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How important do you find “stick men” to be to your retriever’s training? As I am patiently awaiting the arrival of our lab puppy, I am putting together a plan of action for his training and assembling the training tools that will be necessary. My goal is to have a great waterfowl retriever and family dog that may even accompany me in the occasional (maybe once a year or so) pheasant hunt down the line. I have been consuming a lot of content to include Freddy King, Ethan and Kat, and Tom Dokken – but I hadn’t seen any mention of stick men until I started watching Evan Graham’s Smartworks.

How important are these tools in regards to retriever training and what is the underlying purpose they serve? I’m not sure if I will ever do any tests, but if I do it would certainly be hunt tests.
 

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How important are these tools in regards to retriever training and what is the underlying purpose they serve?
Stick men serve a purpose in training concepts. It does not matter if you are training for hunting, hunt tests or field trials.

You don't need to buy stick men. Cheap plastic fence posts with white bags or Tyvek on them work fine. Lawn chairs in the field with a white shirt are also a good training aid .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Stick men serve a purpose in training concepts.
Thanks for the DIY suggestions. Is the purpose served by the stick men just another type of distraction? I'm probably thinking too much into it, but this really seems to be skipped by in Smartworks and just talks about patterns to use, etc. (unless of course I just missed it, which it certainly possible).
 

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Another DIY stickman service is in teaching walk-out multiple marks when training alone - giving the dog a target to run off of rather than running to.

I also like stickbirds as a prominent rendezvous for the snow goose patrol, but that's not really a training enhancement, just a good, you know, group photo op.
Sky Bird Dog Snow Vertebrate

MG
 

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I use Tyvek painter's suits with a coat hanger on a "garden pole":

Don't forget to add some stick women, too ;-) I teased a judge I was working with once and at the banquet after the test I received one of my Tyvek suits adorned with a black bra as a judging gift. Great contrast.

I had to quit using her, however. I got a complaint for setting her out at one of our AKC/HTs, but one day two women rounding the corner on the gravel road that boarders my field nearly drove off the road when they saw her. (3 flapping white scarecrows already convinced the local farmers I'm completely crazy.)
 

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Actually, "stickmen" are not a distraction. They provide a focus. :geek: In the following video, walking singles are thrown as the
handler (me) moves around throwing singles. My dogs return to a "placeboard" after each mark is retrieved out in the field
and a stickman makes it easier for the dog to "get back" to the running line. If I were running field trials, I would be wearing a
white coat in the field and with an older hunt test retriever, I would be wearing camo (maybe behind cover and sometimes not).

However, white helps a dog to look in a specific direction. Having worked in the field at field trials, I could not help noticing
that some retrievers are well versed in "measuring" where a fall is in relationship to the gunner in white. "Some" never seem
to look at the gunner while others will glance back and forth (visually measuring).

I do not run field trials. However, I do use white stickmen when training a young retriever. Often times the "camo" gunning
stations are quite obvious. Showing where the running line is can be with a white stickman (or white bucket). Eventually, there
is a transition to hidden gunner stations in HRC Finished tests. And of course, distance is less of a factor.

The following link is a young retriever's "Training Alone YouTube" (stickman/bucket line) with handler and dog doing "stand
alone/send back singles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqiyKzUajCk&list=UUDUzEY4TRcagA9HMD_Uwakw&index=6
 

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Actually, "stickmen" are not a distraction. They provide a focus. :geek: In the following video, walking singles are thrown as the
handler (me) moves around throwing singles. My dogs return to a "placeboard" after each mark is retrieved out in the field
and a stickman makes it easier for the dog to "get back" to the running line. If I were running field trials, I would be wearing a
white coat in the field and with an older hunt test retriever, I would be wearing camo (maybe behind cover and sometimes not).

However, white helps a dog to look in a specific direction. Having worked in the field at field trials, I could not help noticing
that some retrievers are well versed in "measuring" where a fall is in relationship to the gunner in white. "Some" never seem
to look at the gunner while others will glance back and forth (visually measuring).

I do not run field trials. However, I do use white stickmen when training a young retriever. Often times the "camo" gunning
stations are quite obvious. Showing where the running line is can be with a white stickman (or white bucket). Eventually, there
is a transition to hidden gunner stations in HRC Finished tests. And of course, distance is less of a factor.

The following link is a young retriever's "Training Alone YouTube" (stickman/bucket line) with handler and dog doing "stand
alone/send back singles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqiyKzUajCk&list=UUDUzEY4TRcagA9HMD_Uwakw&index=6
I agree. Those of us that train alone, Stickmen are invaluable. Especially with young dogs and wingers. It teaches them to look out and locate the white and usually a sound. Once used to them, they walk to the line looking for them. I do always make sure that the wingers throw a good distance away from the stick men so the puppies dont learn to run at the gun. It also helps down the road when you teach dogs to run blinds off either side of the stickmen.
 

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I agree. Those of us that train alone, Stickmen are invaluable. Especially with young dogs and wingers. It teaches them to look out and locate the white and usually a sound. Once used to them, they walk to the line looking for them. I do always make sure that the wingers throw a good distance away from the stick men so the puppies dont learn to run at the gun. It also helps down the road when you teach dogs to run blinds off either side of the stickmen.


All true if you plan to compete but totally unnecessary if training a gun dog. If training alone using remoate launchers a quack from the electronics is all you need to get the dogs attention so he can see the bird go down. Just a matter of visual or audio attention getter. White is simply so the dog will see where the bird is coming from because at FT distances audio may not be heard.
For a gun dog you dont need to train for complex concepts used in competition. But you will need to be able to handle the dog. Doesnt matter if you handle on a mark when hunting because uou are not being judged. A well trained gun dog is awesome but a lot can also be learned by experience. Which is also true of competition dogs which is why FT dogs are usually just coming into their prime around 5 or 6 years old.
 

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There are reasons for stickmen.
If you want your dog to be comfortable/confident marking a bird at 300 yd (that 'sailer'), then stick men will come in very handy ---
BUT, I generally agree with Steve on this, not absolutely necessary and possibly counterproductive for a hunting dog, if they learn to depend on them...... I use stickmen about half the time when I train, when I am working on concepts or running FT distance marks. The rest of the time, I hide my wingers in/behind brush or grass, or a blind, if needed, but I prefer natural cover if at all possible. The get the shot/sound for location purposes. Unless I am getting ready to run HRC, which does not use attn getting sounds in the field, then I go silent throws from hidden stations for the week before the test.
 

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not absolutely necessary and possibly counterproductive for a hunting dog, if they learn to depend on them
Opinions on what is "absolutely necessary" for a hunting dog vary a great deal.
Stick men used in training retrievers for field trials, hunt tests or hunting are not counterproductive but training methods frequently are.
A dog becoming dependent on stick men would be one possible result of poor training.
 

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Opinions on what is "absolutely necessary" for a hunting dog vary a great deal.
Stick men used in training retrievers for field trials, hunt tests or hunting are not counterproductive but training methods frequently are.
A dog becoming dependent on stick men would be one possible result of poor training.
DP....I think we could name you the spindoctor of rtf. 😂 you are really great at taking someone's words and reorganizing them for a different meaning....

I mean, I could recommend giving beer to the gunners at a training session and you would find a way to make it seem like they were all alcoholics. LOL!!!!!
 

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I won't get into the "absolutely necessary" discussion, but those who say they are counterproductive or not necessary at all for dogs unless planning to run field trials are really missing the boat. Stickmen can, for a good trainer, serve many purposes. 1. When a young dog is learning new marking concepts (which should be done with a gun dog, too), they can be very valuable. Imagine throwing a mark where a dog must cross a road or ditch. Initially, put the stick man on the other side of the ditch and the young dog that knows that throws come from stickmen will benefit from the stickman being where the throw will be. In this case, the stickman will help draw the young pup across the barrier. As the dog gets older, though, a great way to proof whether or not the dog has learned to mark the bird is to put the stickman on the near side of the ditch and throw over it to see if the dog is marking the bird or the stickman. 2. As dogs get better at understanding that stickmen throw birds, but birds are what matters, throwing a long bird that requires a dog to run very near to a short stickman that threw nothing teaches the dog to focus on the bird fall, not the stickman. They learn they must ignore the close white shirt and focus on the actual bird. There are many more ways to use stickmen, but these are a couple of the more nuanced ways that experienced trainers use them - both for gun dogs and competition dogs. I'd consider them a valuable tool for training any retriever!
 

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I use stickmen
1) To ensure visibility of the long gun
2) To make the flyer gun even more attractive
3) To teach the dog to be comfortable running tight to gun stations
 

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This is what the OP wants
“My goal is to have a great waterfowl retriever and family dog that may even accompany me in the occasional (maybe once a year or so) pheasant hunt down the line.“

If I was training a dog to be a meat dog only I wouldn’t waste time on “marking concepts”. I would teach it to be steady, how to handle, and how to use its nose. After the fundamentals they learn everything else they need to know from on job training. And no, that doesn’t suggest marking skills are irrelevant, most of the very best dogs I have hunted behind had FC and/or AFC in front of their registered name but great marking is not what made them great hunting dogs.
 

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DP....I think we could name you the spindoctor of rtf. 😂 you are really great at taking someone's words and reorganizing them for a different meaning....
Spinning your words or offending you was not my intent.
IMO stickmen are simply a training tool. Training tools cannot be counterproductive unless combined with poor training.
I also have no problem with the gunner's drinking beer.
 
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