Wednesday, December 1, 2010


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. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teaching a Young Dog to Come to You

An easy way to get a dog to come to you is to ask him to go with you. The best time to begin is when your dog is young. At about five months old, you may notice that your pup is harder to pick up after a run. Your pup used to always come to you when you called him, but now he doesn’t want to come to you at all. This is a normal stage in your pup’s development, when he learns to become independent from his dam.
When your pup reaches this independent stage, try to avoid calling him to you if you know he’s not going to respond. If you do, you are teaching him not to listen. Instead, ask him to go with you. Turn and start walking in a new direction. He doesn’t want to be left behind or miss anything, so when he sees you leaving, he will run to get in front of you. As he gets close, turn toward him, bend down, and call his name. If your timing is right, he should almost run right into you. Pet him up and let him know how happy you are with his behavior. You are working with his instinct to be in front, and at the same time, you’re building cooperation.
As your pup matures, there may come a time when he no longer wants to go with you. At this stage, you need to stop running him until you introduce the e-collar, so you can stay in control. Once the e-collar has been introduced, try to avoid the temptation to use it to make him come to you. It’s easy to make a dog come to you with an e-collar, but the dog will always resent it. Instead, ask him to go with you, and if he refuses, use the e-collar to ask him to bend and go with you. It’s all right to use the e-collar in this situation, because your dog was bred to be in front; he’s not going to resent it because you are asking him to do what he was already bred to do.
As he runs to catch up, bend down and call him. You will find him becoming more and more cooperative, and eventually you will be able to call him to you when he is farther away, and he will come running. By going slowly and working with your dog’s instincts, you are building cooperation, and you and your dog are becoming a team.