post . I think that when advice is given not to "train" a 5 months old puppy , I and others who have advised against this are just giving cautious advice due to the fact that when someone asks about training so young a pup ,that person is likely to be an inexperienced beginner.

Some beginners tend to overdo the training given or perhaps insist on absolute obedience from a very young pup and when that is done a puppy can easily have the "go" trained right out of it. I did this myself to a lab pup I'd bred 40 plus years back and the result was a pup that won a puppy test at just 3 - 4 months old and then went on to win a second and a couple of thirds in Novice retriever trials at 11 -12 months old, she was placed in every trial I ran her in ….but she never won a 1st place. I'd trained the stuffing out of her. She was a very good bridesmaid but never became a bride. She could do anything required of her but did it at a relatively slow pace.


A judge remarked to me ...." Bill, she works well but always looks like her spring needs another turn or two of the key !" That pups litter sister became a F.T.Ch. but she was trained by a man who had not started on the serious training as early as I did.

I have never repeated that mistake ! I now train to suit the pup , not my own time schedule for when a pup will be ready for "serious" training.


Bill T.
The older I get, the better I was !

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Re: Start em Young

Post by gonehuntin' » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:11 am

Yes Bill, very common in our country with field trial retrievers. I am a HUGE fan of training young but to be honest, there are far, far, more dogs ruined by training too young than to old.
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Re: Start em Young

Post by ddoyle » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:46 am

As an extremely novice trainer I am with Bill and Gone. Breeders can have
wash out dogs. Where as if your hunting dog is also a family pet why
risk a washout. You are gonna have that dogs for years as your wife and
kids won't allow you to sell it as a pet to get a new gun dog. That is my philosophy
get pup excited and bonded plenty of time to train.
Doyle

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:17 pm

Training at any age, needs the correct methods tailored to the specific puppy/dog.

Using the correct methods (as in all positive, lots of exposure) a great deal of excellent work can be done starting very young. If a person is apt to do it wrong when working with a young puppy they are still apt to do it wrong as the puppy ages is my prediction/observation. But perhaps it has a less harmful lasting effect on an older pup, that is hard to predict in the abstract.

My urging remains do it right in the first place and then you do not have to pass up the superb opportunity to shape and mold an excellent dog starting at a very young age.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by JONOV » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:11 pm

averageguy wrote:Training at any age, needs the correct methods tailored to the specific puppy/dog.

Using the correct methods (as in all positive, lots of exposure) a great deal of excellent work can be done starting very young. If a person is apt to do it wrong when working with a young puppy they are still apt to do it wrong as the puppy ages is my prediction/observation. But perhaps it has a less harmful lasting effect on an older pup, that is hard to predict in the abstract.

My urging remains do it right in the first place and then you do not have to pass up the superb opportunity to shape and mold an excellent dog starting at a very young age.
I think that you overlook two important things...
1) Not all dogs mature on the same level. It is what it is. GSP's, for example, seem to mature extremely quickly and can take a lot of pressure with room for error.
2) With that in mind, a dog that's older and more mature is liable to be more forgiving. A Bank Analyst with a short fuse, shock collar, and inability to read whether a dog is obstinate or confused. can do a lot of damage, in a hurry. If I copied what a professional was doing with a GSP he was training for the NAVHDA Invitational, with my dog at five months, it would be a disaster. Now I can do some of that with my 2 year old dog because he has that foundation.

I also question the value of what a professional can do with a five month old dog that I can't.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:49 pm

I think what I wrote reads pretty clear and addressed the points that have been raised before they were raised.

I already stressed that training must be tailored to the individual puppy/dog. I stressed that working with young puppies is all about PR methods and exposure, not pressure. I made the specific point that some areas of training require pressure and shared that I defer those areas of training until the dog is ready for it, which generally is after its first hunting season. I listed those areas which are most critical to developing an outstanding wild bird dog that can and should be developed at an early age.

Nothing I wrote could remotely be interpreted as urging anyone to apply the same methods being applied to dog training for a VC to 5 month old puppy. The video I posted shows extremely happy and motivated puppies being brought along using PR.

An uninformed person with a short fuse cannot train a dog of ANY AGE and I advise them not to.

I have benefitted greatly from the Pro DVDs, Clinics and a few 1:1 sessions to address specific areas I was uncertain on in my training at the time, but have never shipped my dogs out for training. I encourage everyone willing to spend the time, and acquire the facilities/birds/equipment and knowledge to develop and train their own dogs.

But it is reasonable to assume that a person who took their puppy to a pro trainer has made a decision not to. Which means someone else must undertake the puppy's development or the pup otherwise misses out on it. That was and is the point of my posts in that thread and this one.

Disagree with my posts in the correct context, but please do not distort them into the opposite of what I believe I clearly communicated is my request.

And it is noteworthy that 3 pro trainers said they make heavy use of early development in their own puppies, in this thread. What they also said was if too much pressure was applied to a puppy too early it takes away. I agree, but that does not support an approach of therefore do not use low/no pressure PR methods at an early age, which is what I have been talking about all along.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:14 pm

Puppies are a "Sponge" !
They soak up everything ..How You Drip feed that Sponge will depend on how much water is retained .
Too much and it just gets Wet and full of water ,leaking out the other end .
...
Personally (That is just me !..No advice to Y"all mind) just saying ! :roll:
Around 4 weeks old a puppy (Of any breed including Your Gsps ,and Hound dogs and retrievers and Labradoodles and crossbreeds and ..anything really ) ..The breeder plays the Biggest part/Role in the first day in the rest of that Puppies life ! ..It is introduced to "Solids " (That could be any solid you like including mash ..before some Internet smart alex ,jumps in and starts talking about Kibble or raw or any other crap food related stuff) !
The very fact that a Human is involved in the process of connection with that Puppy is the First day of learning :wink: ..and the first day of "Training" !! ..What happens after that Is Up to You ? ..For whatever You want the dog to do . But every second that puppy is with whatever Human from that day , It is learning something from that Human ...and mostly the Puppy/young dog/adolescent dog/Adult dog ...from then on In ..will only ever do what works for "It" ! ...No matter your chosen training or direction of progress For You . :wink:
If You can work with that ....Then You are doing well . 8)

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:49 pm

My Dog and I took a 2 hour hunt this morning in an open to the public, large field of weedy grass cover 2-4 feet in height. 2 days of opening weekend public lands hunting pressure, mild weather, low bird numbers and a thinner than ideal cover made for running wild flushing pheasants. About 1.5 hours into the hunt, I wild flushed a woodcock while my dog was working out of sight in the cover about 65 yards from me. I identified the woodcock, and recovered in time to fire once and downed it. (While my dog has pointed a few woodcock on the Spring Migrations we have never hunted them and I wanted to get him a retrieve in hopes that he would be more apt to hunt and point them should we come across them in the fall.) My dog sprang up from the cover looking my way at the shot but of course had no mark. I toned him in with the ecollar as I walked to my mark in the 4 foot tall weedy grass cover and when he arrived on a run, I told him to "Hunt Dead". He did, for quite awhile and expanded his search when he did not come up with it. He persisted and came up with the bird which was farther out than the Mark I had used to start him on Hunt Dead.

I HATE to loose a bird. Ever. So I develop my puppies from a baby on up to excel at hunting dead. I start at 8-9 weeks tossing a treat into the short grass in the yard while the puppy is watching. It will naturally go to the treat immediately and as it does I am saying "Dead, Hunt Dead" and giving a hand signal to the spot on the ground where the puppy is already heading. I condition this for a few days and then do the same while the puppy is not looking. I simply get within a few feet of the puppy, motion with hand towards where I have already placed a treat when the puppy was not looking, and use the "Dead, Hunt Dead" command and hand signal. They will go there immediately and eagerly, and find the treat. I then switch the drill to using a cold dead bird I have already introduced prior and will start tossing it into increasingly taller cover. I call the puppy over on the downwind side, say Dead, Hunt Dead and motion with my hand towards the cover where I tossed the bird. I use excited praise when the puppy emerges from the cover proudly carrying the bird. The puppies love it! I work the same drill using a puppy bumper with wings zip tied to them. Down the road I introduce gunfire and while the puppy is out exploring I will toss the bumper into cover, fire a blank and call the puppy back to "Hunt Dead". I am conditioning the puppy that gun fire means there is going to be a bird to be recovered, always (they will learn later that I miss, some days more than others :D ). They will soon come running towards gunfire when they hear it.

My dogs have consistently excelled at recovering downed game and a key to it is the zero pressure conditioning I have just described starting at 8 -9 weeks of age when I acquire my puppies.

This is one example of what I am urging folks to do with their puppies. FF programs have their place and benefits when a puppy is 8 months or older but will never yield the same benefits for life that the drills I am describing here will/do.

This is just one area of early development, but a key one. And who cannot do what I just described with their puppies?

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Re: Start em Young

Post by chrokeva » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:53 pm

My 8 week old cocker pup. I obviously plan to start young getting her retrieving drive going just like I did with her mother. I did have to back off with mom when teething started though so that I did not create bad habits and plan to do the same with her pup.
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Re: Start em Young

Post by ezzy333 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:15 pm

This whole discussion about early training has to be based on the meaning of training, such as type and how. Without a concnses on that we re just talking about apples and oranges.

ezzy
http://www.perfectpedigrees.com/4genview.php?id=144
http://www.perfectpedigrees.com/4genview.php?id=207

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Has anyone noticed common sense isn't very common anymore.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:17 am

ezzy333 wrote:This whole discussion about early training has to be based on the meaning of training, such as type and how. Without a concnses on that we re just talking about apples and oranges.

ezzy
Yes, Hence the 3rd sentence in the first paragraph of my OP. I wrote more on the use of PR, exposure, play retrieve, low pressure bird introduction and pointing drills which are all the opposite of force and negative consequences, in the 3rd paragraph. The video shows PR based OB work ...

Those opposing the notion of early training are bringing an entirely different set of training methods to the table in that mindset.

Chrokeva - Cute Pup!

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Re: Start em Young

Post by Settertude » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:13 am

averageguy wrote:I did not want to Hijack cbf89's thread so I am starting a new one. I am amazed at how many GunDog folks post opinions that 5 month old puppies are too young for training. My take is it is rooted in a mind set that equates "training" with force and negative consequences.

There is another way and it yields a swift, life long pattern of joy in learning for a puppy/dog. The Gundog world lags in it severely in many camps.

I posted in that thread what I have accomplished with numerous GWP puppies in a row. I expect some equate early training as taking the fire out of a puppy. Nothing could be further from the truth provided it is done correctly. The short of it is using positive development techniques, positive OB training in house and yard settings, while also providing daily exposure to natural terrain and game, starting at a young age when the puppy is much easier to keep track of and more tractable to want to keep in contact with me while doing it. Play retrieve drills and properly used strong flying pigeons are used to develop the puppy's natural retrieve and pointing skills.

Working on OB while also building independence in the field is not an either or proposition, it is both.

Reading comments in that thread the always present theme of steady to WSF comes up. In my opinion, nothing in the world of Gundogs is more overblown than WSF. A great Gundog must have a love for birds and hunting for them, must learn where to find them, handle and point them, must love to hunt dead and return to the handler with shot birds, must be compelled (self motivated) to persist in hunting dead and tracking cripples. None of those skills have anything to do with steady to WSF. And all those more critical skills can be trained and shaped starting at an very young age provided the correct methods are used.

Truth be known only an extreme minority of Gundogs are maintained to be steady to WSF while hunting wild birds anyway. Most are never trained to that level at any point in their life, a fewer number (my dogs fit here) are trained to that level but then allowed to backslide while hunting wild birds to break and retrieve falling birds while hunting upland birds. My point in bringing this up is that it takes pressure to train a dog to be steady to WSF and thus there is wide spread agreement that this training is best deferred until the young dog is ready to benefit from that pressure. I do not undertake this phase of training until after the pup's first season of hunting wild birds.

But too many shade their entire approach to training with this extremely narrow facet of the dog's overall training and in doing so, miss out on the opportunity to accomplish many critical areas of training at a very young age with their pup.

Just now I did a Google search on clicker training and found this video. It is my first and only exposure to this man but he makes such an excellent point and visual on the overall point of shaping puppies with positive training methods at a very young age. It shows how powerful the tools are and how they shape the training relationship between handler and puppy for life.

This old dog continues to learn new tricks and the PR based training has an excellent role to play in Gundog training for those willing to use and learn it. The video is just to make the point of how it shapes a puppies joy and success in working with its handler that then shapes their relationship for life. Telling newbies that a 5 month old puppy is too young for training is doing a huge disservice to both the puppy and the prospective handler.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFPpDBZF45U
That is impressive!

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Re: Start em Young

Post by ddoyle » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:07 pm

averageguy wrote:
ezzy333 wrote:This whole discussion about early training has to be based on

Yes, Hence the 3rd sentence in the first paragraph of my OP. I wrote more on the use of PR, exposure, play retrieve, low pressure bird introduction and pointing drills which are all the opposite of force and negative consequences, in the 3rd paragraph. The video shows PR based OB work ...

Those opposing the notion of early training are bringing an entirely different set of training methods to the table in that mindset.

Chrokeva - Cute Pup!

Average I replied writing how more dogs washout when pushed young. I am not disagreeing with you on exposure etc... I take puppy walks and let them discover the joy of “going” with me.
My only point is that I have seen folks start this way dog looks good and are instinctively doing some things and owner thinks wow their ready and starts pushing and gets in trouble.
To sum up my belief is if you just have fun and don’t really “train” you avoid the temptation to push.
Doyle

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:25 pm

averageguy , I am in line with your original post ,but the Video link (To me ) doesn't best fit the Post .
I have many clients who have a real problem distinguishing between "Obedience" Training for the Ring or Ring Craft ..on a beize floor at Crufts ,Or Basic Obedience required for any Dog.
With "Clicker Training " process ,it can be hugely beneficial to shape behaviour between Handler and dog with close work .(And I will emphasise I am Not condoning Nor recommending any process or method for any one with any dog) . My experience however with using Close Obedience Training with the Clicker method it is primarily based on the dog focused on the Handler . Where in Gun Dog Field work the Dog is expected to be focused on the "Game"..with the Handler.
So ,If there was a Handle or pigeon hole ,or name required for the way trainers that use any communication with any dog ,then it should be "Balanced" . That balance being between what behaviour you are shaping in a young dog for the purpose it will be asked to do In the field ....If the intention is that ?
As an example : (And I know there is differences cross pond ) ,But One way cant fit all ...If it did Every one would be doing it :wink: The video is well presented for someone who would train an early pup for Obedience competition (imo) using Clicker process as one of the ways to achieve this .
However , If I had A retriever that I was intending to take forward for Field Trials and or the Shooting field I would be conditioning the dog to be Looking Forward at heel , Not me ! ...
The same could be said for a Spaniel , where I would be shaping the young dog to have its nose on the deck to Hunt on scent , Not focus on me . I could go on ..
Probably as I said at the start ...It is Not what you say , more that the Video link (imo) does not fit the words .....
.............
Can You Clicker Train a Pointing dog to Point ? ..But that doesn't mean Clicker training is bad ..Just a tool like any other .
I use a Stop whistle as an Audible reward marker in Positive reinforcement :wink:

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Re: Start em Young

Post by Sharon » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:39 pm

Wow. Good stuff in these posts above friends. We don't know how lucky we are here.
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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:19 pm

Polmaise, I wrote in my OP, that "Working on OB while also building independence in the field is not an either or proposition, it is both." Which sounds like shades of what you are saying about Balance, but maybe not?

I made use of clicker training for OB with my current dog, but also took him for walks in game country daily. I was looking to build a balance of a pup which enjoyed learning things, and quickly complying with OB commands, while also becoming bold and independent in the field.

Clicker training is a small part of my overall early development of my puppies, which I think fits with your comments. But using brief periods of clicker training in settings where the puppy's focus was on me, my puppies will sit, stay, heel, kennel, whoa and Come very well at an early age, while also being bold, working for game in the field.

I choose my spots very carefully when I ask a puppy to "Come" to me for example, looking for a moment when the puppy is already heading back my way and not obviously interested in something else. I want to succeed when I give the command at a young age so I avoid giving it when it is low odds the puppy will comply and in doing so am able to keep the early indoctrination mostly all positive praise. The pup will be dragging a light check cord which I can get my foot on, and reel them in if necessary but my objective in the early stages of training Come/Here is minimize the need to do so. I want the puppy to be happy to come to me so I look for the moments when that is likely to be the outcome. Down the road I will overlay an ecollar on the already trained command and the dog will learn that Come always means Come using very low levels of stimulation, but I will have engrained the correct behavior very early on, so the use of negative pressure is minimized when we are at that later stage.

When working on heel, I would work on it after the puppy had a run, working out as far as it chose to in natural terrain, and we were then heading back to the truck. Part of that timing was the truck was always parked a short distance from a road and safety purposes made it a good choice to ensure the pup was under my control as we neared the road/truck. So not a bad thing for the puppy to be focused on me at that point. When we arrived at the gravel parking lot we did some brief figure 8s, then loaded up in the crate which was also part of his early clicker training. So I used the clicker training in settings where I did want the pup to be focused on me and stayed silent in those situations where I wanted the pup's focus to be away from me.

When working on play retrieve, I use a tunnel such that the puppy only has one direction to run with the object and that is back to me. I am engraining the out and back behavior with no pressure.

Down the road, I switched from a Clicker to a Marker Word so that I could use both hands when working on Trained Retrieve. When the Pup took the object in its mouth on the table, I immediately gave the positive re-enforcement Marker word and then traded the object for a treat when I took it from the puppy. It was beneficial in maintaining an upbeat mentality for the puppy.

George Hickox has incorporated clicker training/conditioning into his Great Beginnings DVD, working with young EPs on kennel, Here/Come (without using the command), place board. I have a friend who put an AFC, and a UT1 204 (which requires off lead heeling, steady by the blind through multiple shots, steady to WSF in the field, multiple instances of delivery of shot game to hand) on her GSP before it was one year old using PR methods with no ecollar. That dog earned a VC title this past september before the age of 2 still using all PR training methods. She did the same with that dog's sire and dam (AFC, UT1, VC), which also have Senior Retrieving, FC, OB and Show ring titles. I have a couple of friends that have put their DDs through the VJP, HZP and VGP tests using primarily PR methods.

Interestingly the Females are more often the ones succeeding with these methods at the moment, because they seem to be more apt to embrace and try them.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:23 pm

averageguy wrote:Polmaise, I wrote in my OP, that "Working on OB while also building independence in the field is not an either or proposition, it is both." Which sounds like shades of what you are saying about Balance, but maybe not?

I made use of clicker training for OB with my current dog, but also took him for walks in game country daily. I was looking to build a balance of a pup which enjoyed learning things, and quickly complying with OB commands, while also becoming bold and independent in the field.

Clicker training is a small part of my overall early development of my puppies, which I think fits with your comments. But using brief periods of clicker training in settings where the puppy's focus was on me, my puppies will sit, stay, heel, kennel, whoa and Come very well at an early age, while also being bold, working for game in the field.

I choose my spots very carefully when I ask a puppy to "Come" to me for example, looking for a moment when the puppy is already heading back my way and not obviously interested in something else. I want to succeed when I give the command at a young age so I avoid giving it when it is low odds the puppy will comply and in doing so am able to keep the early indoctrination mostly all positive praise. The pup will be dragging a light check cord which I can get my foot on, and reel them in if necessary but my objective in the early stages of training Come/Here is minimize the need to do so. I want the puppy to be happy to come to me so I look for the moments when that is likely to be the outcome. Down the road I will overlay an ecollar on the already trained command and the dog will learn that Come always means Come using very low levels of stimulation, but I will have engrained the correct behavior very early on, so the use of negative pressure is minimized when we are at that later stage.

When working on heel, I would work on it after the puppy had a run, working out as far as it chose to in natural terrain, and we were then heading back to the truck. Part of that timing was the truck was always parked a short distance from a road and safety purposes made it a good choice to ensure the pup was under my control as we neared the road/truck. So not a bad thing for the puppy to be focused on me at that point. When we arrived at the gravel parking lot we did some brief figure 8s, then loaded up in the crate which was also part of his early clicker training. So I used the clicker training in settings where I did want the pup to be focused on me and stayed silent in those situations where I wanted the pup's focus to be away from me.

When working on play retrieve, I use a tunnel such that the puppy only has one direction to run with the object and that is back to me. I am engraining the out and back behavior with no pressure.

Down the road, I switched from a Clicker to a Marker Word so that I could use both hands when working on Trained Retrieve. When the Pup took the object in its mouth on the table, I immediately gave the positive re-enforcement Marker word and then traded the object for a treat when I took it from the puppy. It was beneficial in maintaining an upbeat mentality for the puppy.

George Hickox has incorporated clicker training/conditioning into his Great Beginnings DVD, working with young EPs on kennel, Here/Come (without using the command), place board. I have a friend who put an AFC, and a UT1 204 (which requires off lead heeling, steady by the blind through multiple shots, steady to WSF in the field, multiple instances of delivery of shot game to hand) on her GSP before it was one year old using PR methods with no ecollar. That dog earned a VC title this past september before the age of 2 still using all PR training methods. She did the same with that dog's sire and dam (AFC, UT1, VC), which also have Senior Retrieving, FC, OB and Show ring titles. I have a couple of friends that have put their DDs through the VJP, HZP and VGP tests using primarily PR methods.

Interestingly the Females are more often the ones succeeding with these methods at the moment, because they seem to be more apt to embrace and try them.
Yea , Well like I said ..The video clip perhaps doesn't fit the Content in the post ? ...A dvd by any Hick if well produced is nice to see. But it dont train any dog that I know :wink: ..It may or may not be a surprise that our side of the water we do not have e-collar programmes for Field dog Training, That includes the Males , which are prominent over female handler/Trainers.
......
I still believe "Obedience training" for dogs is detrimental for Field Training on game . I always believed Obedience for a Gun Dog is Paramount . :wink:

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:19 pm

Yes I was aware that Ecollars were not allowed over your way which makes your methods and results all the more interesting to me. I thought I was mostly agreeing with you on the need for balance and building independence in a GunDog, but perhaps I am missing some of your point?

The video was something I grabbed in a hurry and was never intended as an end all be all for GunDog training. There are a growing number of Clicker/Marker/Treat videos done by folks working with GunDog puppies as well however.

I am not sure how those dogs turn out, but mine hunted Doves, Sharptails, Bobwhites, Pheasants, and Waterfowl in 6 states before he was a year old. I developed him early on to be bold in the field and the water, but also not pulling my "bleep" across the parking lot on a leash to sniff the endless string of semi-trained dogs running loose in the motel parking lots of the prime bird hunting areas of rural America, while their owners shout a string of 6 different commands, none of which have ever been adequately trained ... I could heel my pup through a motel lobby, past people, past fake trees without hiking a leg, past other dogs, and down the hall to our room, after taking a limit a wild roosters over points earlier in the day starting at 8 months old.

He would sit at heel beside me sitting on a stool on his first dove hunt at 7 months, marking, retrieving to hand, hunting dead in heavy cover. He would eventually boil over with excitement/boredom during lulls and when he did we took a short loop walkabout through cover to burn off some energy and got back on stand. But he understood what Sit, Stay, Fetch, Hunt Dead and Come meant when I said it and was not challenged to comply with any of it for intervals reasonable for his age.

Image

Image

He would comply with my "Kennel" command and hand signal, jump up on and sit on a dog platform in the Marsh on his first teal hunt at 7 months old, after heeling to the jon boat, loading and sitting where I pointed and staying there as we motored through the Marsh with coots flushing beside the boat all along the way. I trained the Kennel command to jump onto the marsh platform using clicker and treats before we went on that hunt. Marked, searched for and retrieved teal to hand from a heavy rank smartweed marsh. Check out the angle of his tail on that retrieve photo. He is a happy and confident puppy.

Image

Working in the Whitecaps in ND on a 75 yard marked retrieve past the decoy spread before the age of 8 months.

Image

Pointing Wild Roosters on the same ND Trip before the age of 8 months.

Image

I could heel the pup down an icy inclined boat ramp to load into an airboat in the pitch dark where pulling on a leash would result in a broken hip for me, put ear muffs on him for the ride without him shaking them off (which only happened because of clicker/treat training we did prior), put him on a down stay command while I am setting up a natural cover blind and decoy spread in the dark. And then he would dodge icebergs coming down the river current while retrieving the ducks we shot when the sun came up. Before he was a year old.

I am just not seeing the downside of the OB work I do early on (which looks more similar than dis-similar to the video link), while also really wanting to understand better your thoughts/approach to the same subject. I think it is the method used in the video you object to but I do not understand the specifics of that and want to.

And I shared the photos for those concerned about taking the "Fire" out of a puppy due to early training work. Done right it yields wonderful results, done wrong not so much. But isn't that the way of all dog training?
Last edited by averageguy on Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:02 pm

Nice clips , enjoyed the pics "averageguy".
Yea Posting an available Video on You tube by someone else is often Not the best to Show Your dog :wink:
"I am not sure how those dogs turn out, but mine hunted Doves, Sharptails, Bobwhites, Pheasants, and Waterfowl in 6 states before he was a year old. I developed him early on to be bold in the field and the water, but also not pulling my "bleep" across the parking lot on a leash to sniff the endless string of semi-trained dogs running loose in the motel parking lots of the prime bird hunting areas of rural America, while their owners shout a string of 6 different commands, none of which have ever been adequately trained ... I could heel my pup through a motel lobby, past people, past fake trees without hiking a leg, past other dogs, and down the hall to our room, after taking a limit a wild roosters over points earlier in the day starting at 8 months old. "

I personally dont see it as a race , when age is mentioned in relevance to advancement or development in training (and often,many receive this as an accolade) I dont .
One can Build a Gun Dog to do the activity or Activities You want in any sequential process that is understood by the dog ..No matter the age . But It sure is easier when it is taught these things first base . ! ...If You choose Obedience (look at me stuff) then that is fine ...and there Is nothing finer than a Good looking dog Looking Good while it Looks at you , and everyone Looking thinks that is Cool . Then Hey ..Go for it . Fair play .
........
Has any one You know that has a program with PR teaching a Pointer dog to point without Game ? ..Just asking for research . :wink:

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:27 pm

Still not understanding your objection to the OB work in the video, but that is ok, not wanting to wear you out over it.

I agree it is not a race, but I love getting my puppies in the field early and often, and select puppies from litters that are ready to do it at a young age, so we do. The early development and training I do to prepare them is key, as are their genetics.

I gave my puppy opportunities to point pigeons in natural cover a couple of times a week starting around 3 months and opportunities on bobwhites, pheasants and every other form of wild game he came across daily starting on our walks at 9 weeks. I did it in silence. Clickers/Markers/Treats played no role in bringing out his pointing instinct, nor in our subsequent steady to WSF work after his first hunting season. (Did the same with the prior puppies)

I am unclear what the one Lady trainer I mentioned does with her GSPs to get them steady at such a young age. I would like to find out.

I know she uses a marker word, lots of praise, treats, no ecollar and had a background in OB and Showing dogs before she took up the GunDog training, hunting, testing and competing. Her dogs' AFC and FC titles tell us all she is not taking the Fire out of her dogs doing it. :D .
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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:43 pm

averageguy wrote: I am unclear what the one Lady trainer I mentioned does with her GSPs to get them steady as such a young age. I would like to find out.
Indeed .

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Re: Start em Young

Post by Compton30 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:20 pm

I'm not trying to argue with anyone about training, as I am very inexperienced. But I was astounded at how quickly my GSP pup was able to learn heel, whoa, kennel, and here using the clicker training. I guess the mantra "They learn faster if they're doing it for themselves" really is true when it came to that stuff.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by cjhills » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:25 pm

Compton30 wrote:I'm not trying to argue with anyone about training, as I am very inexperienced. But I was astounded at how quickly my GSP pup was able to learn heel, whoa, kennel, and here using the clicker training. I guess the mantra "They learn faster if they're doing it for themselves" really is true when it came to that stuff.
You will be even more amazed at how quickly he unlearns them when he wants to do his own thing and stops getting treats. If I had a dog who would quit chasing a bird for a Milkbone I would get rid of him...Cj

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Re: Start em Young

Post by ezzy333 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:55 pm

That explains why there are so many unwanted dogs.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:35 am

No the last two posts in this thread merely explain why the Birddog world lags all the rest of the working dog world in utilizing PR methods.

My early on readings about PR based OB were unfortunately from "Fur Baby" zealots who had never used an ecollar but none the less portrayed them as torturous devices that only the cruelest of trainers would ever use. I had made very productive use of ecollars to train numerous dogs at the time, and so I easily recognized how uneducated and wrong this point of view was. It kept me away from the PR based OB training methods longer than it would have otherwise.

We are seeing the reverse of that uneducated prejudice towards the use of PR based methods to train GunDogs in this thread and elsewhere. Again from those who have not tried the methods that they assure others will not work.

I had for a long time made some use of treats in my young puppy development, most notably in the Hunt Dead drill I described in this thread. But it was not until I made greater use of PR methods for OB at an early age, that I learned how wrong my prior views on the subject were. Prior to that, I commonly posted comments similar to CJ's last post.

Yes, a bold birddog may well require other methods of training to ensure lessons learned early stay learned. When my puppies reach that point I introduce and use an ecollar, but that is not a valid reason to miss out on all that can be accomplished using PR before that point in the puppy's development is reached. With the early indoctrination work my need for Force down the road is greatly reduced.

I have provided enough information to at least peak the interest of those with open minds and ears, which all that can be done on a public forum. And for those folks, do not let attempts to bog down my overall advocacy for developing puppies early and often, as a narrow PR based OB approach, dissuade your interest. My overall approach to early puppy development is far broader than that and includes many other facets that I have touched on in this thread.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by cjhills » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:21 am

The thing is, I don't think anyone is advocating not training a young dog. Most think the puppy would be better served to stay and bond with his new owner, rather then being sent off to a trainer the owner does not sound real comfortable with. Maybe expecting to much.
Photos of a 8 month pointing or retrieving on a wild bird hunt, do not say a lot about training. This should be done naturally, what the pup is bred to do and should not require training.....Cj

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Re: Start em Young

Post by Trekmoor » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:29 am

polmaise wrote:
Has any one You know that has a program with PR teaching a Pointer dog to point without Game ? ..Just asking for research . :wink:
Hi Robert, that's quite an interesting question ! I've certainly never trained a dog to point without using live game but why would anybody want to train a dog to point a training dummy ? Pointing dogs have been used to point creatures like hedgehogs and even dead bats for research purposes into these species. A man who used to live near me had a GSP trained to point injured and dead bats , he worked for a research group interested in knowing how many bats were being killed or injured by the big windmill thingies that are all over the place in Scotland now. He did say though that his dog often pointed on injured or dead creatures that were not bats too.


I suppose that , to a dog, a bat is a form of "game " especially if the dog was made to think that his pointing of bats was the thing that really pleased it's trainer ? Our gundogs get praised for pointing gamebirds and ignored or urged on if they point dicky birds so they tend to point gamebirds by preference eventually.


I have no intention of ever even trying to start a pup on dummies or anything else that isn't alive and which possibly has human hand scent on it. If a dog was trained/encouraged to do that and then this was transferred over on to game then the dog might be inclined to point on every empty beer can it found during a hunt ! The result would be far too many "unproductive" points.

It is an interesting idea though. Dogs could be trained to point, for example, on drugs or firearms . There is a Scottish trainer you know who has trained a dog (a GSP) to point on command. He worked backwards from game to do this and that dog was used for demo's . He commanded the point with a whistle whenever he felt that the dog was not getting the scent from the caged bird during a demo due to the spectators being all around the arena.

Those points were very "soft" looking but the great majority of the spectators still thought the "point" was wonderful ! :lol:

I long ago lost count of the numbers of newbie pointing dog owners who asked me how to train their dogs to point without using game . They seemed to think their dogs could be trained to point down in the local park by using a dummy ! Maybe it could be done but the end result would not be a good hunting dog.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by JONOV » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:12 am

I kind of think that AverageGuy and Polmaise are talking past each other.

Walking at heel for example, even when hunting, is unlikely to be a situation where a dog would need to be "hunting."

In a UK Field Trial (For Labs,) as it has been explained to me, the dogs are required to walk at heel, in a line with other handlers and their dogs, and when a bird gets up and is shot, The next dog in line is sent for the retrieve. So, when its your dogs turn, he has to make that retrieve even if he's at the opposite end of the skirmish line from where the bird got up. Other dogs are expected to be quiet and honor.

The closest thing we have is a steady-by-blind or honoring retrieves, which are still quite different from several dogs walking at heel while game is shot and honoring.

If AverageGuy is like most of us in the US, he needs to heal the dog around a boat ramp and a parking lot and in the yard away from the squirrels and other dogs, so though the behavior is the same the context of the task is much different.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:46 pm

I believe when You advocate one thing over another you get opposition .
So far , in this thread we have had discussion.
If anyone can show or even say that One single strategy or process works for every "Handler" and Dog for every breed for every scenario in every field of training or activity with Gun Dogs then I will tip my hat :wink:
My observation and contribution to the discussion was primarily that the Script posted was not in line with the video clip shown. (imo)
Conditioning wanted behaviour in a dog as a pup is so "bleep" easy ! ...If you agree with that , then you must agree that Conditioning unwanted behaviour in a dog as a pup is the same :wink:

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:39 pm

cjhills wrote: Photos of a 8 month pointing or retrieving on a wild bird hunt, do not say a lot about training. This should be done naturally, what the pup is bred to do and should not require training.....Cj
Yea my dog's Breeder deserves the credit for the strong genetics to retrieve and point.

Image

Image

But suggesting that a smooth hunt where a 7 month old puppy sits, marks, hunts dead and retrieves to hand 30 doves on its first hunt, heels to a jon boat, sits where told to while coots flush beside the boat motoring in, jumps up on a marsh platform and sits while ducks work, jumps off to retrieve when sent and comes back with the bird on his first teal hunt a week after that first dove hunt, goes to ND 2 weeks later and holds a point repeatedly on wild pheasants and sharptail grouse allowing me to walk in front and flush and shoot the birds, retrieves a 2 man limit of ducks working through a decoy spread and mojos, in 40 MPH wind and whitecaps, including 75 yard marked retrieves, could all done based on Natural Ability with no prior training, there is no reason for us to discuss anything further. My post accompanying those photos was done to highlight for interested folks several of the early training items that were critical to the smooth, hugely successful first hunts for that puppy. Make light of it as you please but I trust others will see through it.

If 8 month old puppies retrieving shot wild birds to hand on land and water, searching boldly, pointing birds and holding a point while the hunter flushes and shoots, were common based on natural ability alone, with no need for prior conditioning/training, we would see a whole lot less posts from folks having trouble with puppies which won't pick up a bird, won't return to the handler with the bird, chewing on a bird, taking out birds with no hesitation or point at all, pups competing with their handler and breaking point and flushing birds when the handler approaches...

I believe you know better CJ, so not sure why you posted such a claim.
Last edited by averageguy on Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:52 pm

polmaise wrote: Conditioning wanted behaviour in a dog as a pup is so "bleep" easy ! ...If you agree with that , then you must agree that Conditioning unwanted behaviour in a dog as a pup is the same :wink:
Yes, easy examples come to mind. Calling a puppy when it is highly unlikely to come to you while you are also not in a position to re-enforce the command is one extremely common example of training unwanted behavior. Shooting birds that a pointing breed puppy takes out instead of pointing is another. Letting puppies road into the scent cone because you want to see it point, instead of launching the bird in silence the moment the puppy indicates it smells the bird and moves towards it, is yet another.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by polmaise » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:08 pm

averageguy wrote:
polmaise wrote: Conditioning wanted behaviour in a dog as a pup is so "bleep" easy ! ...If you agree with that , then you must agree that Conditioning unwanted behaviour in a dog as a pup is the same :wink:
Yes, easy examples come to mind. Calling a puppy when it is highly unlikely to come to you while you are also not in a position to re-enforce the command is one extremely common example of training unwanted behavior. Shooting birds that a pointing breed puppy takes out instead of pointing is another. Letting puppies road into the scent cone because you want to see it point, instead of launching the bird in silence the moment the puppy indicates it smells the bird and moves towards it, is yet another.
Yes well that would be a few of over hundreds of scenarios ... (Of Wrong application ) . Calling a Puppy and any method used for it is Not necessarily Wrong ..Is it ?
Shooting Birds is Not necessarily wrong (The application however can be) .......I have reservations on reply to your 3rd ...So I will take the (5th) ..on that :wink:

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Re: Start em Young

Post by cjhills » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:42 pm

averageguy wrote:
cjhills wrote: Photos of a 8 month pointing or retrieving on a wild bird hunt, do not say a lot about training. This should be done naturally, what the pup is bred to do and should not require training.....Cj
Yea my dog's Breeder deserves the credit for the strong genetics to retrieve and point.

Image

Image

But suggesting that a smooth hunt where a 7 month old puppy sits, marks, hunts dead and retrieves to hand 30 doves on its first hunt, heels to a jon boat, sits where told to while coots flush beside the boat motoring in, jumps up on a marsh platform and sits while ducks work, jumps off to retrieve when sent and comes back with the bird on his first teal hunt a week after that first dove hunt, goes to ND 2 weeks later and holds a point repeatedly on wild pheasants and sharptail grouse allowing me to walk in front and flush and shoot the birds, retrieves a 2 man limit of ducks working through a decoy spread and mojos, in 40 MPH wind and whitecaps, including 75 yard marked retrieves, could all done based on Natural Ability with no prior training, there is no reason for us to discuss anything further. My post accompanying those photos was done to highlight for interested folks several of the early training items that were critical to the smooth, hugely successful first hunts for that puppy. Make light of it as you please but I trust others will see through it.

If 8 month old puppies retrieving shot wild birds to hand on land and water, searching boldly, pointing birds and holding a point while the hunter flushes and shoots, were common based on natural ability alone, with no need for prior conditioning/training, we would see a whole lot less posts from folks having trouble with puppies which won't pick up a bird, won't return to the handler with the bird, chewing on a bird, taking out birds with no hesitation or point at all, pups competing with their handler and breaking point and flushing birds when the handler approaches...

I believe you know better CJ, so not sure why you posted such a claim.
I don't believe I made any such claim.....Cj

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Re: Start em Young

Post by gundogguy » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:12 am

FC AFC CFC Zeta 1st training session. Done 6yrs ago when she was 14 weeks old. It was the beginning It even has the look of an old silent movie with her as the heroin!
Start em young before they learn how to avoid. These are very short vids a quick view.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5ipwymPm5o

Her 2nd work out the next day in October

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0CRzD9-mC4

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sat Nov 03, 2018 6:03 am

gundogguy wrote: Start em young before they learn how to avoid.
That is so True. Thanks for Sharing your videos and congratulations on what you accomplished with your dog.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by j d patrick » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:29 am

good stuff on here averageguy,,,,I've learned a lot training my 1st versatile dog,,,and most of the "I'll do different next time" orient around starting certain things MUCH earlier than the program I used advocated,,,

thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:09 pm

Thanks JD. Hope your hunting season is going well.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by j d patrick » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:25 pm

averageguy wrote:Thanks JD. Hope your hunting season is going well.

so far so good,,,only have weekends to hunt right now as my dog and I have work duties in Maryland lately,,,,but am home for 10 days starting this Friday so will be after game,,,then to LA for a duck hunt,,,then SW Texas to chase quail, hogs, and javelina,,,,,,

may end up in the central plains in january,,,,still pending

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:15 pm

Sounds like a great fall agenda. Safe Travels, Happy Hunting.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:40 pm

Not sure there is much love or knowledge for NAVHDA on this board, but the Invitational Issue of their magazine came out this week.

On the cover is a GSP which was bred, owned, trained and handled by a Lady using all PR training methods, no ecollar and no FF.

Image

The dog passed his UT Prize 1 max score of 204 at less than one year of age. That test requires a dog to steady to WSF hunting and shooting live birds, heel off leash through a series of pole bending gates, remain steady by a blind through a series of gunshots while the handler is out of sight, followed by 75 yard marked water retrieve, a tracking drag and retrieve of approx 200 yards out of sight of the handler, and a search for a released live duck in a swimming depth heavy cover marsh working completely independent of the handler after the initial send for a minimum of 10 minutes. All retrieves must be delivered to hand.

The dog passed his Versatile Champion title i.e. the Invitational (only Prize 1 UT dogs are invited to enter) at 2 years of age. This test includes a one hour upland segment hunting live shot birds with a brace mate again requiring steady to WSF and honoring of the bracemate at all opportunities to do so with zero handling in doing so. And it includes a double water mark, a blind water retrieve and an honor setup where another dog is sent to retrieve from behind and past the dog required to honor.

The dog also has also earned an AFC title thus far so not a low drive dog.

The Lady has had similar success training the dog's Granddam, sire and several half siblings to similar titles (FC as well) at similar young ages using PR, no ecollar and no FF on those dogs as well.

Makes a Guy situp and take notice, or if not it should.
Last edited by averageguy on Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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gundogguy
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Re: Start em Young

Post by gundogguy » Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:51 pm

Here in the states that is very nice. Impressive to say the least. Though in the UK and German it's an every day occurrence.
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averageguy
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Re: Start em Young

Post by averageguy » Sun Dec 16, 2018 5:09 pm

Yes it is a common occurrence elsewhere. And that includes widespread use in training just about every other form of working dogs in the US, other than Gundogs. Which makes some of the comments in this thread all the more surprising given there is no lack of evidence for the success of PR methods, including at much younger ages than can be done with pressure methods of training. The US Gundog world lags significantly in this arena, but change is happening for those willing to embrace it. To be clear I make excellent use of my ecollar and would not wish to be without it, but the PR plays an even bigger role especially in the early stages of training.

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Re: Start em Young

Post by Trekmoor » Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:42 am

Since I have never been in the States I do not really know whether the standards of dog work in your tests and trials are the approximate equivalent of those in Britain or not. I can, however, say with some confidence that "gundogguys" last post on here is correct. In Britain dogs are trained to win tests and trials with no use of e-collars or of F.F. I have won trials with dogs of several breeds that have never had any kind of collars around their necks and which retrieved because they wanted to ...no F.F. at all.

That was not a brag because no other trial winners I know of use e-collars or F.F. either. It's just the way things are here . In general e-collars are frowned upon and F.F. is seldom, if ever even mentioned, never mind used ! Most gundog trainers in Britain wouldn't even know where to start with F.F. training . I have only F.F. trained one dog and that was nearly 50 years ago. He wasn't a gundog , he was a big male border collie with a very "hard" temperament who did not take any interest at all in retrieving.

I wanted to win Obedience competitions with him in the ring so, since none of the "nice" ways of training a retrieve worked , I resorted to a not so nice way .... I F.F.'d him and he did win numerous competitions ....so I know how well F.F. can work but I still would not use it on a gundog. I.M.O. I should n't need to F.F. a well bred gundog . The breeder should have taken that job away from me when he bred the litter.

In Britain we expect our gundogs to pick up and retrieve all of the usual kinds of game both furred and feathered and most of our dogs do that even if their trainer/owner hasn't got much of a clue about gundog training. The dogs may need some encouragement to begin with but it is all done by praise not by falling back onto F.F. training.

If I lived in the States I accept that I probably would have to use an e-collar if I wanted to win trials......but I doubt very much if I would have to use F.F.. Just about every gundog of every breed I have ever owned has been a retrieve freak . The breeders had done their work to ensure that was the case.


:?: Did the use of F.F. become the norm in the states because over there far more gundog owners send their dogs to be pro-trained than is the case in Britain ? Did those pros simply find it more convenient and less time consuming to train F.F. rather than the more drawn out process of encouraging a "natural retrieve "to the point where a pup became consistently good at it ?


Bill T.
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