One of the hardest aspects of training pointing dogs is gaining the ability to read the dog. You have to think like a doctor diagnosing a patient. You don’t want to be distracted by symptoms; rather, you want to figure out the problem. A great example is a dog that establishes point and then begins to creep. Many trainers correct the dog for creeping. However, creeping is merely a symptom. The real problem is that the dog still wants to chase the bird. Maurice Lindley sums up the situation this way: “Most people start correcting the dog for creeping, which is wrong. The correction should be for chasing. Once the chase is gone, creeping won’t be an issue.”
I have been steadying two young dogs on quail in releasers this fall, after foundation work on pigeons. Each dog is handling quail differently. The male points the releaser, and when I flush the bird, he sometimes chases like a pup. Dogs like him are easy to work because anytime he chases, I use the e-collar to take away the chase.
The female is a different story. She points and then starts to creep. If I take a step, she takes a step. If I tap her to move up, she will not move. Trying to stop this type of creeping will have you pulling your hair out. The only way to really fix the problem is to set up a situation where the dog chases. You need good flying quail that get up when pressured by the dog.
I found some ragweed cover in my training field open enough so that birds could run, but high enough so that they stayed in the area. I tossed down a couple of dizzied birds and waited about thirty minutes. When I brought the female into the area, she made game. She knew birds were running, and it got her excited. She knocked two birds in a row, chasing both, and I corrected her with the e-collar. It will take a few more corrections to get her right, but by focusing on the problem (chasing) and ignoring the symptoms (creeping), I am well on my way to having a stylish little bird dog that will make me proud.