Manipulating the Dogs Hunting Strategy

 

 

I don’t train dogs. I simply manipulate their current hunting strategy by encouraging them to include me. It’s simple and it works every time. It’s how I work with all the dogs from inexperienced puppies to dogs with problems caused by excessive obedience training. Here it is in a nutshell. First, I let them establish a natural hunting strategy. To do this, I release birds in a hunting field. This “hunting field or fields” do not have to be where you go to hunt wild birds during season. Simply a place where the birds are free (released), act similar to wild birds and can be shot. Remember, the birds are the dog trainers, not us. Our job is simply to set up scenarios where the birds can do their job. There is no yard work. No pigeons, launcher, pressure or commands. Dogs (all predators) learn quickly and with ease by building associations. What they learn in the yard is not naturally applied to a new area, the hunting field.

The initial hunting strategy I want the dogs to create is “bump & chase”. It’s easy and happens quickly. Birds are released in the hunting field for the dogs to hunt. They learn about air scent and ground scent. They learn to stalk runners and coveys. Soon, they begin to stalk and point, trying to get closer to the prey before the pounce. This is also where I let them chase and catch a few birds while I introduce the gun as a positive, necessary association to getting the bird in their mouths.

At this point, I have a happy dog that looks forward to hunting with me. We’re having fun hunting birds together. So far, he hunts his birds, stalks, then bumps and chases. Now it’s time to tweak his current hunting strategy. I will show him that if he will include me (basically wait for me), his odds of successfully getting the bird in his mouth will increase.

First, I need to show him the new strategy. This is how the young predators learn to hunt. They need to see what works. I start with the checkcord for the first few birds. Now when the bird flushes, I can control his chase and show him the new steadiness associations. I’ll even have the shooter shoot, bring back and share a few birds with the dog. From now on, chasing is unsuccessful. Not chasing, controlling energy is the answer now.  The same natural energy management he displayed when he stalked and pointed, I now want him to demonstrate when a bird flushes, when the gun goes off and when the bird falls. He was born knowing how to do it. This change of strategy from chasing to steadiness happens quickly. This new act of being steady on birds (not flushing or chasing) can be as natural a response as flushing and chasing used to be. It’s just a matter of strategy.

To be continued…………

 

Brad Higgins

Higgins Gundogs

 

 


Olive Working Quail

Here is a short video I did recently of Olive hunting and managing quail. Our hunting style is quiet and unhurried with no commands. I keep the hunts between the dog and the birds. Olive knows that her odds of success (getting the bird in her mouth) increase if she includes me in her hunting strategy. It’s all based on trust and cooperation.

 


Meet & Greet / Handler Seminar

Hi Everyone,
As you may know, I currently have some of my european pointer puppies, as well as some experienced Higgins Gundogs available.
In order to get a feel for what it’s like to hunt and shoot over dogs trained using my unique “Higgins Method” of hunting and handling, I’m putting together an opportunity for those interested, to come out, meet and work with our dogs. You’re invited to learn to handle with me and/or shoot over our experienced dogs. You’ll be involved as we “fly the dogs” with the Higgins Method. Quiet, unhurried, a walk in the park with steady, cooperative dogs. We’ll also be working our young pups on lots of birds in the field. It will be a fun day with like minded people and a lot of great dog work.
Date: January 11, 2020
Cost is $100 per person and includes a catered lunch.
Click on the link below for additional information.


December 2019 Newsletter

Here is a link to our current Newsletter.

Newsletter

 

 


Nigel is Available

Nigel is now available. He is a certified Higgins Gundog from our imported European Pointer lines.

For more information about Nigel and to learn more about the Higgins Method of dog training and handling, please contact us.

http://HigginsGundogs.com

Info@HigginsGundogs.com

775-267-7240

 

 

 

 


Higgins Gundogs: The Art of Wingshooting Over Dogs

Here is the first video in a new series I’ll be producing. This series will concentrate on the handlers responsibilities when wingshooting over dogs using the Higgins Training Method. Most of my videos show the unique talents displayed by the dogs. This new series will show the hunt but include more from the handlers perspective. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to comment.


Creating Mental Steadiness

The Art of Dog Training

Reagan and I were in the field this morning working some dogs. Here is Ekahi showing beautiful mental steadiness and good decision making. Signatures of the Higgins Method.

 


A New Certified Higgins Gundog

Congratulation to our recently certified Higgins Gundog, HGD Griffonpoint X’Bomber and his owner Chad Woods. Chad drove here from Kansas and stayed for four days. It worked out great with Bomber even earning his Higgins Gundog Certification. We worked a total of 65 great flying (and running) Higgins quail. Below is a link to a video I did on our last day of training. In it, Chad is handling and shooting over Bomber.

In order to earn his HGD title, Bomber demonstrated his understanding of our flush/stop cue, stop to flush, steadiness through flush, shot and fall, team stalking (honoring), and a nice natural retrieve on our “hunt dead” cue. As is the mark of a Higgins trained Gundog, he showed more than physical steadiness, he showed a mental steadiness based on free will and trust in the handler.

I’ve included here, a link to the list of Certified Higgins Gundogs and their owners as well as a link to our certification requirements. https://higginsgundogs.com/s…/higgins… https://higginsgundogs.com/higgins-pa…


Learning the Higgins Method. First, Forget Everything You Know

Been working on the upcoming book, The Higgins Method. Here are some thoughts taken from various chapters on the differences between my method and conventional, obedience based training methods. You’ll  find that many things are opposite of conventional obedience training.

 

(1)  I never tell the dogs when to stop (“WHOA”). I never need to. They know how to manage their birds. Instead of demanding they STOP, I do the opposite. I give them permission to go (my “Flush/Stop” cue).

(2)  You’re not the dog trainer. That’s the birds job.  Your job is to simply set up realistic hunting scenarios with good, wild acting birds. Let the birds take it from there. He will learn from the birds that his odds of success (a bird in his mouth) increase when he is steady and waits for the shooter to kill the bird.

(3)  I show the dogs that I can increase his odds of success if he will include me in his hunt. From his point of view, I’m a liability. I can’t keep up or smell a thing. But I do have an ability that he does not. I can increase his odds of success by shooting the birds for him. It doesn’t take long for him to cooperate, include me in his hunt, and choose to be steady.

(4)  The foundation of other training methods is unnatural and foreign to the dogs. These methods are based on obedience and pressure. My method is the opposite. It’s based on the natural way predators interact, forming groups to live and hunt together. It’s based on trust and cooperation.

(5)  If you think you’re teaching your dog to fetch and retrieve you’re wrong. From his perspective, you’re teaching and rewarding him for chasing. I don’t teach dogs to chase. I don’t command a retrieve. I build trust first, then I simply nurture his natural instinct to share the kill. The secret is to remember that it’s his bird, not yours. Build trust and he will want to share his bird with you.

(6)  I don’t do obedience training with drills or repetition. Dogs are not programmed to think that way. I train the way they think using associations, timing, consistency and success. Because the birds we use have been released, I don’t know what they may do. They might be in a covey, they might run, flush wild before being pointed, etc. If you find yourself being repetitive and doing “drills” stop, and reevaluate your training method. Manage the hunt but keep it natural and as realistic as possible. The dogs should see time in the field as hunting, not training.

(7)  Pointing is simply part of stalking. It’s the predators way of closing the gap, getting closer to the prey before the pounce. I want to encourage this. The way I see it, all the work he did, the stealthy movement and intensity, culminate in the pounce (aggressive flush). I will never go in and steal a dogs point by walking up and  commanding him to “WHOA” while I flush his bird. He found it and managed it well. He is allowed to present his bird to the gun (pounce) on my “Flush/Stop” cue.

 

More to come.

 

Brad Higgins

Higgins Gundogs

 


Here is Our Newest Certified Higgins Gundog, HGD Sage

Here is our newest, certified Higgins Gundog Sage, and her owner Ron. We took her from bumping and chasing birds, to steady to wing, shot & fall in three days. In addition, she does a nice aggressive flush/stop on cue, honors another dog’s point and has a nice, gentle retrieve. (The birds used in my training hunts are not wild birds. They are pen raised birds that I have released for training.)