Steadiness training

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Steadiness training

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:29 am

I will do my best to explain what is going on, in hopes that I can get me some written direction and I can put in the work and meet the goal. I would like to get my dog Bodo steady to shoot for hunting season, then revisit and extend that next spring, after hunting season.

Bodo has a good foundation of basic obedience. We can do sit/whoa/down for extended periods of time and without me in sight. I can give these commands from distance and he will comply. So he knows what is expected. I can add distractions in the house or in the yard and its isn't and issue. Throwing balls, bumpers, little children running circles around him playing and he will stay until released. All that is great, I have been doing yard work with pigeons, he is getting better but will break and chase for a few yards occasionally. At our most recent NAVHDA training day I put out birds in release traps for him...mistakes were made. He ran past the first release trap then circled back, he appeared to "make game" and continue to the trap. The training director hit the release. Bodo stopped at flush.(probably for about a 3 count) I don't know where my mind was but I didn't have a hold of the check cord and he broke. I called him back and we moved away from that trap. (not too bad there but it all started to fall apart after this) We stop to discuss the situation. I put Bodo on a sit to calm him down and re-focus. He's jacked up but sits. I release him to continue. He goes out and within 30 seconds he bumps a quail that was not in a release that was from a previous puppy session....I didn't have my hands the check cord, as we were not near the release and I wasn't aware of this bird.....Once again stops at flush but not for long....HE GONE...bird flies into the tree line... Bodo in HOT pursuit. I whistle him back and hit him on the neck collar. He returns...at this point I'm not in a good place...and Bodo is full of steam now...its not good and I know it. Still have a bird in a release so.. we continue. Now I have the check cord in my hands and I don't plan to let go. Once again we try to get settled mostly with I try to calm myself. Bodo is on a sit again but shaking like an addict....The release trap in less than 40 yards away. I free Bodo from sit... he goes head high and into a stalk about 20 yards from the trap. Then locks up....I walk up slowly and stroke him and say whoa in a calm voice. all is good. I give slack to the check cord take my hands off Bodo and nod to the training director... he walks ahead of us... Bodo stays steady. Trap released. Bird flies...Bodo loses his mind... I have ahold of the checkcord and lift up on his belly collar. Bodo is making dog screaming noises that sound like he is dying. while flailing his limbs just trying to break free to chase this bird down. At this point it looks like I have tried to domesticate a wolf from the wild and we are both just trying to survive. All kidding aside there were positives and negatives to take away from it... I just lost part of my pride in the process, lol.

So...back to the training plans we go. First off, I know I made some handling and set-up errors in the field. I can improve there. But also I know that I need to get more time with Bodo on flushing birds.

I have a belly collar on him at a low level during pigeon training in the yard, I stim when he creeps. I hit the neck stim at a moderate level when he breaks completely. I am going to get out to work pigeons more frequently and wait until I am certain he will hold until we go back to the field for birds. Then when we do, I am going to start with 1 bird at a time.

Any one care to weigh in? What other methods can be used?
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby orhunter » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:21 am

I see several mistakes and the first that jumps out is what probably amounts to the dog's age. He's a pup. Next is the artificial setting and pen raised birds. I don't think these training sessions are being conducted in a manner to bring out the best in him. He also needs to go on a two hour run before training so he can burn off some steam. I would also take him completely off bird training for a while so these undesirable outcomes don't become more implanted than they already are. He's sort of being trained to fail. Right now, all he needs is actual hunting and tons of wild birds. You can discourage chasing while hunting and learn to live with what you have for the time being. All you really need at this point is steady to flush. Until you have that, there's no reason to move ahead of what he can actually do correctly. One step at a time.

Other mistakes while training is walking up to Bodo, speaking and touching him. Bodo own the bird, don't become competition. When he's pointing, leave him alone, circle around off to the side and flush the bird without disturbing him. Try to set yourself up properly while he's searching so it's easy to do.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:33 am

Thanks for those insights. Just for further info he is 17 months old (still a pup, but not much longer) I agree on all of the issues that you pointed out. Especially the running before training. I do feel like I set him up to fail this past weekend. But it makes me all that more motivated to get back to working with him consistently in the right manner. I am definitely looking forward to hunting season.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby Densa44 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:43 pm

I'll try to help. Once you realize that most of this is handler error as you know. If you can take a course with Rick Smith and learn how the whoa post works that will help a lot.
If you really want to help the dog (I think that you do) when you go hunting these birds, take a friend and don't take a gun. That way 100% of your attention will be be on the dog. When he locks up move up beside him, (come from an angle where he can see you coming, otherwise he thinks you are going to steal the bird). I talk to my dogs all the time but others don't, suit yourself.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby Dmog » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:49 pm

I didn’t see you mention “Whoa” in the obedience run down unless I missed it. If you haven’t done Whoa training off birds in the yard then it maybe helpful to do that in the yard and flying birds in front of him and finally adding gunfire all in whoa to condition for field steadiness work. I personally let my pups chase until I get past the whoa stage. That’s me and I am not much help with the alternative routes.

After rereading I see I missed whoa. If you have him whoaing in the yard with birds released and shots fired reinforced with the belly collar then back up a step. Can you stop him on a dime with belly collar without check cord? I personally loose the check cord as soon as I have obedience with ecollar. Timing is everything with the belly collar and setting where you need it.
Watch his range though as you progress through this. If you notice range is pulling in closer than you like then he may need another season of wild bird hunting and let him chase.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby Drahthaar1108 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:08 pm

The way I do it is when the dog goes on point and starts creeping flush the bird, never say a word to the dog.
IF you want to stop chasing , there are several ways, one way is with a check cord, when the bird flushes make the dog heal and walk the other way. Forrest
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby ryanr » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:08 pm

Sure some handling mistakes but you recognized them and you'll be better. Relax, hard to do I know (ha I need to take my own advice.) If he's still breaking a bit in the yard he's not quite ready to be proofed in the field. But he's close. I think you're on the right track by going back to pigeon work in the yard. Some good points offered by the folks here.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:30 am

Thanks for the advice guys. Its helpful to be able to just write our what went wrong and air it out for ideas. But as most of you have suggested I am going too fast, the dog wasn't ready...Even in my own mind I had a small voice telling me it was too soon to go to the field. Yard work has to continue to improve. And of course we are gonna have fun while w do it.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby Willie T » Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:44 am

I wrote a lengthy post and then deleted it. There has to be something in it for the dog.
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Re: Steadiness training

Postby Kiger2 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:23 pm

I would try dechasing with live flyers. You will need access to homers. Take him out in a large open field and just start tossing pigeons in from of him and let him chase, no restraint no commands. As willie said, there has to be something in it for the dog. If he learns he cant catch the bird they usuallyquit chasing . That makes it easier to break them when the bird is released. Easier for the dog to comply if he knows there is no reward for breaking.
I said usually because there's a possibility that the dog is getting his reward just from the chase.In which case you'll just continue what your doing.

Most of the dogs quit the chase very quickly with just a few birds.
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