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) : )
In order to help understand this “Magic Brushpile” video, please follow the link below. It will take you to the flowchart of the Higgins Method. https://higginsgundogs.com.com/about-us/our-method/method-flowchart/
The Higgins Method of gun dog training is unique. Unlike obedience based training methods, my method is based on building trust and cooperation. In this video, you’ll watch a young dog learn and begin to understand in one session, a new hunting strategy. Steady to flush, shot and fall.
Keep in mind, what I did with the dog in the “Magic Brushpile” video can take a few sessions. In the video I ran through it quickly so people could see the power of the Brushpile. Don’t be concerned if, with some dogs, it takes 10 or more sessions. There is no hurry.
I have been getting a lot of feedback about the MBP video. I’ve included here, answers to some of the questions people have as they put the “Magic Brushpile” training into practice.
Use the right length check cord, 15 feet. Watch my MBP video again. There I demonstrate the correct use of the check cord. Practice manipulating the check cord. Hook it to your training buddy (a human), and work him or her on the MBP. It’s fun and you both might learn something. This is important. Your job as handler is to control the slack or lack of slack in the check cord with good timing. The check cord is our tool of communication.
When I’m working a dog on the MBP, to help clients understand, I break it up into four goals. First I want to see the dog, while on the check cord, stop himself instead of me using the check cord to stop him. Once he demonstrates that to me three or four times, with many dogs, we’re done for the day. The second goal is for the dog to stop himself after I drop the check cord. I bring him up to about where he has been stopping himself, and gently drop the cord, within a couple of steps, he should stop himself. I will then step on the check cord just before I launch the bird (I don’t want him breaking or moving toward the bird). I now want him to demonstrate this to me three or four times. The third goal is for the dog to stop and defer while the shooter walks out front. This is done with the handler back to managing the check cord again. You need to be there if he needs help (I don’t want him breaking or moving toward the bird). Once he demonstrates that he will stop himself and defer while the shooter walks to front, (remember, at this point, the handler is holding the check cord), I want him to show me a couple more times. Now we’re ready for the final goal. I start him with the check cord and when I get near to the area where he has been stopping, I drop the check cord. If he understands, he will stop on his own and defer while the shooter walks to front, the bird is launched, the gun goes off, the bird hits the ground and the shooter brings the bird and gives it to the dog. Shooters remember, you need to be walking two or three paces behind and to the side 30 to 50 feet of the handler. On the walkup, I don’t want you in the dogs peripheral vision. I want his focus on the MBP.
(1) shooter out front while handler check cords the dog toward the MBP.
(2) Shooter out front, handler drops check cord just before dog stops (then steps on the cord just before bird is launched).
(3) Shooter now behind and to the side while handler check cords the dog toward the MBP. If the dog understands, it should “defer” to the shooter (trusting, asking for help).
(4) Handler starts the dog toward the MPB and drops the cord. Dog should stop, defer to the shooter and remain steady through SWSF and the return of the bird.
Watch my “Magic Brushpile” video 10 more times. There is a ton of information there. Something really important is how I manipulate the check cord. Handlers need to be in touch with the dog. The check cord is our connection. Talk to them with it.
Here is a short video of Will working on the whistle cued, “Stop Moving”. This will be necessary information when we begin asking him to flush the birds then immediately stop moving (no chasing). Remember, whenever possible, we don’t tell the dog’s what to do (that’s obedience, the removal of free will), we want to tell them what to stop doing. In other words, we want them to use their free will and try a different strategy for success. They already know how to do this. It’s inherent in all predators.
Here is Ruger’s first experience learning to manage a running chukar. His job here, as with all running birds, is to manage the bird with just enough pressure to get it to stop, but not so much as to make it flush. If you look closely, you can see the bird running in front of the dog. You can also hear me helping him control his energy. He listens and responds to my timing and the tone of my voice. I don’t use any type of “whoa” training in my program so if Ruger decided to break and try to catch or chase the bird, he is free to do so, and he knows it. He did a great job. He managed the bird carefully and chose to stop at the perfect time (he was not stopped by the dragging check cord). The bird stopped running and held for the shooter. Ruger was then steady to wing and shot. A great example of trust and free will. He knows I’m there to help him make successful decisions. Once the bird was shot, he was released to retrieve (successfully get the bird in his mouth).
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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.