RetrieverTraining.Net - the RTF banner

"Hand Down" Cue Topic

3946 Views 27 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  ksubigbuck
"Hand Down" Cue Topic

The following is just a "Topic for Discussion" not a Q.
With that said, what are your opinions on the "hand down" as a cue on blinds (or marks if used)? Is this more for the handlers benefit or does the dawg truley use it as a cue? After all if the spine is aligned, head straight, the verbal cues are spoken "Bird/Good/Back" etc. Could the "hand down" be more of a distraction than a plus? The opinion I'M forming is that it is NOT needed at all, again what's YOUR opinion?
Ford Flexible Fuel Vehicle Specifications
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
hand down on blinds


interesting post. My reply is more of a question itself. My younger Chesapeake (almost 2 years, in intermediate) has developed a habit recently where, the moment the hand comes down, she sort of looks up to it, instead out into the field. As it is above her eyes, she slightly inclines her head to be able to better look up. She does this, all the time sitting straight, and she runs fairly nice blinds for the stage she is at, but it does worry me.

Interestingly, my older Chessie does not do this and has never done it, so I wonder what has caused it, should I worry about it, and how can I cure it. Maybe I should follow your thinking and try it without the hand altogether and see what happens?

I don't know Peake. It does seem to work. I use it for blinds (send on "Back") and retired guns (send on name) in FT work, and for a dog in HT stuff that is having trouble remembering a bird. The hand means "that's it, don't move" and the dogs learn that over time in the overall mechanics of going as sent starting right at FTP and continuing thru all the way. The deal is consistent communication on the handlers part.

So my sequence would be to generally line up, say either "dead" or "mark" depending on which it is, fine tune line thru push/pull, hand down and send. I DO NOT say "good" or "that's it" or anythingelse, HAND only. That being because I think the spoken word can be a distraction. Especially "Good" where the dog can get really undone with that word because of its use as praise. If I were to use a verbal cue, it wouldn't be that word.

I've seen other folks use the hand in other ways, a lot seem to use it for EVERY send. I can't personally see the reason for that, but whatever works I guess. IMO, not much need for say a go bird where the dog has clearly identified its destination and has "locked on" on its own. In that kind of instance, I don't think the dog needs any help. And to me, that's what the hand is for, to help.

See less See more
Good topic, Peake. I'm very interested in others' takes on this.

I have always believed in having a routine. There are many times I know my dog "knows" where she is going. That being said, my routine at the line needs consistency, and the hand signifies the final step. I used to think it looked cool to have my dog wheel around, look straight out and fire correctly, but this fed into her excitement. What's the rush? The hand seems to be a calming force which slows her down while increasing her focus. It ques three things - slow down, we are working together on this and that's a good line. Her line manners and delivery have improved a great deal since developing this routine.
Think we probably have all seen the 'hand down' misused more often than we would like to admit. My take on it would be, however or whatever a person uses the que for be consistent The pro that I use is always getting after me for not putting my hand down on the first bird retrieved in a marking series, but I have always put my hand down to signify 'secondary selection' so avoid the que on the first bird.
Oh, and my "hand down" is behind the dogs ears, they can 'feel' it's presence they don't need to see it. Don't block the dogs view!!!!
I don't like the hand thing never did just seems unnecesssary to me. I line the dog with the leg and the push pull thing then when they're looking the right direction I use verbal cue, good. As mentioned above good is used as praise and that is WHY I use it. My dogs really lock on hard when they hear a soft spoken goood.
Knowing your dawg and when it needs help is the key here. In marking situations when the dawg indicates he knows the location of the fall, let him have at it. But when your deciding the order of retrieves, or he misses a fall, "the hand" can be a major factor to ensure he understands where you want him to go. It is a misused cue I agree, but as long as the trainer understands that more marking work should continue and work towards removing this cue from normal marking set-ups, then he should use "the hand" when the need arises. The intent of "the hand" is to indicate direction, verbal "goods", "line", etc are all a piece in the blind retrieve, if they work for your team in a marking test, use them!
If ya trained them to "believe the hand" then use it, if ya didn't, don't sweat it. Do what works for you/dawg in the situation at hand, just be consistant.
See less See more
cues are only useful when the dog recognizes that it's a cue. "the hand" gets used for so many reasons that a lot of newcomers do mis-use it. my first dog got the hand cue for blinds and marks she forgot.i'll never be sure if it was necessary cause i always did it. my 2nd and 3rd dogs are doing fine without it,but that's because, as someone else has experienced,#2 started looking at my hand. turned out to be probably the best lining dog i'll ever own. that verbal "goood" locked her in nicely.have to be careful to do your part,though. if you give her the wrong line she is reluctant to make a big correction. she has lined so many that she's shall we say..confident. #3 is getting the same because it worked with #2. so far so good.
in the end ,all any of this is is communicating. you gotta find a way,and that's a two way street. our dogs talk to us all the time,if we both listen to the other,my,how we can shine!
See less See more
Hand down

I put my hand down for the following: to showing the dog the guns, for all blinds, to "no" a dog off a bird, for selection and I will use my hand to get a dog to focus on a particular memory mark if he looks like he is having trouble making up his mind but remove it before I send, and when faced with a mark I know he didn't see or forgot.
This is my plan but dogs and people are different. There are dogs that need that hand to settle their heads and some that don't.
Over the years I have gone thru a variety of handling styles. I first learned with the dog always on the left, you sent with the left arm extened and you stepped out with your left leg as you sent the dog. Then the step was eliminated, the arm came in, we sent using names on marks and back on blinds, used 2 sides and now it's hand or no hand. Take your pick, it is all in what you and your dog are use to.
See less See more
My use of hand ques has also evolved over the years. I agree with the others that consistency and developing a routine is most important. Beyond that, I presently don't use the hand on marks. My approach to blinds is similar to the starter at a track meet (ready, set, go). First, I heel the dog into position. Then I give a "dead bird" verbal which means lock on and don't move your head, then lowering the hand high and in front of the dog means get ready, and lastly send the dog on it's name.

Using "dead bird" as a command rather than a que is discussed by Jim Dobb's on his website. I have found it has merit.

As far as what the dog perceives as ques, I guess dog and I need to have a talk so he can splain to me what is really going on.

Hand cue

I use it on all blinds, and long marks or where the dog needs to drive past something,

The most important use that I have is for the go bird. The hand is part of the chain to release the dog. The dog is less likely to go if he learns to expect the hand before being released.

I've seen people use the hand with real poor technique: putting the hand down as they say the name and even worse, moving it out as the dog goes almost, as if the dog is being launched.
I've found that tempo is important as well. Slapping your hand down their quickly is distracting and often reduces the control your trying to establish.

There was certainly a gob of good stuff being discussed in January of 2003. I must have been hunting, or just lurking :roll: back then, eh?

Pretty sure I also "evolved" much like Tim did, coming early from the oooold school of "The Bible" as authored by James Lamb Free. Back then most folks used the hand as a tool, where the dog was never allowed to go unless the hand was down. I believe it was used more for non-breaking purposes and dealing with honoring, than direction.

Most recently, I also only use the hand on 'long' marks, but always on blinds and for 'no-ing' a nearby poison bird or mark, as is sometimes required in HRC hunt tests as well as hunting.

Even when the dog is spine-aligned on a blind, I use the hand so I know the dog is 'looking' the same way it's spine is aligned. I don't put it in front of it's eyes, but above the head, so it can verify it's looking where it should be sent.

It also does serve as a tempo adjuster, working in combo with all the other adjusting when setting up for a blind. The dog leaves the line, IMFWBDAO, with an attitude of awareness...expecting to hear a whistle, and listening for it, rather than being on it's own as it is when sent for a mark.

See less See more
I use the hand on marks as a release for the go bird, and when I am cueing the dog up for the long bird especially if its a retired bird. My use of a hand on the blind depends on the blind, I am more likely to use it on a long blind that I think I need lots of momentum on.

The most difficult concepts of hand use for me were 1, to remember that I was NOT aiming the dog with it, and 2 to not put my hand down until the dog was locked up on its destination(not putting it down and then bringing it back up when the dog looked off)
I have duck hunting clients and they always misuse it. For some reason most people feel a big burst of motion is needed for it and then it becomes a distraction. I use it while training their dogs still but try to have them use it very little after, due to the fact that they are sending the dogs on a remote send anyway most of the time.

Slow day Peake?
I use it, but one needs to be careful as not to distract a fire breather (you know who I mean) hand down. "dead bird" push pull to get lined up. Onnce the dog is lined up and ready the hand becomes stationary and does notmove, thus not distracting the dog. Send on "back".
You see alot of handlers make a big swinging motion for the dog to follow, this can be a distraction to the dog as it is natural for a dog to follow movement similar to prey drive. "Prey drive" = prey runs to escape dog, dog runs to catch prey. The hand is ok but keep it still and be consistent with it.

Thinking I need to go chase something regards. Dale
I use the hand down as a sequence.

Mind you I had to do, lots and lots and lots of wagon wheels to finally know when my dogs were lined up 100% correctly. I used to become so upset, when a training mate while standing behind, would say no, dog still not aligned straight.

Strangely Yank with his longer nose, than I am used to, I have always been good with.

I was wondering while I type, how many posters from time to time on blinds and marks, at training, " good dog " their dogs (multiple times), pause more than usual, before releasing the dog? I consider myself cruel sometimes, as they tremble more with anticipation, drool and sometimes when they vocalise it is a good opportunity to work on noise.
hands down

I use a hand down in three different manners as a visual cue to help differentiate distance. For anything out to 100 yards, I place my hand just barely in front of her eyes but high enough as to not interfere with her line of sight. From 100 to maybe 200 yards, I move my hand forward about 10" but always well above her line of vision. Out beyond 200 yards my hand goes forward another 10-12". Once positioned, my hand never moves. We don't generally do any retrieves beyond 300 yards and those are kept to a minimum, but she has picked up on the cue.
Re: hands down

larrynogaj said:
But she has picked up on the cue.
Body language. Cues, all wonderful. Knowing our dogs.

Talking about dog body language, how often do you see a dog, after jumping off a truck, and thinking while observing the dog,...........I reckon that owners in trouble before they start.
Re: hands down

Aussie said:
larrynogaj said:
But she has picked up on the cue.
Body language. Cues, all wonderful. Knowing our dogs.

Talking about dog body language, how often do you see a dog, after jumping off a truck, and thinking while observing the dog,...........I reckon that owners in trouble before they start.
Ah yes, body language. From my limited experience, On a par basis I think that body language means more to a dog than a verbal command, though through training we get our dogs to react to our spoken word.
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.