Here is a video showing how I train handlers. Because I create human and dog hunting teams, it’s important that each member understand their role and responsibilities. Once the dog understands how to be successful with our unique hunting strategy, it’s time to train the owner/handlers.
Special thanks to Katy Stuehm of Griffonpoint kennel, the breeder of Cabi, Reagan Olivares, shooter supreme, Griffinpoint Cabi and of course Joe Drew for giving me the opportunity to do my magic.
Andie Mann came out this week for a couple of days of training. I worked with Andie in the past but had not seen her for three years. She brought her three dogs, Jameson, Julie and Rayne. All the dogs did well. They remembered their past training and made me proud.
This is Griffonpoint W’ Moose learning the Flush/Stop cue. What we want here is an aggressive flush followed by an immediate stop-to- flush. This is a great psychological exercise that leads to a whole new level of trust, cooperation and steadiness.
Basically, I make a deal with the dogs. I’ll let you do what you’ve always wanted to do, flush the birds, but in return, you can only do it if, and when I ask. They all take the deal.
We are sorry to hear of the recent passing of one of our original Higgins Gundogs. HGD Tom and his owner Andie Mann were always a pleasure to work with and made me proud. They were a great team and will always be remembered with a smile. Keep up the good work Andie and give Jameson a pat for me.
Here is a video from 2013 that include some scenes of Andie handling Perfect Tom. It doesn’t get any better than this.
The pups are 4 months old now. All are doing well. Here is Biscuit practicing the “flush” cue (I use the word “alright”). We’re also working on her “stop to flush”. I always use good flying birds that the pups can’t catch. Her chases are getting shorter and shorter. Soon, she will stop chasing all together. She will learn that the best way to consistently get a bird in her mouth is to stop chasing and instead, be steady at the flush. Being steady to flush is always rewarded. Either by me offering a bird or her being allowed the retrieve on command. Chase = lose, Steady = win. Pretty simple choice
I made a deal with the dogs. I’ll let you do what you have always wanted to do, flush the bird. But, in return, you can only do it when I ask you to.
I use a verbal “all right” cue. Once the dog is in the birdy area and points the bird, “All right” does not mean flush the bird. It simply means do what you think is right to stop the bird (if it’s running), manage it, and prepare it for the flush. I can’t expect the dog to do an aggressive flush until it has established where the target is. The goal is stylish, thoughtful bird management, an aggressive flush followed by an instant stop to flush.
Here is a copy of an e-mail I sent a client recently. He had a question about my “Packleader Leash” including how to transition to a regular collar. His e-mail began with how to get his dog to stop pulling or lunging forward on the leash.
These are typical issues when dogs are learning that the space out front has been claimed by you. The answer is to have good timing and do the jerk on the leash before the dog gets out front. Watch the Packleader Leash video a few more times. Lots of information there.
The walk transition to a flat collar is easy and you should be able to get it done in a couple of sessions. First, let’s not call it “heeling”. That is a term obedience trainers use. As you probably guessed, I’ve become a bit touchy about some of their methods and tools including the aggressive use of shock collars, ear pinching, toe hitches, whoa barrels, etc. In order to clearly separate my method from all that aggressive obedience based training, I find that a different vocabulary has been useful and necessary. I use “walking at my side”. Does not sound a lot different but it describes the foundation of my method, trust and cooperation. Remember, he’s at my side because I claimed the space out front, not because I commanded him to heel. With my method, in his mind, he is making a choice, not being commanded and made to comply. If you think like a dog, it becomes quite simple. Dogs don’t tell each other what to do. They tell each other what to stop doing. The manipulation of choice and free will are important. More on that later.
Anyway, back to your question. The secret to transitioning to a flat collar starts with the walk with the nose wrap. I’m not sure what you’re using, but I’ll describe the transition with my Packleader Leash. When he settles and is walking well, stop and remove just the nose wrap portion of the leash. the Packleader leash is now just around his neck. Keep the leash up high on his neck, right behind his ears. Now, as you begin walking, if he pulls or tries to get ahead of you, be sure to do the quick “jerk/release” before he gets out front (watch the “Walk” video again, the timing is the same). The leash must stay up behind his ears and if he gets out front, it will slide down his neck and be useless. This is important, as you transition from the nose wrap, you may have to jerk more aggressively This is normal in the beginning for some dogs. You may even need to jerk/release a few times in quick succession. Remember, it’s jerk, loose, jerk, loose, jerk loose. There should never be pressure on the leash. If he leans on the leash or you feel pressure, jerk/release. With some dogs, in the beginning, I need to use both hands on the leash to get the jerk/release done. A good way to understand it is to jerk/release just a bit harder than he pulled on you. Again, be sure it’s very quick (snappy), then loose. The final transition is from the Packleader Leash without the nose wrap to the regular flat collar. Same rules apply.
So the transition goes from the Packleader Leash with the nose wrap, to the Packleader leash without the nose wrap to the regular flat collar. It can all be done within just a couple of sessions.
Here is Jax, a nice young Lab pointing his bird this weekend. Reagan is the shooter.
When it comes to dogs (like Labs) that have been bred to flush birds, I like to give them the freedom to choose their strategy, to work with their strengths. If a flushing dog demonstrates a talent for pointing, and the type of hunting he’ll be doing is conducive to it, I say let him point.
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Higgins Gundogs provides gundog and owner training, using quiet, low pressure techniques based on dog psychology. We offer guide service in Lincoln, CA, as well as seminars, online video training, and of course our renown Higgins Remote Releaser. Our goal is to give you the tools, knowledge and confidence to train and handle your hunting dog yourself. Thanks for visiting us.