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If your Toller is already doing advanced Agility then he should already be paying close attention to you and your commands. And body language. My guys have always picked up on body language and what I want. I would recommend that you take it to the next step and enroll in a Raly class. Obedience, obedience and then some more obedience. First steps to a hunting dog IMO waterfowl or upland is obedience. Sounds like you already know that.

Teaching too far has been explained pretty well already. But your dog should be reading you well at 2. For recall I use Here, to steady it is a process and takes time and work. High value rewards are good for initial training but verbal "good boy" should also be a reward and eventually the reward. I follow the Bill Hilmann methodology (for the most part) and for my current pup I may also continue on and use his Fetch training instead of traditional FF. Still undecided on that one yet but is more than likely.

Took me less than 5 minutes to teach my young guy to sit on the first day home. But being a Toller he will soon have different ideas their favorite radio station is WIFM, what's in it for me. And like to do things their own way. Repetition is often boring to them and they like to put their own spin on things. Don't let him do that when it comes to recall. But don't take the fun out of it either, it is a fine line more times than not. Let him know that you are serious about recall and it is serious business.

Impulse control will help, a lot. For everything from concentration of the task at hand to trash chasing.

My oldest son moved to Boston but I am clueless about trainers back East. 2 years ago the NSDTR was allowed to participate in AKC spaniel hunt test, which is a flushing and retrieving test. There are more than likely clubs in your area that you could connect up with, although will warn you the springer folks for the most part are not keen on Tollers and other breeds playing in what they consider "their" domain.

You need to decide what type of hunting and therefore training you plan on doing. I hunt pheasant in SD with some other retired Navy guys we even lower the standards and let 4 retired AF pilots cycle through :) Took us more than a decade to get access to some of the private land we hunt including one gentleman that owns 12 sections of land. A section of land is one mile by one mile. They are wild phesants and a few days after opener if you slam the truck door they will run into the next section of land.

You show up blowing a whistle for anything other than a lost dog you will not be invited back. If your dog sits on flush instead of heading after the bird you will catch hell. Long debate for some people over that but we hunt tall CRP and sitting often doesn't allow multiple or even single marks while sitting. And everyone of us has enough discipline to not shoot low flying birds (worm burners). We would rather have a crip caught in minutes instead of spending an hour looking for it. If someone calls hen your dog better stop and start hunting again. If no one calls hen you better call no bird instead and your dog should immediately stop and start hunting again. Most dogs learn pretty quickly their first year and few times out they and you are usually off to the side. Then there is the pointy dog guys although we often hunt mixed without issue. Don't care how many titles or much training the dog has the first time a couple hundred phez get up they come unglued.

On the other hand if your only going to shoot pen or state released birds back East you can use whistles and sit until released with a whistle. Or whatever else floats your boat. Totally up to you and what it is that you want. And if you want to run hunt tests or not.
 

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Good to see Cold Iron Mike - and of course Paul Young - chiming in on what can be the coolest flushing dog of all. Twenty-five years ago, I got a toller to be a spaniel, to complement my Sussex and Boykin, and to outshine both of 'em by a mile in the quartering/questing game. Tollers are so d*mned acrobatic - if so trained - so acrobatic on their feet, they have a tendency to toll in the attention of other handlers, and get a lot of eyes riveted to them as they pattern to and fro questing for birds or bunnies. They are just dynamic afield and I only wish we had the opportunities out East that Cold Iron Mike takes advantage in the Midwest and Dakotas, especially on pah'tridges. Closest I ever came to that kind of exhilaration came when my old toller Violet snatched a turkey vulture out of midair - but I digress. I'm not going to attempt to tell you how to train a flushing dog because you need to see and experience it up close rather than in the proximity of a keyboard. If you are near Boston, you would want to catch up with these folks https://patriotsportingspanielclub.com/ - they'll put you right and - I should say for Cold Iron's benefit - they'll also be right accepting of a toller if you commit to bringing your pup along as a working gundog. Most of my old girl's work her last 10-11 years was on more feathery game, but the rack-and-pinion steering skills she showed off for upland work (and NAHRA senior tests) was a big point of pride on the breed's natural ability. Good luck.

MG
 

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Look up Pat Perry in Royalston Massachusetts. He will get you started right. Some private sessions with him will get you on the right path. He was very helpful to my wife, Susan, with her first Toller trained for field work. Good luck!
 

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MG great to see you once again! Hope all is well with you. Like a moth drawn to a flame I keep going back to a Toller. Maybe I am the one with the impulse control issues LOL.

@camhabib you can take what crackerd and paul young said to the bank and I would highly recommend following up with their suggestions.

As to the Garmin Alpha being worth it or not that is up to you. But would not base that value on the amount of time that you would use it. All it takes is for your dog to take off one time chasing a deer, etc. and get hit by a vehicle and it is too late to wish that you had one prior. I resisted them for years but once I finally got one will no longer put a dog on the ground without one.

I seldom use the buttons on the handheld and it is normally strapped down in a leather holster on my WingWorks vest. The Garmin Fenix and Instinct watches have widgets that allow you to see where your dog(s) are and in heavy cover is extremely valuable at least in my experience.



For MG, pretty sure I shot the last ruff grouse in Western NC more than 20 years or seems like it. One reason for moving to Mn. but the cold and snow here get old as I get older. However a gray phase, red phase and spruce help make it more bearable.



I don't intentionally target spruce grouse but every once in awhile they flush just like a ruff. I would rather hunt grouse over any other bird.
 

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Best advce!

Quote from Drunk,,, " I also walk in a zig-zag pattern and give subtle hand signals directing the dog. With repetition he will realize he can run back and forth all he wants within range. "

First though, teach a good solid promt "Sit" The most versatile, useful, command there is..
 
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Discussion Starter #26
Really appreciate all the continued help, it’s been super valuable.

Many of these commands he knows, and knows well, but just chooses to ignore them when he feels like it. I’m sure some of this is my fault as I often “poison” the cues by not rewarding every time he does it, but some of it is just because he’s a stubborn brat. I’m assuming repetition is the solution for this, but is there anything else I can add in?
 

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Really appreciate all the continued help, it’s been super valuable.

Many of these commands he knows, and knows well, but just chooses to ignore them when he feels like it. I’m sure some of this is my fault as I often “poison” the cues by not rewarding every time he does it, but some of it is just because he’s a stubborn brat. I’m assuming repetition is the solution for this, but is there anything else I can add in?
An E collar correction would be helpful when he is being a stubborn brat.
You would, of course have, to collar condition the dog first.
 

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Today's results
IMG_4274.JPG
 
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I often “poison” the cues by not rewarding every time he does it,
WAIT!!! If I recall my operant conditioning, you only start rewarding 100% of the time, and transition to every other time, every third time, and ultimately a random variable schedule. You are NOT poisoning the reward by failing to reward 100% of the time. You need to change to a random variable reward schedule or the conditioning gets you exactly what you have - a stubborn brat probably only because he is inadequately conditioned. Repetition is everything, yes, and with straight retrieving the dog is rewarded every retrieve, but for a recall and most other behaviors, a 100% reward schedule is a recipe for a poorly conditioned dog and an unreliable retrieve or sit. I'm no expert on conditioning, much less the purported "positive" school of training, but you might want to check back with "Don't Shoot the Dog" or one of the other classics and review instilling a conditioned response. I will bet you a quart of Ken's syrup that right there is one of your problems with a reliable recall.

DP - is that a Model 12 featherweight?
 

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DP - is that a Model 12 featherweight?
Standard field grade Model 12, 12 gauge. Had not taken it out for a long time. Beautiful guns, I have a 16 and a 20 as well.
 

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Many of these commands he knows, and knows well, but just chooses to ignore them when he feels like it. I’m sure some of this is my fault as I often “poison” the cues by not rewarding every time he does it, but some of it is just because he’s a stubborn brat. I’m assuming repetition is the solution for this, but is there anything else I can add in?
There was a time when you got a Toller pup most breeders included a book with a title along the lines of "Being Leader of the Pack". Tollers think a lot more like a Chessie than a lab. If there is any power vacuum at all they will fill it. My guess from what you said by ignoring commands and being a stubborn brat is that he thinks he is in charge, not you. And that needs to change or you are in for a rough ride.

Doesn't mean lighting him up with an ecollar although I am a big fan of them, it is much deeper and more involved than that. He needs to know his place and that you are his leader at all times. The reason I ended up with my 6 year old's sister this summer as a foster parent training her is because the previous owners (young couple) didn't understand that. It was their first dog and then 3 kids came along and eventually all hell broke loose. She turned into a sweetheart once she knew no meant no and all commands were expected to be obeyed. Her forever home owner knows what she is doing and will continue with that, it isn't her first Toller.

I have never used treats for behavior shaping on a 2 year old long before then verbal reward is enough. Even my pup at 9 weeks doesn't get treats every time on commands that he already knows. He does get praise and a pat on the head every time when performed to my expectations. For now.
 

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The title of the thread uses a word "BASIC".. In some hunting dog training programs there is a chapter,or group of steps called "Basics"..
They are easily reviewed.
During the teaching, the dogs learnes expectation. They learn your level or standard of enforcement. There comes a time, when you may feel the dog has "got it" , or he is "finished" with those steps..

But,, You need to proof..

My comments made earlier about lowly Pen raised poulty was misunderstood. My comments about learning about "BIRDS", was to stress the importances for the dog to learn about them, they have to be exposed to them a LOT.. "Planted" birds, and "canned" or "programed Hunts" are part of the preperation to a real wild bird hunt.. A LOT of time spent doing this, and analyising your progress, will pay big dividends when you finally start your first steps in a wild bird situation.. It a major part of Basic training.. The dog is placed in a staged hunt situation, when its easier to control things, and the dog is proofed its progress in the Yard training as it applies to a staged field setup..

So, your "sit" ,"quarter". maybe "'Whoa",and your standards when it comes to the dogs retrieving skills,are put to the test.
BEFORE, an actual hunt,,where somebody (other hunters) may not "Ask you Back".

Remember, YOU have the decision of "When" to release your dog.. IF,, the dog is Steady to wait for that "Release" ,wether it be quickly, (before the bird hits the ground) or, he has to wait a bit, wont matter, IF, the dog has been taught the standard.. The standard of Steady.. GO,, when I tell you!

Sometimes, when hunting with others, you have to prepare YOUR dog for the dog the "Other Guy" has, who thinks, all shot birds are HIS! :) That dog thinks it gets all birds shot!
Dogs need taught to Honor asshats too! :)

Planted Poultry has an important place in BASIC preparation, BEFOR actual hunts..

As far as being "Asked Back".. (I think the actual comment was removed in the thread)

There is a LOT to be said for a day in the field with just you and your dog, and a field full of "YOUR WILD birds.. The day spent hunting with only your dog, that requires no whistle to "Sit" on flush, "quarters" the field in front of you hunting for birds within range.. Will HANDEL to a birdit may have not seen fall,,,, and,,, you have confidence the dogs obedience is solid, for those times you may have to call back, or have the dog "sit".. (Roads, barbwire fences, flushed hens) Those days are priceless.. IMHO, I would rather have all days like that, than worrying about wether I will be "ASKED BACK" JMHO.

Its like anything else.. You can pass hunt test, by just entering hunt tests,,and using those enters for training.,, Eventually, you and the dog will learn, and you will probably pass.. BUT,, there is a way to prepare the dog FIRST..
A steady diet of proofing BASIC training commands , An evironment of live "Planted lowly PEN RAISED birds, is a necessary step BEFORE, and actual wild bird hunt.. Againnn JMHO..
 

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PS!
HUGE Model 12 fan! Beautiful gun and picture..
 

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Standard field grade Model 12, 12 gauge. Had not taken it out for a long time. Beautiful guns, I have a 16 and a 20 as well.
My featherweight had the same grooved foreend is why I thought featherweight. My other one must not have been a field grade because the forend was plain and ungrooved. Ended up trading both off at a gunshow, which of course now I regret. I'm no student of the variations, but they remain extremely nice, well-made shotguns. 16 ga is my goto upland shotgun.
 

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I'm no student of the variations, but they remain extremely nice, well-made shotguns. 16 ga is my goto upland shotgun.
Best pump gun ever made IMO and the 16 is a great upland gun.
 

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Best pump gun ever made IMO and the 16 is a great upland gun.
We are wandering off topic (typical RTF) but that over and under on my tailgate is a 16 ga FAIR (Rizzini) that i love. Bought it used and killed a pheasant the first time I pulled the trigger. Really like it.

But back to topic - regardless of the reward (food, verbal, tone, whatever) the random variable schedule is the gold standard of reinforcement. Look at slot machines - that's the same principle. Cold Iron talks about not using treats on a 2-year old. I pretty much do the same - transition for puppy cookie treats to verbal and then to the collar, but the specific reward doesn't matter (well, it does and each dog has a different value system for types or rewards), the schedule of reinforcement matters.

Until we get into collar training. Marilyn Fender used to have some pretty wonderful discussions here about how complicated the technical details of collar training is. She was truly an expert with the theoretical aspects of behavioral science and a Lardy client with the 1996 NFC.
 

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Spaniel guys use "hup" as a change direction/come in to let the dogs know where they (the handler) are, so the dog knows how far away is ok. Over time, and after repeated come ins, ("here" or whistle toots), it becomes somewhat melodic. Some Pointer handlers kinda yodel or whistle a tune to accomplish the same thing.

If you walk in a zig zag, the dog will learn the windshield wiper pattern from that.
84973


A word of warning: Be cautious when hunting a smaller dog. A friend of mine's red cocker was killed by the landowner while hunting cause he thought it was a fox.
(And while I'm at it...)
We have strict rules in our group:
No shooting at anything not above the horizon.
No shooting rabbits.
No shooting down into the tailwater pits
Around and when walking back to the truck, guns are unloaded, no closed actions, breakopen guns are open, no carrying autoloaders on your shoulder, and you'd better as hell not give us any "..but the safety is on..." crap.
 

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A word of warning: Be cautious when hunting a smaller dog. A friend of mine's red cocker was killed by the landowner while hunting cause he thought it was a fox.
Which is why I will not bird hunt during deer season. Especially with a dog that was breed to look like a red fox for Tolling.

As long as the thread went off the rails about hunting guns...

Never cared for the Winchester M12. Safety and slide release are in the wrong locations to begin with. Then again growing up in the Twin Tiers of NY and Pa. near Ithaca in the 60's and 70's if you didn't shoot a 37 you were considered some sort of communist. Although 870's were around here and there.

The Upper Sandusky Ithaca's are fine too, when pheasant hunting I use a 12 ga. Ultralight made in Ohio with 1 1/4 oz. of #5 at ~1200 fps. Works for me. Must be the only section of land in SD that didn't have a fence post to sit it on.



But ruff prefers to be shot with purple shells I only use a 16 ga. for grouse. Some claim the King Ferry guns were not as well made as the Ithaca made guns. Never had a problem with my KF English Deluxe in 16 ga.



But prefer the pre 55 made guns. IMO the 26" IC 37 pre 55 is the best of the bunch but what I grew up with.



For classic pump gun events I use a 16 ga. 37RVD that I had Briley install thinwalls



The new A5 Sweet 16 works well for me also. Once I had Briley cut the bbl. down to 23" and Mark Larson round over that steep radius grip the way Browning should have. It is now as long, or rather short, as my 26" Ithaca 37's



I also have a FAIR made NEA O\U 16 ga.



With 28" bbl. for hunting and 30" for clays



Have been very pleased with it and put 10's of thousands of rounds through it without a hiccup. So when FAIR came out with the 16 ga. ISIDE SxS got one also

 

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I’m jealous! 2 barrels for the 16 ga FAIR. I do love that gun. As for the Ithaca? Only shot one once on flyers at a HT. Judge sent me out with his gun after the main gunners had some misses. Liked it, always wanted one, but just never shot one much.
 
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