Lisa Durand of Glacier Griffons stopped by for a couple of days of training. Her dog Lies, is a one year old Griffon imported from Holland. Lies had had no prior bird work. All of her prior bird experience had been just bumping and chasing.
Dog naturally learn by association. Some examples would be, scent is a bird, scent moves downwind, gunfire precedes the fall of the bird, etc. I started by introducing her to birds and the field. I let her learn about bird scent and how it moves downwind. Because she was so visually oriented, I set up situations where, if she was to find the bird, she would have to use and begin trusting her nose. We then introduced the gun and shot a couple of birds for her. Next step was to show her a new hunting strategy that includes the shooter.
In order to bring out and maintain all of her natural drive and intensity, I need to keep her focused on the prey. That’s why, on my cue, I let the dogs flush the birds. The deal is, I’ll allow you to flush your bird but in return, you must never chase. She is learning that in order to be successful, the aggressive flush must always be followed by an immediate “stop to flush”.
In this video, she is shown that, steadiness, not chasing, produces the reward (a bird in her mouth). You can see she is beginning to put it all together. In another 4 or 5 birds, she will be running free in the field and will understand and demonstrate steady to scent, flush shot and fall.
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.
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
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
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) : )
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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.