Getting a dog pointing

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

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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby orhunter » Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:54 am

Creeping isn’t always creeping. I see real creeping as something a dog does after there is sufficient scent to produce a point. Relocating is the dog searching for the middle of the scent stream or enough scent to produce a point. There are all sorts of natural conditions that influence what a dog does and when things go wrong, we can’t always blame the dog. Lack of wind, thick cover that holds scent, a cross wind that prevents a dog from locating birds at a reasonable distance. When dog encounters a scent stream in a crosswind, the birds may be five or fifty yards away. Not the dog’s fault if the birds flush.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:05 pm

sorry Slistoe, I'm thinking about creeping until the birds go up. That's what my dog was doing anyway. I don't consider milder forms of creeping to be an infraction per se.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby IDHunter » Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:32 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:
Then, dogs have to learn how different bird species take to pressure - quail sit tight, chukar often flush at 50 yards or more, dizzied chukar and pheasants not at all, huns in between somewhere. IDHunter speaks of hunting chukar a lot, and that may be part of his issue since his dog is young and totally inexperienced. Since chukar tend to flush sooner as the season goes on, he might be better off targeting quail if there's any season left.



We have actually had much better luck so far this year with chukar sitting tight. Even though the dog has been busting them, they have been waiting until he is right on top of them before flushing. Huns have been flushing a bit earlier, but we are definitely getting in close enough on chukar more often than not. Chukar and huns are by far the most prevalent and accessible wild upland birds where I live, which is the other reason we've been targeting them. We have tried quail a few times, but for whatever reason we don't have near the success when it comes to just finding them. We'll try for quail a time or two again this month, but as far as bird encounters go we've had the best luck with chukar and huns for sure. That is one thing I hope to improve by next year is finding a few more spots where we can get on quail consistently.

One thing that I've noticed on the few occasions when we have found quail... my dog doesn't get as birdy on quail scent as he does on chukar, huns, and pheasant. Not sure if maybe this is just a lack of exposure or what, but he definitely gets "going" more when we get into chukar or huns. Thoughts?
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:41 pm

This has been published:

STEADYNESS TRAINING FOR HUNTING WILD BIRDS - by Bob Farris

One of Gene Hill's famous quotes is "whoever said money cannot buy happiness forgot
about puppies"; and that phrase rings the same truth today as when originally coined. With
pointing dog puppies the staunchness they display on point when adults and hunting is usually
the difference in the success one achieves in the field. Some instinctively remain staunch
pointing naturally while others are like coiled up springs ready to attempt a pounce toward their
find at any second. Trained steadiness overcomes these variables we observe from pup to pup
within a litter.
Most training for steadiness on birds follows one of the many techniques
traditionally used by dog trainers of all the various pointing breeds. Basic “whoa”
training is the kingpin necessary for securing a finished pointing dog.
About 10 years ago our kennel began searching for a better way to help clients
that didn’t have years of experience in the field handling their dogs find more success
when hunting wild birds. Their timing when handling their dog was always after the fact
and seldom did they see the same results as the trainer had previously demonstrated in
the training field on planted birds. It became obvious to me that the dogs that charged
pointed birds did so in an attempt to beat the handler to their finds were just as satisfied
having a good chase following the flush as they were when they performed well and a
bird was rewarded them as a retrieve when shot. It only made sense to me to break
these young outlaws from chasing birds in the air and most of the steadiness issues
would naturally resolve themselves. After all, our dogs love chasing everything of
interest to them: birds, rabbits, deer, balls, etc. Hence, we began breaking our clients’
hunting dogs from chasing by flighting homing pigeons in front of them during their
search and using stimulation from the e-collar to halt the chase. Gradual increases in
the intensity and soon the dog learns it’s much safer to stop and stand and watch these
birds fly off than to chase. One might suspect that a dog might lose interest in retrieving
from this method. This will never happen if patience is used in training and the dog is
verbally rewarded with a “good boy” when performing correctly and receiving no
stimulation is their reward for avoiding a chase. Once the youngster refrains from
chasing homers coming from the trainer's hand, it’s time to expect the same with birds
coming off the ground. Here, a homer is launched from a remote launcher when the
dog approaches the area of the planted bird without smelling or knowing of its presence.
It’s critical that the dog is unaware of the bird and launcher as the bird surprisingly
appears as a wild flush.
Again, the dog is stimulated for chasing and rewarded for not chasing by feeling
no stimulation and a verbal "good-boy". This is basically stop-to-flush training and once
the chase has been taken away from the dog as they become reluctant to charge birds
or race their owner to make a flush; they feel safe as long as the bird stays on the
ground and doesn't take flight. They are also much more satisfied to stand their natural
instinctive points much longer and allow the handler the flushing duties. The handler
only has to discourage chasing birds in the air and a silent approach with a soft “whoa”
reminder is all that’s necessary when in the field during Fall hunts on wild birds.

Once the chase is forbidden it is much more likely to observe favorable pointing
manners. Most of us have witnessed our own or a friend's dog ruining a day in the field
by chasing a bird during a hunt and ending up moving every bird in that field as they
continued chasing bird after bird, with none of the owner's screaming commands able to
halt the chasing and eruption of the entire field's birds.
There are only two rules that we insist our clients follow in the field. The first is to
never stimulate their dog when the bird is on the ground. This could create blinking and
discourage good instinctive pointing. The second is to never shout “whoa” when
stimulating the dog during a chase. We want the dog to believe their chasing is what
caused the stimulation; not that the stimulation is coming from the handler for not
obeying a “whoa” command. They must associate the stimulation from their actions.
After our dogs are performing well at stop-to-flush training it’s time to let them
start pointing birds and discourage chasing following the flush. Here is where some
insight as to which birds are going to primarily be hunted helps formulate which
technique is necessary. Planted birds used at hunt clubs, preserves, and in the various
hunt tests can easily be caught and are usually pointed at short distances, requiring
complete steadiness until the flush. Our dogs just sense the ability to get close on
these birds as they can smell and sense the difference here and with a wild bird.
Especially if there is any human scent on the bird or in the planted area. Wild
pheasants also require dogs pointing their birds up close as the birds will often run out
from under the dog requiring relocations. Most dogs learn in time to relocate on
pheasants when the scent diminishes, indicating the pheasant is sneaking off.
Hungarian and chukar partridge in the wild require long distance pointing, as often in
late season hunts the birds become so skittish that 50 to 100 yard points become a
minimum. Here the cover is short and the dogs sense they are visibly exposed to their
quarry and instinctively learn to stand well off their birds to avoid flushing.
Wild birds will teach dogs, in time, how close they can get before they flush but if
one is only going to hunt chukar the training should emphasize extreme caution and
pointing established from long distances. For the chukar or Hun apprentice we launch
our homers from the launcher as soon as we know the dog has acknowledged scent
and don't let them rode in before establishing point. This training is done in short cover
with birds planted downhill from the searching dog. Heat thermals will carry the scent
uphill, giving the dog long distance locations, as is often the case on wild chukar hunts.
Few flushes are required to convince the dog to establish a solid point the instant scent
is located.
For the pheasant hunters (wild or preserve), thicker and taller cover is used for
training and the dog is permitted to stand much closer to their birds as this is necessary
to avoid birds attempting to slip off like a snake in the grass using their famous
disappearing act.
Choosing the correct training format for the different individual dogs is to best
move the dogs through their training program quickly, looking for results that will last
from season to season, and be dependable; regardless of the expertise of the handler.
Understanding the different game birds one chooses to hunt can significantly affect a

dog’s performance if their training has had the focus of that individual bird. There is no
substitute for training on wild birds but with nesting seasons, limited availability of wild
birds, alternate bird sources are to be expected, so liberated birds are often the only
resource available.
Most of our game birds genetically have different survival techniques that they
use to survive various predators, both from the air and the ground. These survival
techniques are also the ones they use to avoid the hunting dog and the hunter in the
Fall. We are blessed here in Idaho to have such a diverse variety of upland birds, and
each of these species seems to have their own unique survival strategy for avoiding
predation. While not including the 5 species of grouse found in our state, it would be
our belief that Hungarian partridge are the most difficult for a dog to become acutely
proficient at establishing point on. They don’t run as much as chukar or quail, so they
don’t leave a highway of scent as to their whereabouts. They are usually laying so flat
to the ground that they cannot be spotted, even in a plowed field. They erupt as a
single covey and seldom is a straggler left behind following their flush. Late in the
season, and especially after the first snow fall, a dog must establish point some 50-100
yards off the covey to find success. When advancing a covey, a big arcing circle is
required by the handler to get into reasonable shooting range.
Chukar are close behind the Huns as far as the difficulty the dogs have when
trying to establish that rock hard productive point . The primary difference is that they
often choose to run rather than flatten out and hide as Huns do. They will especially run
uphill if possible and I’ve never seen a hunter that could outrun a covey uphill. Because
of the steep terrain, choosing to hunt above suspected covey locations gives the dog it's
best performance advantage. The heat thermals moving the bird's scent uphill making
a covey easy to locate at great distances by the experienced dogs. If I were a betting
man, I’d suggest that the average pointed covey of chukar was 100 yards or more when
the dog was at a higher elevation than the birds. Here, just like hunting Hungarians, the
dog’s training needs to ask for pointing at a great distance from the birds to see
optimum success.
Pheasants ask for a much different scenario, as their predatory escape is to run
and hide; or to fly if the predator gets too close. As long as a pheasant is on its feet it
has the advantage. Once they tuck and hide it’s the dog’s duty to pin them in place by
establishing point close enough to discourage any movement by the bird. Here the
training is quite standard and dog relocations are often necessary if the bird is
continually sneaking off. A good pheasant dog will usually be standing within several
yards of its bird when pointing.
Pen raised birds require the most steady pointing dogs. Dogs trained to never
flush a bird on their own is a must. They need to understand “whoa” as it need be
obeyed if coming from a Marine Corps sergeant. Dogs sense the lack of a wild nature
from pen raised birds, and once they have pounced and caught just one of these birds it
can be a lifelong battle to convince them to behave as they were trained.
I’m convinced that wild birds give off a much different detectable aroma raising
the prey drive bar considerably higher for our pointing dogs. The pointing intensity

usually proves this theory when comparing that of a pen raised bird to that of a wild bird.
The distance a dog stands off a bird when pointed also affects intensity. Long range
points on Huns or chukar appear much more relaxed than that of a wild rooster pointed
from several yards in front of the dog's nose. Any way you slice it, however, it's a "red-
letter-day" when your training pays off on your first Fall hunt with that dog fresh out of
training; regardless if wild or pen raised birds are being hunted, as long as a good
productive point is established.
The visions that are permanently placed within our dog's brain creates that
undeniable sound of silence during the hunt that will continually echo affection in a form
of cooperation only to the one that has fed, cared for, hunted along side, and especially
trained as their special friend. There is always a green light telling the world how special
this owner is.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:59 pm

I use Whoa to stop the dog when the birds fly not before. Whoa has nothing to do with pointing and as seen in my video links I let my pups learn to point while I stay out of it and silent. Only once the pup in on point do I move in and flush and I am still silent as I do that.

Whoa is the foundation of training stop to flush and training stop to flush can be very helpful in getting a young dog to point and hold point vs deliberately taking out birds and chasing them because it if FUN to do so. (Hence all the similar posts in this thread talking about STF training).

Most pups will point without prior STF training. All mine have and I have hunted them through their first seasons with zero STF training, shooting a lot of birds off of their points but letting them break when the bird flushes. I steady them after their first hunting season.

Some pups (perhaps IDHunter's Pup) with more prey drive than point will benefit from STF training to take the fun out of flushing and chasing birds. They get so much thrill from chasing that they will not point until that thrill is taken away from them. Hence GH's post. Some very excellent finished dogs have started this way including two that I have hunted over. One being an EP in TX who's owner said he was not sure she was ever going to stop taking out birds and the other being a GSP that I hunted with last year in her first year when she did nothing but run through grouse and this year when she was his top dog for finding and pointing grouse.

I let a young dog move all it wants before the birds fly because it has the nose not me and birds move. A dog must learn to sort it out on its own. Pheasants, Bobwhites in thin cover and warm weather, Huns, Chukars, even Prairie Grouse all run to some degree or another. A dog which does not learn how to move with the birds will never be as good as one that does and experience is what teaches it.

I train Whoa away from birds and then use that command with birds to train steadiness to WSF. After this training if the dog takes out a bird I say Whoa and Stimulate at the same time to stop all movement. The dog does not get to chase. If the dog has any pointing instinct at all they will learn they get nothing from busting a bird because they do not get to chase. Conversely when they point and let me flush, I will shoot it and give them the retrieve.

Jon Hann's approach is the dog is free to move until the handler is in front of the dog trying to flush. Once the dog has established a firm point and the handler is in front and trying to flush the dog must not move until released by the handler to relocate. I train for and follow his approach.

Bruce,

My concern with the approach you suggested is it has no trained command associated with it (No Whoa), but rather is giving the dog negative consequences for chasing the bird. That is how we break dogs from chasing deer. I much prefer to use a trained command which if not heeded has negative consequences for that reason.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:07 pm

IDHunter wrote:
Bruce Schwartz wrote:
Then, dogs have to learn how different bird species take to pressure - quail sit tight, chukar often flush at 50 yards or more, dizzied chukar and pheasants not at all, huns in between somewhere. IDHunter speaks of hunting chukar a lot, and that may be part of his issue since his dog is young and totally inexperienced. Since chukar tend to flush sooner as the season goes on, he might be better off targeting quail if there's any season left.



We have actually had much better luck so far this year with chukar sitting tight. Even though the dog has been busting them, they have been waiting until he is right on top of them before flushing. Huns have been flushing a bit earlier, but we are definitely getting in close enough on chukar more often than not. Chukar and huns are by far the most prevalent and accessible wild upland birds where I live, which is the other reason we've been targeting them. We have tried quail a few times, but for whatever reason we don't have near the success when it comes to just finding them. We'll try for quail a time or two again this month, but as far as bird encounters go we've had the best luck with chukar and huns for sure. That is one thing I hope to improve by next year is finding a few more spots where we can get on quail consistently.

One thing that I've noticed on the few occasions when we have found quail... my dog doesn't get as birdy on quail scent as he does on chukar, huns, and pheasant. Not sure if maybe this is just a lack of exposure or what, but he definitely gets "going" more when we get into chukar or huns. Thoughts?


I believe Chukars put off more scent than other birds. Their body feathers are not nearly as tight to the body as our other native game birds. I think your pup is getting more scent from the Chukars than from quail and that raises it's excitement level on Chukars accordingly.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:24 pm

Saying "whoa" before the birds flush seems like a good idea (or not). Saying it afterwards seems like a waste of time.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:32 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:Saying "whoa" before the birds flush seems like a good idea (or not). Saying it afterwards seems like a waste of time.


Not at all assuming it has been trained.

It stops the dog from chasing and gives proper opportunity for a correction to disobeying a trained command if the dog does not stop. And it provides a basis for the dog to associate the correction with disobeying the command vs just getting shocked from chasing a bird.

Hann's trained a few thousand dogs with the approach and I have trained mine using it after learning it from Hann ...
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby orhunter » Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:41 pm

Scent is the natural signal to stop/point. To use a verbal whoa as a substitute simply teaches a dog to follow commands. We can teach a German Shepherd to stop in the presence of scent but it isn't pointing.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:09 pm

orhunter wrote:Scent is the natural signal to stop/point. To use a verbal whoa as a substitute simply teaches a dog to follow commands. We can teach a German Shepherd to stop in the presence of scent but it isn't pointing.


Yes birds putting out scent are for pointing. Hence why I use controlled situations presenting birds in launchers to give my puppies opportunities to point. In Silence. No Commands. As seen in my videos.

Whoa is for obedience including around flushing, flying and falling shot birds.

I am not talking about using Whoa to command a dog to point. Don't think anyone else is either.

Rather the notion is Whoa is used to stop the dog from Chasing birds when they flush and fly. Which takes away the dog's fun of flushing them and chasing them when they fly (vs pointing them as we wish them to do).

Then hopefully the dog returns to a strategy of using some inherited genetic predisposition to point bird scent. Which then leads to a shot bird and retrieve. The dog is getting the ultimate reward, a bird in its mouth with that pointing strategy.

I have never had to use Whoa to get my pups pointing as seen in my videos. I have always used Whoa to train Steadiness to WSF. In that order.

The order can be reversed as GH posted may be needed with a dog out of balance with too much prey drive vs point. But Whoa is still not being used to teach the dog to point per se. It is being used to stop the dog from chasing, which hopefully makes the dog return to a pointing strategy vs flushing.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby slistoe » Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:25 pm

AverageGuy wrote:
I am not talking about using Whoa to command a dog to point. Don't think anyone else is either.

Although it would seem that Bruce is.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:49 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:GH:
GONEHUNTIN' wrote: When the dog takes a half step toward the bird, at first I'll holler NO! WHOA! and stimulate the dog.


Draht:
Drahthaar1108 wrote: if he bumps the birds I spin him around by the collar take him a few steps back and tell him whoa ... I use a collar very little.




Another question - what about blinking? I know we've all seen it. What causes it?


Pressuring the dog without first teaching what you want. If the dog has been taught to stop with the collar, then he will not associate the correction with birds but with movement. That's why the initial program (training) is so important. If the dog does NOT know why he is being corrected, then he will be cautious or distrustful of birds. The bird should never be the cause of the correction, it should always be for an unrelated infraction. If you have a problem with a dog constantly creeping, take him to a game farm. When you release the dog for the first planted bird, give the dog a strong whoa or sit and nick him with the collar. Then cast him for the bird. That way as he approaches the bird, a correction for motion will be on his mind but he will NOT associate that with the bird. It is a method commonly used by retriever trainers.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby Drahthaar1108 » Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:31 pm

Blinking is caused by the handler, to hard on a dog, to loud of a voice.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:52 pm

slistoe wrote:
AverageGuy wrote:
I am not talking about using Whoa to command a dog to point. Don't think anyone else is either.

Although it would seem that Bruce is.


I think you misrepresented my position. I don't do that, nor have I implied that I do.
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Re: Getting a dog pointing

Postby IDHunter » Sun Jan 03, 2021 9:17 pm

Bruce Schwartz wrote:This has been published:

STEADYNESS TRAINING FOR HUNTING WILD BIRDS - by Bob Farris



I like this a lot. One of the guys who has evaluated my dog recently and offered to help us with some training this spring is actually a trainer that works closely with Bob, and specifically trains PP's from Bob's lines. We are looking forward to learning from him.
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