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Thread: Teaching a dog to use its nose?

  1. #21

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    I have taught my labs to trail on command in about three days each. I followed a technique which I read about 15 years ago. I take a piece of fat from a steak and drag it across my uneven yard; about 1/2 of the way across I make a 30 to 40 degree turn.
    I then hide their food dish (supper included) behind some cover. I always go downwind. I then go get the dog, who has not seen this, and bring it on lead to where the trail starts. I let it lick my fingers as I lower them to the start of the trail and say 'find it' as I release her. Grandmother, daughter and niece each was able to trail on command after three nights of this. The grandmother would trail at absolute full speed on a wounded pheasant. Here are two examples of the success of the training. I have handled her to 300 yards, blown a sit whistle, and then yelled 'find it' and she would start at that place to trail a bird which she didn't see go down. I have seen her follow a running pheasant from that spot to the far end of a huge field and return with the bird. I was carrying my Tri-tronics collar when I walked in to a Lake about 250 yards through the woods. Because I was also carrying bumpers, I accidently dropped the collar on the way in, and as I sometimes have done, I automatically trained without it. I got back to my truck and finally realized that I had dropped the collar. I took her to where I had started into the woods and told her to 'find it'. She trailed me on the twisting route through the brush on the way toward the lake, and then when I saw her nose go down, I walked over and picked up the collar. This training has had no negative effect on running amateurs and opens, where she got two second places in each.

  2. #22
    Senior Member JustinS's Avatar
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    I third the go to a hunting refuge and buy some birds and let the dog hunt em' up. Once a dog gets real experience on live birds they learn alot. I have gotten many dogs around 6 to 12 months of age that didnt know how to use there nose and in under 3 weeks the dogs would be tracking any bird that crossed their path. nothing in my opinion can really replace a live bird - a game bird even more so. pigeons work well but quail, chukar, pheasant, and mallards get a dogs nose on high alert and well worth the money when you consider how much time and energy each dog requires to achieve full potential before being hunted on wild game.
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  3. #23
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    I teach my pups "dead bird" at a very early age. I toss a bumper in cover(most young pups won't find it on their own). The whole time they are looking I'm telling them dead bird, dead bird ,dead bird. When they find it they get lots and lots of praise. By the time they are 5 or 6 month old I can take them to a place where a bumper is in cover and just say dead bird and they look like a Hoover vacumme.

  4. #24
    Senior Member KwickLabs's Avatar
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    Did you ever think about why he won't search freely? I had a friend awhile back that asked me for some advice on his young MH bitch. He wanted to start upland hunting and she just would not leave his side.....she had zero "free search" mode. Retriever training is all about control and upland hunting is driven be being free. The two "venues" are contrary. Which basically means the dog would not upland hunt because there was no balance (free vs. control) when young. Being free is not a given if it is never....ever permitted.

    Went to a dog training seminar years ago and in the first phase everyone demonstrated their dog's OB. One young dog was absolutely flawless. I commented it was almost too pefect. Sure enough when it came time to retrieve a short mark the dog would not leave his owner's side. OB was too good......zero freedom. A dog that will not search the uplands is out of balance......too much control.

    So now you have an older Lab that has no idea of how to be "free". If you try to use control (as in commands to search) there is no foundation....just inhibtion. The suggestion of "lots of birds" will only work if the dog is allowed to explore on his own (unfettered by commands). It will take some time for those free instincts to surface. At all costs (while the break through is attempted) avoid trying to control it (as much as possible).
    Last edited by KwickLabs; 12-10-2013 at 10:03 AM.
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  5. #25
    Senior Member Brettttka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KwickLabs View Post
    Did you ever think about why he won't search freely? I had a friend awhile back that asked me for some advice on his young MH bitch. He wanted to start upland hunting and she just would not leave his side.....she had zero "free search" mode. Retriever training is all about control and upland hunting is driven be being free. The two "venues" are contrary. Which basically means the dog would not upland hunt because there was no balance (free vs. control) when young. Being free is not a given if it is never....ever permitted.

    Went to a dog training seminar years ago and in the first phase everyone demonstrated their dog's OB. One young dog was absolutely flawless. I commented it was almost too pefect. Sure enough when it came time to retrieve a short mark the dog would not leave his owner's side. OB was too good......zero freedom. A dog that will not search the uplands is out of balance......too much control.

    So now you have an older Lab that has no idea of how to be "free". If you try to use control (as in commands to search) there is no foundation....just inhibtion. The suggestion of "lots of birds" will only work if the dog is allowed to explore on his own (unfettered by commands). It will take some time for those free instincts to surface. At all costs (while the break through is attempted) avoid trying to control it (as much as possible).
    My dog will search out there and look for the birds but I seems he uses his eyes not his nose. He will wander and look but will almost have to walk him up to the bird for him to notice it. I have no plans on doing any upland hunting with him just would like him to be better on finding birds that fall in thick cover.
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  6. #26
    Senior Member duxbac's Avatar
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    Dirt clod drill.... Search this site..about 18 months ago Tollerlover posted Dennis Voigts version using pigeons. It teaches the dog to thoroughly hunt up an area and is an invaluable tool for teaching the hunting or the field trial dog.
    Last edited by duxbac; 12-10-2013 at 10:18 AM.
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  7. #27
    Senior Member KwickLabs's Avatar
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    "He will wander and look but will almost have to walk him up to the bird for him to notice it."

    Then that's where you will start. However, make sure the "find" is a clipped, wing pigeon or shackled, live duck. In addition, you might seriously think about going to an upland hunt club for a few "hunts". Many years ago, Kooly at nine months old (in my signature) became a different dog during in a "one day", three bird package.
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  8. #28
    Senior Member HNTFSH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brettttka View Post
    I have no plans on doing any upland hunting with him just would like him to be better on finding birds that fall in thick cover.
    If upland hunting (or not) is the reason you think some posted putting your dog on a lot of upland type birds - you missed the point.
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  9. #29
    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KwickLabs View Post
    Did you ever think about why he won't search freely? I had a friend awhile back that asked me for some advice on his young MH bitch. He wanted to start upland hunting and she just would not leave his side.....she had zero "free search" mode. Retriever training is all about control and upland hunting is driven be being free. The two "venues" are contrary. Which basically means the dog would not upland hunt because there was no balance (free vs. control) when young. Being free is not a given if it is never....ever permitted.

    Went to a dog training seminar years ago and in the first phase everyone demonstrated their dog's OB. One young dog was absolutely flawless. I commented it was almost too pefect. Sure enough when it came time to retrieve a short mark the dog would not leave his owner's side. OB was too good......zero freedom. A dog that will not search the uplands is out of balance......too much control.

    So now you have an older Lab that has no idea of how to be "free". If you try to use control (as in commands to search) there is no foundation....just inhibtion. The suggestion of "lots of birds" will only work if the dog is allowed to explore on his own (unfettered by commands). It will take some time for those free instincts to surface. At all costs (while the break through is attempted) avoid trying to control it (as much as possible).
    I have witnessed this in some very young and in some cases very driven detection dogs. Doesn't have to be corrective obedience either. I have seen one's drive get in the way of free searching because he was so focused on the fact that the handler possessed the reward.

    You can definitely overdo obedience with certain dogs.

    I argued for years that wasn't the case but I have seen it enough times now to believe it.
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  10. #30
    Senior Member Brettttka's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for all the responses. I will try and use some different methods you have posted. He is a very birdy dog and is doing great for his first season just little things that we need to work on to make him better. Have some people mention planting some birds in the cover during slow time in the blind and having him learn that way and with a foot of snow on the ground right now and open water with ice eaters will try this next time in the blind and will use other drills around the house. He wants to find them just wants to see them instead of smelling them.
    Lone Oak's Marley Man.. (My first)

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