Happy Thanksgiving

Had a great Thanksgiving here at the Higgins Sporting Estate in Yerington Nevada. Started the day off with a morning quail hunt behind some outstanding bird dogs.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.


The Higgins Method: Handling in Birdy Places

Here is a link to a recent handling video.

In the Higgins Method, I don’t use verbal commands (“whoa”) or hand signals to manage or direct the dogs. Instead, management is primarily by body movement and timing, the same way dogs communicate with each other naturally.

My method is based on cooperation and trust. Instead of using conventional obedience drills, I allow the dogs the free will to make choices that lead to success (a bird in their mouth). Soon, they choose steadiness as the most successful strategy.

Higgins Gundogs: Gorgeous George

George and his owner Kevin have been here for six days of training and rehab work. This video was taken on day four. George’s past training had been with a conventional gun dog trainer. He is a nice 2 year old Llewellin Setter but when he got here he was gun-shy, bird-shy, didn’t hunt and had never pointed.

After working with him the first day, I figured out his issue was that when it came to birds, he was all visual. He had never used his nose. Basically, he had a tool in the toolbox that he had never used. He had never pointed because it was never necessary. When it came to birds, George thought the greatest reward was in the chase. I showed him that the real reward for a predator like him was more than just a chase, it was hunting, scenting (using his nose), flushing and catching the prey. All of a sudden, with this new strategy, there was a reason to point. It is the pause before the pounce. After a couple of additional sessions of good flying birds that could not be caught, and a session on the “Magic Brushpile”, George trusted me and asked for help. In this video, he hunted, scented birds, pointed and deferred to me, asking me to go out front to flush and kill the bird for him. Once the bird was down, I rewarded him by asking him to join me in the retrieve.

George is a talented dog. All he really needed was a new strategy for success and the freedom to learn.

The Higgins Method, “Back to the Field”

Here is a dog that recently finished the “Magic Brushpile” phase of my training. Here she is at the next phase of the Higgins Method Flowchart, “Back to the Field”. This is where we put the scent association back into the newly developed strategy. We begin this phase of training by checkcording the dog into the scent cone and controlling her movement through the scent, flush, shot, fall scenario. Soon, when she is trustworthy to be steady on scent, we turn her loose and hunt her while she drags the cord. As you can see in this video, that’s where we’re at with this dog. I pick the checkcord up just before the flush so I can show her again that steadiness after the flush, leads to success (the bird in her mouth). A few more birds and we’ll have steady to flush, shot and fall.

It’s all about building trust through free will. I don’t use obedience to train dogs and make them steady. My goal is to help them learn what it takes to be successful. They will then choose to be steady with all their style, intensity and drive intact because they know steadiness works

Higgins Gundogs, Fixing Problems: Blinking Birds

Here are some updated videos showing  “before” and “after” rehabilitation work.

9/9/15. Here is a 2 year old GSP a client brought in today. A breeder/trainer gave the dog to my client. This video was filmed during our first session. As you’ll see in the video, the dog was nervous and unhappy in the field, wouldn’t hunt and was blinking or avoiding birds. I was asked if I could get the dog happy, hunting and loving birds. With the Higgins Method, I had it done the next day. It took 3 sessions to isolate the problem and fix it. The results are shown in the following video “Higgins Gundogs, Fixing Problems: Blinking Birds (After)”

I will have a video up soon showing the entire process step by step. Thanks for watching.



9/10/15. Before viewing this video, please watch “Higgins Gundogs, Fixing Problems: Blinking Birds (Before).

Here is that 2 year old GSP the client brought in yesterday. This video was filmed during our third session. Now a happy, bold, confident dog that even has a natural retrieve. Can’t argue with success (although some will try) : )








New Forum Category: Fixing Problems and Rehabilitation

A good portion of my business involves helping dogs that are unhappy, nervous or afraid due primarily to mistakes made in obedience based training. My job is to create or rebuild the trusting relationship between all parties involved, the owner, the dog and the bird. This new category will chronicle how I get these dogs happy again and loving what they do.

Here is the first post. It has to do with a young dog that is afraid of flushing birds.




Brad Higgins Discusses Steadiness & Trust

Here is a short video recorded during one of our recent training sessions.

Sophia,HGD Manages a Covey

Here is Sophia, handled by Martha, managing a covey of partridge. These were challenging conditions with virtually no wind, warm temperatures and spooky birds that wanted to run, not fly. They did an outstanding job staying in touch and pressuring the covey just enough to get them to stop, but not so much as to cause them to flush. Sophia managed those birds for another 1000 yards or so before they stopped on a far ridge, and held for the gun.

Magic Brushpile Launcher Rental Program

Since I put up the most recent “Magic Brushpile” video, ( https://youtu.be/8vDfeE1405c ) there has been a lot of interest in what I call the “bang machine” (Zinger launcher). I know, they’re expensive. With electronics, about $600.  That’s why I’ve started a bang machine rental program.

If this is something you might be interested in, or you’d like more information, please let me know.






Partridge Gone Wild

Here is a short video of some of our training partridge. These birds are about as close to wild as you can get.

Good dog work depends on good, wild acting birds. No dog will ever come close to catching one of these. I often invite them to try.