About Higgins Gundogs

At Higgins Gundogs, our goal is to produce a well mannered hunting team (dog and owner). Our training method is unique and is based on how your dog thinks. Using my method, you will be with me every step of the way as we teach you and your dog to become a team. Our training program is generally completed in a total of 10 to 15 hours. In that time, you’ll learn a new way to hunt with your dog and handle him in the field. Your dog will learn about the prey (birds) and how to stalk and manage them. He will flush the bird on our verbal “alright” cue and will understand steady to the flush (no chasing). Most dogs will also demonstrate a natural retrieve. We can break the session up over a few weeks or, as many owners do, you can come out and stay three or four days to get it done. We train and hunt the dogs using only wild or good, wild acting released  birds.

Because our method is based on natural learning (no handler induced pressure or obedience), your dog will become steady much quicker than with conventional training and exhibit all his natural intensity, drive and focus.

In order to help understand our training philosophy and method, first some scientific facts about what a dog is:

The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. Through DNA sequencing, it was reclassified in 1993 as Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the gray wolf Canis lupus, by the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists. Overwhelming evidence from behavior, vocalizations, morphology, and molecular biology led to the contemporary scientific understanding that a single species, the gray wolf, is the common ancestor for all breeds of domestic dogs. (reference, Wikipedia)

Our method is unique. We begin with some undeniable truths about “predator” hunting dogs.”

  • They are pack animals and think as such.
  • They are social predators.
  • They learn steadiness from the bird (steadiness leads to success)
  • Success to a predator is the bird in his mouth
  • A dogs ”point” is the pause before the pounce
  • The pounce is to get the bird in his mouth
  • As pack animals and predators they learn in three ways; through association, observation and trial and error.

We train dogs the same way they learn how to hunt in nature. Young predators learn how to hunt by watching their parent or other pack members. They see how to be successful first (observation). They learn what works and they are free to try options (trial & error).

We’re silent, no verbal signals. We stay out of the dog’s way. A dogs style, intensity and drive are created and maintained by the bird. The dogs focus must stay on the bird. Anything we do that makes the dog focus on us, takes away from the dogs focus on the bird and thus the dog can loses intensity.

Most of the dogs we work with will demonstrate their understanding of our method and be steady on birds in just a few hours. They learn quickly that if, instead of flushing or chasing the bird (unsuccessful options), they wait for the handler, he’ll go out front, shoot and return a bird back to them. The only way to be successful, is to wait for the handler. Steadiness makes sense. Because our method includes minimal handler induced pressure and no corrections, we have many dogs as young as 8 months that are hunting, steady to wing shot and kill. Remember, this is training the way nature intended, motivated by success. Our dogs choose to be steady because it works. It leads to a bird in their mouth.

In addition, our trained retrieve program is low pressure and creates a dog that loves to retrieve.

Working with problem dogs is our specialty. We take the time to work with you and your dog to understand how the problem was created and how best to help him get back on track.