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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello to all,

Preparing to get my 2nd retriever puppy. My first dog, that I trained myself, was rarely steady while hunting due to my lack of standards at the time & lack of knowledge to correct it. I would always resort to leash & collar to keep him from breaking. I fully intend on enforcing the high standards of steadiness from day one & not making the same mistakes with this dog that I did with my last. So, my question is what are some of the methods you use while hunting to control the dog & prevent them from breaking. Also, what do you do in the event that the dog does break to keep it from becoming a habit. I understand that steadiness comes from training long before the hunt begins. I'm specifically wondering what you do in hunting situations with a dog you think could break. The dog will be puppy trained by me with the Hillman DvD, through basics, transition & finished in a Lardy style program with a pro & myself. Thanks for your replies, James.
 

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If you follow the Hillman program your pup will be steady. My last pup I used Hillman's program and now he is 9 months old when he see's a gunner in the field he sits and just looks out. It is almost funny. He looks like he is thinking "I see the gunner and he will not throw unless I am sitting so I am just going to sit!"
 

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There is a huge difference between throwing bumpers and dead ducks then hunting live waterfowl. The steadiest trained dog will have all they want to not break in a real hunting situation. It will have to be delt with more then likely.

I had a similar situation as the OP. Just didn't take the time to train the dog to not break on the shot while in a real hunting situation. The dog was trained on bumpers to the shot and so on. My bad. The next dog I too swore I wouldn't have a breaking dog on a hunt. Dog was way steady while training. After a few real duck hunts especially with another hunters dog along for the hunt. Away she went. So, I got a 25' check cord and gave the transmitter to my buddy. As the ducks worked and finished into the decoys I shot and away she went. Wam, to the end of the check cord she went. My buddy however didn't get to the controler so no electrical pressure was added. Next ducks came and in and I shot. About the same time the dog got to the end of the check cord he hit her with the electricity and wam the end of the cord came. It couldn't have been more perfect. That was the end of the that. No more breaks the rest of the year. Were talking ducks dieing only feet from her several times after that. Dogs may need a tune up again every year, but they will remember once they have been trained in the field. On both breaks no was said also. It may sound crude but it worked pretty slick.
 

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As my mentor is always telling me, when hunting or trialing/testing you will likely only get a percentage of your training standard. Thus, you better keep your training standard pretty doggone high.
 

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When training a pup I use a short lead about 14" long attached to the E-collar. I do not release the dog until there is slack in the lead. Of course the dog is through FF and CC before I use this method of training. This introduces steadiness to the dog. Meaning no bird until you show me that you are read to retrieve it without pressure in the rope, pretty soon they get the picture and remain still. This also promotes a strait up sit possition so they sit taller and can see the birds better than a lower sit position. This is a proven method used by top FT trainers. I did not think of this myself. I stole it.:)
 

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Also, what do you do in the event that the dog does break to keep it from becoming a habit.
If/when your dog does break, do whatever you can to keep the dog from getting the mark. You don't want it to be rewarded for misbehaving. Having the dog on a rope makes it easier to "catch" the dog. Getting the birdboy to pick it up is even easier, but sometimes there is no birdboy (stretch real good so you don't pull a hamstring :p).

Take advantage of any honoring training situation you can (club, training buddies, etc.).
 

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In general steadiness starts at home. Practice on things like waiting to go through a door or gate, waiting for a food bowl to be set down, etc. Extend the time of waiting. If a dog is not steady at home with daily regular tasks they won't be steady in the field with birds and live fire.

Tom
 

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Can't speak to the programs mentioned but we used the tried and true "place" method. Once pup was reliable to "sit" we introduced a 4" high 30" square platform. Pup gets used to that defined area and knows to stay within it. No electric pressure as you want him to know that the platform is a good safe to sit. You know pup is ready to toss marks when you can't pull him off the platform with a long lead unless he's been released. Took my big high rolling lab one session to get the concept. The guy who helped me said the step up on the platform helped reinforce the "place" concept and made it very easy to identify the proper "boundary." Think he was right.
Two sessions later we were shooting primers and tossing quail all around him while he sat still. We then removed the platform and used a mat. The next week we went on a quail shoot and he was steady to wing and shot on every covey.
 

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Steadiness gets back to Obedenice, the dog has to do as you say, sit means sit means sit, until I release so a break is a viloation of sit. I personally like denials to teach steadiness. Use a check cord (more reliable to make sure the dog doesn't get the bird) and unless the dogs butt stays on the ground it doesn't pick the bird up, either have a BB or honor dog pick it up. Also wait a 15 count before you send.
 

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With the exception of very young pups it's advantageous to teach your pup early that it doesn't get a thing untill it's steady and quiet.

As for time that I'd "think" my dog would break, we'd not wait untill we get afield to hunt to "test" the idea. We'll proof in different areas, and add distractions on top of it long beforehand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the replies. To simplify the original question. You are hunting with a dog that you know has the possibility of breaking or a history of breaking. While in the field hunting, how do you personally handle that dog.
 

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Thanks for all the replies. To simplify the original question. You are hunting with a dog that you know has the possibility of breaking or a history of breaking. While in the field hunting, how do you personally handle that dog.
I don't hunt that dog.

If I were to hunt that dog, I'd put him on a lead so he couldn't break.

If there was only a slight possibility rather than a strong probability of a break, I'd say sit, let someone else shoot the birds, correct the dog with a sit-"nick" if he started to break.

If you are watching the birds and shooting, there isn't a lot you can do if your dog breaks. If he breaks and gets the reward of the bird, the behavior is reinforced. Don't put your dog in a position where you know he'll fail.

Train the dog to be steady before you hunt or keep the dog on lead and let other shoot while you deal with the dog.
 

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Thanks for all the replies. To simplify the original question. You are hunting with a dog that you know has the possibility of breaking or a history of breaking. While in the field hunting, how do you personally handle that dog.
How important to you is it? Dogs are creatures of habit and if you are consistent you can quickly change those habits. If the dog is never rewarded for being disobedient the undesired behavior will decrease. Breaking is something that can happen when you least expect it.

Ultimately, it all depends on what you want and need. If you hunt alone and breaking is never a safety issue than it only matters to you. If your hunting buddies don't like your dog decide to change your dog or your hunting buddies.

If a dog won't do something standing next to you in the backyard they won't do out in the field either.

The easiest problem to fix is the one you don't let develop.

In the end, our dogs should provide us with pleasure. Have fun with your dog.

Tom
 

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I don't hunt that dog.

If I were to hunt that dog, I'd put him on a lead so he couldn't break.

If there was only a slight possibility rather than a strong probability of a break, I'd say sit, let someone else shoot the birds, correct the dog with a sit-"nick" if he started to break.

If you are watching the birds and shooting, there isn't a lot you can do if your dog breaks. If he breaks and gets the reward of the bird, the behavior is reinforced. Don't put your dog in a position where you know he'll fail.

Train the dog to be steady before you hunt or keep the dog on lead and let other shoot while you deal with the dog.

I have had a dog that wouldn't break unless I was shooting. If I wasn't shooting he was steady. So in order to fix all steadiness you have to let someone else do the nic'ng while you shoot. That's where the 25' check cord comes in handy. You can train a dog till heck freezes over on bumpers and throwing dead ducks but until they are in an actual hunting situation all you can do is hope they are steady. There will most likely be training while hunting too. Nothing wrong with that, you just have to have a plan for that also.
 
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