Getting more rangeHello,
I have a 6 month old pudelpointer. She is excellant hunting for grouse and ducks. However, when pheasant hunting, she hunts very close instead of working and area back and forth in front of us like I have seen in other dogs. I have no problems with her hunting style, but I know for NAVDA testing when she will have to hunt her style will hurt her score. How can I develop her ranging to better suit the hunting conditions?
Thanks in advance,
You raise a question that is often asked my many people who train their own Versatile dog for hunting. How do I get more range out of the dog? Well first if you have a young dog, the dog is demonstrating dependence on you. By this I mean the dog is just unsure of its self and with more hunting experience the dog should range more. The biggest mistake first time Versatile dog owners do is constantly hack, call or try to keep this versatile breed in gun range constantly. They are unwilling to let the dog go because they always want that shot. Or they are afraid the dog will run off never to bee seen again. Trust me the dog wants to be with you more that you with it. Jim & Phyllis Dobbs in there retriever book have some good suggestions on helping young dogs range.
For me the beauty of hunting with the versatile breed is that they point and I have mine trained for before and after the shot on both land and water. If the dog starts to be a big runner one way I use to keep a dog checking on me is to not say a thing to the dog, let it get out there, and when the dog gets too far out of range, I hide on the dog. Eventually the dog will notice I am gone and come looking for me. This method done enough will cause the dog to check on where I am more often. But this is not your problem.
Don't get caught walking the same straight line. If the dog moves off to the left say 25 yards then you turn right. Don't say anything to the dog but watch what happens. The dog should move to get to you. Another way is pick up your walking pace. Don't lolly-gag but walk at a brisk pace. One other way to is run this dog with another big running dog. This also can help. But at all times keep your praise to a minimum because I am guessing the dog is just to dependent on you right now and the dog is under 2 years of age.
Another thing that comes to mind is go out to the field with a buddy, your child or your wife or girlfriend, someone the dog knows. Stay 5 to 10 yards apart, work towards 50 to 70 yards apart and let the dog run between both of you. Take turns calling the dog as it works in front of each of you. The dog should respond back and forth. Now I would not actually call her name but say 'good dog' or 'good boy or girl' to the dog as it passed me.
Also please keep in mind that if the wind is quite strong and in your face this will cause the dog to stay much closer. Try working down-wind and see what happens. Most times the dog will race straight down wind and work back towards you. When I am testing in NAVHDA I always pay strict attention to the wind. If I want more search (farther out) I will turn either down or cross wind. Really helps the dog.
But Larry, try to join a NAVHDA chapter in your area. These people are just a group that are there to help you train our own versatile hunting dog. They surely can and should be able to get you on the right track.
And last but not least you state her search is such that it will hurt her score because of her style. Again I really need to know how old the dog is. And some dogs just hunt closer than others. There is no style to the method of field search at least not what I have judged. I like to see a dog that is not dependent on the handler but not so independent that it is considered a "self-hunter", i.e. is hunting for itself and the hell with you! The only thing that could really hurt your score is if the dog was at your side or constantly underfoot. If this happens just pick you walking pace up saying nothing to the dog. But just motor. You are allowed to walk fast just short of running and the judges will stay up with you. But if this is done enough it will be noted. It is a good method to make the dog move faster and do try it. Also I am willing to bet that once the dog gets into a few planted birds the field search changes. Anyhow let me know the outcome.
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