Pigeons and puppies

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Huntin4fun » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:39 am

Thanks again for all the advice guys! It is appreciated!

Just finished up building a coop/pen and my launchers are arriving tomorrow!
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Huntin4fun » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:35 pm

Update:

Been soaking in as much info as possible from here, literature, DVD, and local NAVHDA members and I think I am done with pigeons.

After receiving my launchers on the 3rd, I have been out 5 times. Here is essentially how it went. Feel free to chime in, even if you disagree with any of what I did.

Day 1: placed 3 pigeons in a field and let the dog find them. He pointed them very nice. I waited a short time, launched them, and praised him. He was still a little confused I think because the scent of the launchers was still there.

Day 2: another 3, same thing only this time I waited a little longer and actually advanced towards the bird slightly and launched them. This time he ran after and leapt through the grass to get them as they flew.

Day 3: essentially the same as the last two, but this time, as the dog was chasing, I fired a 22 blank. No response whatsoever from the dog.

Day 4: same thing, only this time had a 4.10. no response from the dog on the first two when I shot away from the dog, so I attempted to shoot the 3rd bird....I missed! Dog still showed no response to the gun and he was pretty close.

Day 5 ( earlier today): only had 2 pigeons to put two out. First bird he pointed real nice, albeit at a little distance, but I blame that on the stiff wind. I waited a bit, slowly moved in ever so slightly and launched the bird. When the bird started flying away, I shot it with my 20 gauge. Dog chased it down and grabbed the bird. He ran around like a crazy puppy with the pigeon in his mouth for a bit but wouldn't give it to me (sort of expected that). I simply said "hunt them up" and he dropped it and started hunting when he saw me continuing in the field. The next bird didn't go quite so well. It launched but wasnt able to fly. It fell, the dog grabbed it, and paraded it, but this time did bring it to me. As we were walking back and the dog was hunting out a ways in front of me, I threw the bird up and shot it. The dog went and grabbed it and brought it back, again after a little victory lap. I wasn't going to shoot the last one because he didn't point it that time, but I guess I imagined an NA test where they want to see the dogs reaction when they fire a gun when the dog is working the field.

So as mentioned, I think I am done with pigeons? At this point i think I am going to take the next weeks to focus on obedience in the yard/house, and then the following weeks working on woah, again in the yard with woah boards, and finally heel. (Hickox and Mo) After he is doing good with that, take him out in the field and plant some quail which are a bit cheaper and easier to get than pigeons, or chuckar, and see how he does. By then it will be darn close to hunting season!

Again, feel free to criticize or give opinions.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:51 pm

Done with pigeons? Your dog's isn't steady, won't STF, won't retrieve . To be blunt I'd say you're just getting started.

But it's OK. I'd take him hunting and revisit the training next year. Wild birds will teach him a lot.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Huntin4fun » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:04 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:Done with pigeons? Your dog's isn't steady, won't STF, won't retrieve . To be blunt I'd say you're just getting started.

But it's OK. I'd take him hunting and revisit the training next year. Wild birds will teach him a lot.


Still planning on using launchers and birds, just sick of pigeons. Thinking quail and chuckar at this point...any reason to stay with pigeons?

Edit: to explain my dislike for pigeons lol! I have no interest in raising birds, so I buy them. I pay $5 or $6 for a pigeon depending on where I get them from. Haven't had much luck catching them either! I can get quail for $4 or $5, or chuckar for $6 or $7, and both IMO are a lot cleaner and tastier than pigeons!
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:15 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:Done with pigeons? Your dog's isn't steady, won't STF, won't retrieve . To be blunt I'd say you're just getting started.

But it's OK. I'd take him hunting and revisit the training next year. Wild birds will teach him a lot.


X2

I am in the camp that does not do formal steady work until after the pup's first hunting season. Let them learn their craft on wild birds first.

The reason to use pigeons is because they fly away. Pen raised quail will sabotage your training. A lot. By not flying or flying short enough distances, and low that your pup will chase them to the ground and catch them when they light. And that will take away all that beautiful natural point your pup has shown you so far ...

I use light homemade check cords on my puppies, letting them drag them as they go. Then when your puppy is playing keep away with a bird, you can calmly get your foot on the check cord, call the pup and gently reel it into you as you kneel down, praise and pet the pup while continuing to let it hold the bird. When you take away, give it another toss immediately, so he does not learn to resent bringing it to you.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:18 pm

AG posted as I was writing this ( and your edit too) so I'll ramble anyway....

Pigeons are strong and good flyers so usually you don't have to worry about the dog catching them. Homers are the best, but you can get ferals to "home" 15miles or so. And pigeons are tough and can be used over and over (unless your dog is like one of mine). Quail are frail and not good flyers. Chukar can be either good for bad, but are better if raised in a flight pen (which most aren't, at least not around here). Chukars are expensive and aren't as easy to recall. Quail recall easily but they've other traits that make them a lesser choice.

In general, letting a dog catch a bird is bad because it teaches the dog that it can probably catch the next one, and then the next. So then it's not steady anymore. An experience like what you described can set your program back and confuse the dog. Therefore weak flying birds are to be avoided unless you're dealing with an older dog that's well versed in the lingo.

Killing birds for your dog is OK as long as it's just occasionally. Versatile dogs don't need to get dead birds when they're at this stage of training, and it just complicates things. You need to work on one thing at a time and devote a lot of attention to it since it's the foundation for all that's to come. A dog that's "sometimes steady" or "sometimes won't bring the bird back" or "sometimes does this or that" causes all sorts of problems. These tasks are sequential and you can't do the advanced stuff if problems with the basics keep showing up. Besides, you don't need retrieving issues when you've got a check cord in one hand and an ecollar transmitter in the other and a remote release transmitter around your neck. So FF this winter and then shoot all the birds you want.

But steadying your dog doesn't have to take all summer. I previously posted a method that gets the dog steady quickly, and because it's sort of a game the dog participates with enthusiasm rather than fear or confusion. I know there are lots of ways of going about it but it's something that I know works with very young dogs and avoids lots of issues later.


Five months old is a very young dog and, although he's soaking up stuff quickly on a lot of fronts, he hasn't figured much out yet. When you hunt, wild birds do not let the dog get very close so be prepared for them to flush before your dog even gets a chance to set up. If your dog is really good at STF (and you've added a little e-stim later in the process) then you might be able to get some nice points, flushes, etc. Having twenty chukar bust out in front of the dog will pretty much erase everything the dog's ever learned so don't expect much at this age. If you intend to use the collar while hunting then the dog needs to know it's getting the stimulation for not "whoaing" or because it broke, rather than being shocked by the birds that just flushed. This is critical. Too much will make the dog "blink" birds and cause other problems. So, learn how to use the collar when you're teaching steadiness and you'll be OK with that.

Most would say that at this point the very best thing for a young dog is to take it hunting as much as possible and let the dog sort this all out. Too much pressure on a young dog only causes problems that can be insurmountable later on, or cause lots of confusion now. I sense you've not done this before so go slow yourself. It's amazing how differently your dog will take to these training issues when it's 1 1/2years old vs. 1/2.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Huntin4fun » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:30 am

Understood guys. My dislike of pigeons (cost, availability) seems to be clouding my judgment. Will do some yard work to get him under control as he is becoming quite the handful, and revisit pigeons in launchers. As mentioned, hunting season is quickly approaching so hopefully I can find some good bird contacts for him, although "wild birds" and "Wisconsin" don't necessarily go together.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby ryanr » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:57 pm

Huntin4fun wrote:
Bruce Schwartz wrote:Done with pigeons? Your dog's isn't steady, won't STF, won't retrieve . To be blunt I'd say you're just getting started.

But it's OK. I'd take him hunting and revisit the training next year. Wild birds will teach him a lot.


Still planning on using launchers and birds, just sick of pigeons. Thinking quail and chuckar at this point...any reason to stay with pigeons?

Edit: to explain my dislike for pigeons lol! I have no interest in raising birds, so I buy them. I pay $5 or $6 for a pigeon depending on where I get them from. Haven't had much luck catching them either! I can get quail for $4 or $5, or chuckar for $6 or $7, and both IMO are a lot cleaner and tastier than pigeons!


Any reason to stay with pigeons? Uh yeah, they fly much more reliably. Say you go back to using chukars or quail in launchers. You launch the chukar or quail and it doesn't fly, or it fly's 10ft and lands and your pup catches it. Wanna know how quickly your young dog will go from starting to hold points to just charging in on every bird, once it catches a couple of poor flying birds?

Honestly, I do not know why you would want to take a chance setting your pup back in its progression just because you think shooting a chukar or quail is more fun for you than a pigeon?
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Kiger2 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:43 pm

So what we have learned is that preparation is important.

Dog chases quail 500 yards. Dog is startled by launcher etc....

YYou can prepare the dog for launchers by simply putting them in the driveway and activating them with no bird. We can take the 500 yard run out of the dog by simple waving a pigeon in his face and then throwing it. They soon learn they cant catch it so no point in chasing. Then we put birds in the launcher in the driveway and launch the birds and the dog learns he cant catch birds coming out of the launcher. Then when we go train, we have a pretty good idea of how the dog will react, because we prepared him.

Once we have the dog conditioned to the launcher and not chasing flyers, we can start incorporating being steady as bruce suggested.

Dog is 5 months old, we can start obedience drills and then overlay ecollar on the commands so we have the dog prepared to go hunting. No reason to take the dog hunting if he won't come when called. This is just yard training and has no impact on the dogs hunt. Its a simple rule, we don't ask the dog to obey a command in the field if he does not fully understand it in the yard. Then we have a tool to call the dog when we do shoot a bird for him.

Of course , we could always just take him hunting and be prepared for how unprepared the dog is.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Huntin4fun » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:38 pm

ryanr wrote:
Huntin4fun wrote:
Bruce Schwartz wrote:Done with pigeons? Your dog's isn't steady, won't STF, won't retrieve . To be blunt I'd say you're just getting started.

But it's OK. I'd take him hunting and revisit the training next year. Wild birds will teach him a lot.


Still planning on using launchers and birds, just sick of pigeons. Thinking quail and chuckar at this point...any reason to stay with pigeons?

Edit: to explain my dislike for pigeons lol! I have no interest in raising birds, so I buy them. I pay $5 or $6 for a pigeon depending on where I get them from. Haven't had much luck catching them either! I can get quail for $4 or $5, or chuckar for $6 or $7, and both IMO are a lot cleaner and tastier than pigeons!


Any reason to stay with pigeons? Uh yeah, they fly much more reliably. Say you go back to using chukars or quail in launchers. You launch the chukar or quail and it doesn't fly, or it fly's 10ft and lands and your pup catches it. Wanna know how quickly your young dog will go from starting to hold points to just charging in on every bird, once it catches a couple of poor flying birds?

Honestly, I do not know why you would want to take a chance setting your pup back in its progression just because you think shooting a chukar or quail is more fun for you than a pigeon?


Understood! While I realized that pigeons were a lot better flyers than quail or chuckar, I had hoped that with the intro of the launchers that they would suffice. As mentioned earlier, I haven't had any luck catching them as of yet but I recently found a new spot with more pigeons than I would need to train 10 dogs so am going to give it another try. It really want about the "fun", but more about the cost, availablity, and ease that quail and chuckar offer. I can actually get hen pheasants for less than what some guys around me are getting for pigeons, so I was eager to move on.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Huntin4fun » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:08 pm

Kiger2 wrote:So what we have learned is that preparation is important.

Dog chases quail 500 yards. Dog is startled by launcher etc....

YYou can prepare the dog for launchers by simply putting them in the driveway and activating them with no bird. We can take the 500 yard run out of the dog by simple waving a pigeon in his face and then throwing it. They soon learn they cant catch it so no point in chasing. Then we put birds in the launcher in the driveway and launch the birds and the dog learns he cant catch birds coming out of the launcher. Then when we go train, we have a pretty good idea of how the dog will react, because we prepared him.

Once we have the dog conditioned to the launcher and not chasing flyers, we can start incorporating being steady as bruce suggested.

Dog is 5 months old, we can start obedience drills and then overlay ecollar on the commands so we have the dog prepared to go hunting. No reason to take the dog hunting if he won't come when called. This is just yard training and has no impact on the dogs hunt. Its a simple rule, we don't ask the dog to obey a command in the field if he does not fully understand it in the yard. Then we have a tool to call the dog when we do shoot a bird for him.

Of course , we could always just take him hunting and be prepared for how unprepared the dog is.


I did introduce him to my launchers in the living room and in the yard before heading out with him. First experience with them, but I think he took to the launchers very quickly. I believe his early encounters with them was more confusion versus being startled. He simply watched the bird fly and remained on point. His first time at a training day, the guys there blamed it on the huge amount of scent on the launchers. He doesn't even care that they are there at this point. I was told to simply ignore his point when he pointed an empty launcher and that he would learn quick to differentiate between an empty one and a full one.

Working on obedience now in the order of the Hickox method...woah-come-heel...although I have been working "come" since day one, I have refrained from doing a lot with it until he gets woah now. When on the cord, his come is perfect, however when off, he is a butthead quite often. Per the Hickox method, I did introduce the e-collar via the "kennel" command, but have yet to do anything else with it. He wears it to get used to it, but it stays off at this point. Will be a little bit on woah yet. Woah boards and a pvc pipe are the next step. He does ok with the check cord in the suitcase setup, however I fear he is starting to think it means "come woah next to me"... Think the pvc pipe will help with that.

Got quite a bit of time until hunting season here, so have no concern about the dog being controllable by then. My only concern about hunting season is being able to find good quality bird contacts. I think I may have to head to another state to give him the wild bird contacts that will help him.
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Re: Pigeons and puppies

Postby Kiger2 » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:04 pm

OK, Good!

I think you would find a week of hunting with lots of birds extremely valuable.
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