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View Full Version : Hillman vs Fowl Dawgs: A novice's perspective



Laminarman
07-14-2009, 11:29 PM
I will give my modest, novice point of view on these two DVD's as I own both. I will be training my third lab starting very shortly, a little chocolate out of Ryder named "Chooch" (from the Italian word ciuco for "ass" or slang for donkey/jackass).

Hillman is a day by day diary of him training a young lab named Nick, and while I don't think I'll get the same results as Bill, the DVD is very enlightening. The downside is it's expense and at $130 it is that for sure. Considering what we spend on dogs, food, treats, guns, hunting...etc it is like peeing in the ocean to spend this if you get a few tips, it won't make a big difference in what you invest over the life of your animals and I believe it is well worth it. My take away from this is two things that I think are abundantly important: 1) make training a positive experience and rewarding for the pup. Note of how well Bill reads his dog. Watching him anticipate, never get loud, frustrated or rough is eye opening. He shows that it is the bond between dog and owner that grows through these daily exercises that moves both of them along. 2) I was impressed by the progression of training he designed and how he keeps building one day on top of another. He always returns to the basics in some form each day and builds a base over days as you watch this pup just transform (he makes it look so easy). After watching this three hour DVD and his methods, while he makes it look easy, I think there's more technique here than first greets you. He is an impressive trainer. And while this DVD will not get you a finished dog, it provides some help to a solid start and his methods seem sound.

The Fowl Dawgs I DVD is inexpensive at $20, and I only have the first disc in the series and that compares to most of what Hillman provides in his disc. The first thing that is evident is that while the quality is fine, it is a homegrown DVD. The Hillman is also "homegrown" but the Hillman DVD connects with you in a personal way the Fowl Dawgs just does not. I'm sure Rick Stawski is a fine trainer but unfortunately I don't think this DVD relays that. Again, speaking from inexperience here (or modest experience) I am not judging Rick, only how the DVD came across to me. To his credit he provides a lot of video footage of everything from sit, to stay, to heel, to force fetching and doubles...etc. To my disappointment, his style just doesn't click with me, and that might be certainly so since I watched the Hillman DVD first. Let me say that for most folks the Stawski DVD will provide more "bread and butter" training tips, ideas and footage to help you along than the Hillman, but his style I find harsh, inconsistent and somewhat disconnected from what he says. For example, when he's force fetching a dog, he does what he needs to do and is firm, as he should be, but tells the viewers to "give a lot of praise, be positive" but that just doesn't come out with his style. He says it in a cold, almost scripted way. Hillman doesn't have to tell you to keep the praise coming, you can FEEL it in his style and the sincerity of his love for his pup. Rick Stawski again, while I'm sure a great trainer, was looking rushed in many clips for the cameras sake and almost robotic in his commands. For example, when teaching "sit" I had to fast forward through it as his quick, staccato, repetitive style was not only too forced, but somewhat inconsistent in what he wanted the dog to do. I think throughout the DVD he trains for the camerarather than just training the dog like he would.

In summary: Fowl Dawgs is well worth the $20 and you will get a few tips and it may bring you further than the Hillman DVD as far as drills...etc. Hillman will show you what a trainer is like who understands his animal intimately and can connect with the dog. When all is said and done, at the end of the day I want a relationship with my dog like Hillman has and a bond that you can feel in the footage. That has to count for something (or at least does in my book). While the Hillman DVD lacks depth of material and a "training menu" (being only about 26 days of training), his style makes it the better product and is my choice for the better value even at $130.

Hope this helps someone and thanks to others who have given reviews of products here. I don't know either trainer and have no affiliations with them, this is just my two cents. Let the flaming begin.

Matt McKenzie
07-15-2009, 08:03 AM
I could be wrong, but it is my understanding that the two videos serve different purposes. I thought that the Hillman video was to prepare a pup for basics and the Fowl Dawgs video is the first stage of basics. Keep in mind, I've seen the Stawski video, but not the Hillman.

Burt Fosse
07-15-2009, 08:51 AM
I could be wrong, but it is my understanding that the two videos serve different purposes. I thought that the Hillman video was to prepare a pup for basics and the Fowl Dawgs video is the first stage of basics. Keep in mind, I've seen the Stawski video, but not the Hillman.

This is where I got confused about the comparison made in the original post. Hillman is a pup from 4mos to just over 5mos leading into starting basics. Stawski's FD1 is basics up to force to pile. Not sure how one could compare the content of the two. These are two completely different phases of training. I own both and I think one compliments the other perfectly. I don't see the need to bash anything here, lots to learn and absorb on both discs. This would be like making the same comparison between the content of Sound Beginnings and Lardy material.

Comparing apples and oranges here regards

Laminarman
07-15-2009, 10:33 AM
This is where I got confused about the comparison made in the original post. Hillman is a pup from 4mos to just over 5mos leading into starting basics. Stawski's FD1 is basics up to force to pile. Not sure how one could compare the content of the two. These are two completely different phases of training. I own both and I think one compliments the other perfectly. I don't see the need to bash anything here, lots to learn and absorb on both discs. This would be like making the same comparison between the content of Sound Beginnings and Lardy material.

Comparing apples and oranges here regards

I appreciate the feedback and I suppose your comments are right on the money. When I said let the flaming begin I guess I anticipated that. One thing I should have said for sure is that I wish Hillman had a follow up DVD. Given that, I still prefer the style of Hillman, and I certainly wasn't bashing anyone as you insinuated. I just think Stawski is likely a better trainer than what comes out on the DVD. I could be wrong and your mileage may vary. Thanks for the feedback.

Hoytman
07-15-2009, 04:15 PM
I appreciate the feedback and I suppose your comments are right on the money. When I said let the flaming begin I guess I anticipated that. One thing I should have said for sure is that I wish Hillman had a follow up DVD. Given that, I still prefer the style of Hillman, and I certainly wasn't bashing anyone as you insinuated. I just think Stawski is likely a better trainer than what comes out on the DVD. I could be wrong and your mileage may vary. Thanks for the feedback.
I would agree with Rick being a better trainer than the dvd portrays. How's that a slam on Rick? That has more to do with the producer than Rick. Now, if he did the producing he should've let a "real" producer do it. Much the same could be said of many dvds though. One has to learn to read between the lines and gliches.

FOM
07-15-2009, 04:42 PM
I did this review on Fowl Dawgs II

http://www.retrievertraining.net/forums/showthread.php?t=17307

I watched fowl Dawgs I but never did a review....I enjoyed the video. I also have Hillman's DVD, haven't finished watching it either so no review to offer, what little I have watched I've enjoyed....

One thing about training material, you can never get enough of it!

FOM

Laminarman
07-15-2009, 07:20 PM
I did this review on Fowl Dawgs II

http://www.retrievertraining.net/forums/showthread.php?t=17307

I watched fowl Dawgs I but never did a review....I enjoyed the video. I also have Hillman's DVD, haven't finished watching it either so no review to offer, what little I have watched I've enjoyed....

One thing about training material, you can never get enough of it!

FOM

Hey FOM! Either you or I are a genius as we noticed some similar things with Ricks DVD's. Great review. I did not get FD II but I will likely still pick it up, for the price I'm sure I'll get some tips. And yes, you hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head: he nags at the sit command and it's just not clean and polished like I think it should be. Sounds like the second video has addressed some of the production issues. Great review, thanks.

hooch
07-27-2009, 11:22 AM
I'm training my first retriever, an almost five month chocolate, and find all these discussions really interesting. I just purchased Fowl Dawgs 1 after trying to train with the "Water Dog" series sold at most major outdoor stores. Yes my dog is too young to be getting really serious about training but I wanted to educate myself before getting started. The Water Dog series would seemingly have my dog running advanced field trials by six months old, and left many gaps in an organized training regiment. I figured out pretty quick my dog wasn't going to respond like all the "perfect" dogs in the Water Dog video. So when I bought Rick's video, which was 30 dollars cheeper, -by the way my dog chewed the Water Dog video to pieces- I found it to be really refreshing, organized, and got me actually thinking my dog might actually be a great retriever someday.

So thats my experience with Rick's video from a first time trainer standpoint. Haven't seen Hillman's video and at that price probably wont because I still need to buy an E-collar for down the road. Unless of course someone is willing to let me borrow it?

I'll pay all shipping of course...

Nick