Black Pointer Pups

Here is one of our black pointer pups working some chukar. This has been an outstanding litter. At this time I have one male available to the right home.


Higgins Gundogs “B” Litter

Our new black European Pointer pups are 12 weeks old now. All are hunting aggressively, managing their birds, pointing and retrieving birds on land & water. These pups are beautifully balanced and socialized and are as good in the house as they are in the field. In a few more weeks, all will be Higgins Gundog certified and ready for deserving homes.

Here is a link to the latest video.


Fully Trained Higgins Gundogs Are Now Available!

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As many of you know, over the last few years I have been building a unique pointer breeding program. From falconry dogs forged on the Moors of northern Scotland to beautiful and talented individuals from the leading kennels in Italy and Denmark, I have been importing those dogs that have the right balance between natural talent, drive, biddability and cooperation. Read more…


Beginning the Steadiness Process

This is Deva, our new 4 month old Pointer pup. This is her first steadiness session on the checkcord (basically the beginning of her Magic Brushpile work, http://higginsgundogs.com/about-us/our-method/method-flowchart/ ) and the beginning of her steadiness training. Before this, as per the flowchart, she learned how to hunt and find birds, she handles well in the field, likes the gun and has a nice “here” command on the checkcord.

The most important thing to watch here is the checkcord work. Once she finds a bird and decelerates, (gets careful and stealthy), I don’t want to have the checkcord tight. Watch the checkcords shadow. A loose checkcord means she is choosing to be careful. If I have to constantly restrain her, she isn’t learning anything.

You’ll see here, we are introducing the Flush/Stop cue. She is allowed to flush the birds but only on my verbal “alright”. If some prefer that the shooter flushes the birds, just keep her there while the shooter goes in and flushes.

At this stage, the shooter does the retrieve. Dogs see retrieving as chasing birds. I don’t want to confuse her here. Retrieving comes last in the training process, after steadiness. You’ll notice in the video, she does not realize the shooter is going to do the retrieve, bringing her bird back and giving it to her. 3 birds later, she understood the teamwork and stood, solid as a rock.

The collar she is wearing is a GPS collar. No e-collars, commands or hand signals are used.

Hope you enjoy it. I’ll put up more videos soon.


Pointer Pup Learning to Flush on Cue

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

 

 


The Puppies are Growing Fast

The pups are 3 1/2 months old now. All looking good and enjoying their bird work.

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Will Honors Glen

Here is a photo taken yesterday while Katie and I were out working the dogs. I often use one of the seasoned dogs to help me train the new pups. In this photo, Glen found a small covey of partridge. Will came around the bush, saw Glen and honored. A bird was shot and the two of them got to share it.

Will is a new pup we received from Des O’neile of Northern Ireland. His Glencuan dogs are exceptionally talented. At this stage, everything Will does in natural, no training involved. All I have done is given him time in the field with birds to hone his natural hunting instincts (predator/prey), shown him how to be successful then, set up natural scenarios for him to practice. He has seen Glen on point before and has run in, flushed the birds and tried to catch them unsuccessfully. His new strategy for success is to honor the pointing dog. He’s learning that steadiness pays off.

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VIDEO: 6 Month Old Bird Dog

Here is a young dog we recently trained. He is steady to wing, shot and fall. He also stops to flush and has a natural retrieve.

People often ask how we can get such a young dog (6 months old) understanding this level of steadiness and still maintain his natural drive, intensity and focus. The reason is, I don’t use any pressure or obedience in his steadiness training and bird work. My method is success based. He knows that If he cooperates, I’ll help him get the bird in his mouth.

 

Brad Higgins


Teaching a Dog to Walk With Me

Here is a copy of a recent post I submitted in a Gundog training forum. The owner was having trouble teaching a young pup to “heel”.

Response:

I do things a little different. I approach training from the dogs point of view. What I’ve learned from the dogs over the years is that they don’t spend a lot of time telling each other what TO do. When it’s important, their natural instinct is to tell each other what NOT to do. Don’t come near my bone, Stay away from my bed, Get out of my yard, etc. They don’t tell each other to sit, stay, come, heel, roll over, play dead, shake, etc.

What the dogs know is group dynamics. The most important aspect of this, the way they decide where they fit in the flexible canine social structure, is by the claiming of space and things. I teach a dog to walk with me by simply claiming the space out front. He chooses to walk with me because it’s the only option I left for him to choose. He sees it as “free will”. In his mind, if he chooses to do it, he feels more confident and in control. This is the cornerstone of the Higgins Method, building mutual trust. He walks with me because I showed him that when I ask, the space out front belongs to me. Strange, but it is really that simple.

Here is a video of a young dog that had no leash training. I have her happily understanding and walking with me in about 10 minutes.
http://youtu.be/I3FEQcCY1E0

There are many ways to make dogs do things. I find that if I can discover the way that makes the most sense to them, using their natural instincts, we’re both happier.

Brad Higgins
Higgins Gundogs

 

 


Raising your puppy

Yes, they are six months old now!  Your puppy might be feeling its oats and even be starting to feel the naughtiness of adolescence encouraging them to act in ways their former baby sweetness did not.

If this is the case we will give you some tips for handling these behaviors which can include: counter surfing, nipping, biting while playing rough, playing rough, rushing through doors, molesting windows and doors , knocking people down when going up or down stairs, making inappropriate noise while crated, etc.

If your puppy is exhibiting any of these behaviors you are not alone, most puppies go through this stage and it is a matter of management (not necessarily getting them tired) to get them through it.

The first thing we recommend is that you look at this video and do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3FEQcCY1E0  The Higgins training method is not only for gundogs, it is a dog behavior philosophy based on how dogs think, not how humans wish they would think.

If you have any questions about the leash, we can send you one. Other leashes will not work. It needs to be a simple, plastic lead with a noose. Fancier collars will not be the right weight or stiffness.

This Walk is the place where you earn your puppy’s trust and show them that you can claim space from them. They are hardwired as pack predators to understand this and after the ‘hissy fit’ on this leash, they will be calm and happy. In fact, they will be more calm and will have learned to manage their own energy through this exercise which is half of the battle with puppy energy.

Once they understand the Walk, you will also be able to claim space in the home. When we have a puppy who is noisy in the crate, we simply put them into the crate, open door to the crate and claim the room. Their job is now to stay in the crate. Suddenly their energy is focused on staying in the crate so they stop letting their energy exit as noise and fretting. They become calm and take a nap. 

Whenever you have to break your puppy’s focus to change their behavior, use a noise that sounds like a growl—‘Ach!’. This noise is more effective than english as it is a noise that they understand from infancy from their mother. Whenever your puppy is thinking bad thoughts (like counter surfing) use this noise while reinforcing it by inserting your body between them and the counter, backing them up to their dog bed or crate or out of the room they are in. After they have made the association between your ‘Ach’ and you claiming space, you will be able to claim space from a distance. (example: you are at your computer when you hear the wastepaper basket rustle, you give a loud ‘Ach’ and the puppy walks away from the rubbish.) Basically, ‘Ach’ means ‘stop whatever it is you’re doing!’. It replaces all of the obedience words that you have been trying to teach but give up on because it is too much work and the dog doesn’t listen anyhow. ‘Ach’ means: stop jumping on my mother-in-law, stop running through the door when I open it, stop begging, stop chewing on the coffee table, stop eating the Christmas roast, stop chewing on me, stop nipping a the children, stop playing rough, stop running away from me, etc.

Of course, ‘Ach’ won’t mean anything until you have shown them that you can claim space. This is where the Walk is essential, it is the foundation for your elevation in the household. If you don’t do this, you are another pack member who can be molested and ignored until you show them that you can accelerate and claim space. This is not about obedience, this is simply about earning trust. None of the dogs in my house know a single obedience command yet they leave the staircase when I or my children place a foot on it, they stay in contact while I’m in the field with them, they don’t jump on guests or counter surf. 

Also, it is important to manage their space by not allowing them to have the run of the house until they have earned their freedom. This means that if we are actively playing with, giving attention to or am generally aware of a young pup, s/he is loose in the room we are in. As soon as we need to focus on my kids or do some chores where we will lose track of them, we put them someplace where they are managed so they cannot go chew on the curtains or execute some clever scheme to trip us in the middle of the night somewhere out of sight. we use an ex-pen in our living room for our young Griffons.

Once they have consistently shown that they know the boundaries, they have more and more time loose in the house. At the moment, only our seven and four year old girls have the run of the house when we are not home. Ithaca and Tidbit are only a year old and just beginning to get more freedom in the house. There is nothing wrong with crating them for an hour if you need some space. Especially if you have given them plenty of exercise.