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Thread: Hunting scenario breaking drills?

  1. #1
    Senior Member shawninthesticks's Avatar
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    Default Hunting scenario breaking drills?

    Looking for some simple drills that I can do with my blf. She is rock solid on the line ,never even considered breaking at a ht/ft ,but on our last couple hunts she has broke on me,Once while teal hunting then last night while goose hunting(Last night we had 2 geese that landed behind us so close I could hear them breathing).99% of the time I hunt from a layout blind with her blind at my right shoulder. I'm thinking running my typical hunting set up in the yard with layout blinds and throwing some shackled ducks.

    We hunted together last year and she was very steady sometimes hunting with up to 4 guns in the field.

    Last night I did not let her retrieve the second bird, for breaking on the first (wasn't no stopping her on the first and had one more goose to the side that was in range) safely away from the dog.

    In my minds eye I am thinking that combining the already established standard of line manners of FT/training and adding the scenario for hunting ,I can show her that steadiness is ALL the time not just when training /FT's.

    I've always up held a high standard for steadiness, I kinda think that since she has trained so hard this year that hunting is like fun bumpers to her since they are falling at 30 yds not 300 yds .

    Do you think that will be the best way to get what I need out of it ? or is there any other input on something more productive?
    Shawn White

    HR Big Creek Retrievers Independence Day JH QAA "Indy "

  2. #2
    Senior Member PhilBernardi's Avatar
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    Shawn,

    This is somewhat common: problems transferring the steadiness from HT/FT testing and training to the arena of field layout hunting and her in a "mutt hutt". Best advice is to practice that scenario as much as possible and working on enforcing steadiness (whether it be lack of retrieving for breaks; here-nick-here; or just throwing many birds out with many guns and not letting her go at all - you pick them up and repeat a few times then let Fido have a retrieve as reward for being steady).

    Given that you are now in hunting season, see if your buddies will allow you to correct the dog during a hunt if Fido breaks. Let them know you won't be shooting, but will be handling the dog. If Fido breaks, here-nick-here is the best that you can do IMHO in that scenario. Then don't let Fido get the next bird(s) down; you go pick them up while Fido stays in the "mutt hutt".

    To your drills request....I'd do everything from her being in the mutt hutt. Put the mutt hutt at the line and her in it. Do all your regular drill work from there - just like she does while sitting at the line. She needs to learn there is no difference between her being at the line seated or at the line lying down (or seated) in her mutt hutt. Also, have yourself in your layput blind while at the line. You want to simulate that context and have it be known to her.

    Of course, hunting scenarios are really different than HT/FT: having live birds flying anywhere from 5-40 yards out (or up) is a completely different reality that they have to experience and learn - to be steady and quite until released.
    Last edited by PhilBernardi; 10-12-2012 at 09:39 PM.
    HR Surrey's Space Dog Nala

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  3. #3
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    Are you hunting with the collar on your dog?
    Last edited by Dman; 10-12-2012 at 09:37 PM.
    "Force fetch isn't about retrieving as much as it is conditioning a dog to handle pressure, in a very controlled environment. It's about putting a dog in the position of having to figure out how to turn off pressure by finding the correct response. This translates into numerous areas in training." Sharon Potter.

  4. #4
    Senior Member shawninthesticks's Avatar
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    Phil-yes those guys understand that the dog is more important in the blind then they are,so i can do as needed. Our early goose season is over sunday then several weeks before duck season,thats why I was looking to sharpen her up in the yard,before resuming hunting.

    Most times we hunt in deep water so wading out to recover bird wont work and getting the boat is a pain in the ___.

    Dman -yes I use a collar while hunting and I'm sure after a couple hunts she will be sharp again as she will get a couple reminders if needed.

    I was just looking for some type of drill to or transition to the hunting blind that I could run to refresh her on hunting standards/situations now since I have a couple weeks of down time and then head to the water.

    So far I have been the only gun in the field with her so timely collar corrections are hard when you are shouldering a gun.
    Shawn White

    HR Big Creek Retrievers Independence Day JH QAA "Indy "

  5. #5
    Senior Member PhilBernardi's Avatar
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    I'm thinking running my typical hunting set up in the yard with layout blinds and throwing some shackled ducks.

    Do that for sure. Do you have some HRC or AKC members around you that can help? Or even some of your hunting buddies? Just need additional guns (1-3) to help create a chaotic environment so you can work with her.

    Although not done this year - at least with me - MIHRC members would have one or two days in August specifically dedicated to a layout hunt "cluster drill" scenario. Really nothing more than 2-5 layouts with dogs in hutts and a bunch of launchers (and some blinds planted with a dokken goose or two hidden as well) and gun fire while the handlers (from their blinds) handled their dogs.

    Hell, if you set me up for a January/February snow goose hunt I'll drive down Sunday and work with ya until Wednesday morning - got to be at work Thursday.
    HR Surrey's Space Dog Nala

    The best long range duck load is a well trained retriever - Nash Buckingham

  6. #6
    Member pstrombeck's Avatar
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    Here's a simple drill we used a couple weeks back with a friends dog that started having issues during early goose. Put the e-collared pupil in a dog blind (mutthut) in medium cover about 15 to 20 yards back from two hidden pop boxes. In this case we used dead pigeons. I put the owner on one side of the mutthut while I called like crazy squirmed around like I was watching birds overhead on the other side. On signal I jumped up yelled there goes one and emptied the pump while I popped the birds right in the dogs face. Faced this much stimuli our pupil broke and caught the stern E correction. We ran this set up a couple of times in different locations. For field reinforcement while hunting we will simply take turns shooting on occasion and hand the e-controller to a companion. I have seen labs that broke when they heard the safety click off. Additionally if you and your partner both have dogs pay some attention to the dogs - if once you start calling you see them looking at each other instead of the sky they are thinking about who will get there first and a double break in the making.

  7. #7
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    I hunt a lot and my advice is to hold the same standards in the blind that you do in training. You can do a lot of real world training in the duck blind. Nothing can be simulated in training as well as it can in an actual hunting sutuation.
    Last edited by Dman; 10-12-2012 at 11:14 PM.
    "Force fetch isn't about retrieving as much as it is conditioning a dog to handle pressure, in a very controlled environment. It's about putting a dog in the position of having to figure out how to turn off pressure by finding the correct response. This translates into numerous areas in training." Sharon Potter.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Gunner's Dad's Avatar
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    I'm with pstrom here. All I do is hunt and the excitement can be overwhelming. Practice more with hunting distance birds and shackled birds that way you also teach him to not over run the short under 50 yard marks. Practice for what you want. Youvwant to hunt the dog practice hunting.
    Benjamin Fain

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    In my very limited experience at hunt tests, I've seen way too many handlers take their eyes off their dogs while honoring (and/or remain totally silent).

    It's only natural to want to watch the working dog, but I'd resist the temptation and keep my eyes locked on my dog. For some reason, I find that if I'm looking eyeball to eyeball with my dog, there's less of a chance that she'll break.

    I know this doesn't exactly address your question, but it might help you get that next ribbon.
    Last edited by TN_LAB; 10-13-2012 at 07:19 AM.
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    Senior Member gdgnyc's Avatar
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    My opinion:


    I would put my gun down and let the others do the shooting while I paid attention to my dog. Your HT/FT training cannot duplicate your hunting conditions because you have different stimuli---different people, sights, sounds, and smells. Dogs do not generalize well. Many require reteaching in different situations. If you don't believe this, try heeling your dog in a schoolyard at 3:00 when school lets out. Good chance his heeling may not be what you expect. OK, now on your first couple of hunts you are training. Keep your eyes on the dog and don't miss anything that needs correcting. BTW, there were probably indiscretions on the dog's part that went unnoticed by you in the past season and didn't get corrected.

    Decide how much movement you want to allow when hunting. From what you describe I think it may be a little bit unrealistic to expect absolutely no movement when you are dropping birds behind you as well as in front of you.
    "I love the rod and gun and where they take me."

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