Barb, using an e-collar in Wales is unlawful, so I have no choice in that regard, and I enjoy the challenge of remedial training using as much as I can of positive teaching / training / reinforcement.
Darrin has pointed one way forward that looks perfectly feasible; I do something roughly similar in principle but with a UK Spaniel trainers twist.
My first reaction would be to revisit the OB tasks that were obviously faulty and ill trained, first in the yard then in a couple of other locations, with a big concentration on sitting to the whistle as a drill in itself, and sitting to flush with hand thrown dummies and then dead birds. You can spin / throw a dead pheasant in such a way as to make it really flappy and attractive, right within a yard of the dog. I have access to pens full of pheasant and partridges and do these exercises around them, varying the distance to suit so that there is a slowly increasing or decreasing level of temptation. The reward for good performance is a dummy thrown by hand. After a few good responses I move to the rabbit pen (rabbits running about plus loose domestic fowl) where he'll be at heel to start with, and then questing in the brush piles. I repeat the drills using thrown live pigeons, and move up to a shot pigeon as a reinforcer. This is one of the similarities to Darrins approach, the dog offers the right behaviour and gets his reward.
Once we are good to go, it's pudding and proving time. I can train on game shoots five months of the year, and shoot woodpigeon all year round, so I can give or withhold a retrieve on the real thing depending on how we get on. Apart from this approach I've used all sorts of dodges and wheezes (mostly) successfully, but this is a long enough post as it is.
If I think it's needed in any of the stages, I use a slip lead restraint, often held by a helper. "Aversives" in descending order of frequency might be lead pop, harsh voice, threatening body posture. I've used a scruff shake in the past, but not recently.
PS I do own a modern variable power e-collar plus the usual instructional and training DVDs; I could walk over the hill into England and use it lawfully. I choose not to do so.
Last edited by Colonel Blimp; 01-22-2013 at 03:19 PM.
Thank you, very kind, Mine's a pint.
But your response has me thinking, why is a leash correction considered minimal but the ecollar is the other extreme?
I think to myself, would I rather have my neck yanked when I run out of leash, or a nick on low 2? Or even low 3 or 4? How about a tap with the heeling stick?
What if the leash was not on the dog...but on the bird being thrown by a gunner (use a thin rope or fishing line)? If the dog breaks, the gunner reels in the bird and the dog does not get a retrieve (no reward). Re-heel the dog and try it again until they sit steady to the release by the handler. A second bird could be tossed out by the gunner for the reward/retrieve to avoid the dog running back with a bird on a string that can tangle in their legs.
If you're sitting in a garage right next to your dog, or standing in the field right next to your dog with an assistant handling the bird for a steadiness drill, the dog's neck is not going to get yanked. Hopefully, one has enough common sense to hold the dog's collar or at least low down on the leash, knowing it will try to jump to the bird. It's a matter of going through the steps to teach the dog what you want, instead of just correcting it with the collar for breaking on a bird. Not to say all those who use an e collar don't teach the steps, too - just following Renee's analogy - which has a false premise.
Jennifer I'm totally confused by myself as well.
I think the retriever is supposed to be steady before you bring him upland hunting. If he can't sit, then you go back and patch the training.
If I had lots of birds, I would do what some flusher people do to train sit to flush: hide bird, let dog find/flush bird, bird flies away: if dog sits to flush you throw it a bird to retrieve (from your pocket), if it won't sit it doesn't get the reward.
Homing pigeon in launcher. If dog is steady handler bangs and throws shackled bird. If dog moves in on bird pigeon flies away. No shot or reward bird is thrown.
Old school steadying drill from a fc pointer guy. Posted this about 3 times in the last year. Seems some folks feel like its a new drill?
Last edited by Paul "Happy" Gilmore; 01-22-2013 at 04:46 PM.
Last edited by mitty; 01-22-2013 at 04:58 PM. Reason: added flushing
"Your dog learns as much by doing his work right,by your praise and encouragement, as he does by your displeasure and correction." DLWalters