Questions and Answers - 6

By Jim and Phyllis

Pointing Songbirds

When your dog points songbirds, encourage her to move on into an area where you have planted gamebirds.

Question: My 7-month-old Brittany had a good intro to the gun, is very birdy, has a great pointing instinct, been doing well in obedience, etc. But she is pointing small songbirds that she cannot see and has to be smelling them. I hate to pull her off any bird smell at this point since she is so hot to find bird scent. Is praising her for finding and pointing any bird at her age a good thing, or should I find a subtle way to redirect her?

Putting the birds in a bird launcher or Velcro flushing harness will ensure they stay put until you need them.

Answer: From the description that you have given, it is time to channel her "birdyness" into finding game birds. Whenever she points a songbird, send her on immediately by giving her a command to relocate. We use the command "All right". Then guide her towards previously planted game birds (or pigeons). It will not take long until she loses interest in the songbirds if you expose her to lots of birds that you want her to hunt.

Training Equipment

Question: I'll be getting my first bird dog soon, an English setter. What would you recommend as essential training equipment for the first-time dog trainer? I live in the suburbs and don't have a lot of room to run the dog without going a ways out of town.

Answer: To train bird dogs, we recommend homing pigeons, a bird launcher, training platforms and a good e-collar that has both the "nick" and continuous type of stimulation and our basic training tape " 'Whoa' for Pointing Dogs". At a minimum, you can start with a place board and an e-collar. This will enable you to teach "whoa" "Here" and the trained retrieve in a small area.

It is a good idea to get her out into the field to enjoy running and hunting as much as possible. Make your trips to the field worthwhile by using that time to teach her to hunt with you and not become too independent. Check out our article in Pointing Dog Journal "Using the New E-Collars in Collar Conditioning" Nov/Dec 1998 for more information on beginning yard and fieldwork. *

Dog Too Fast

Question: Is there any way to slow my dog down in the woods? She was raised hunting pheasants on the prairie, but I have now moved to northern Wisconsin and will be hunting ruffed grouse and woodcock almost exclusively. However, my setter still streaks through the woods. I'm afraid she's going to miss birds, and she wears herself out in no time and is too tuckered to hunt much beyond 45 minutes or and hour. She still stays in a nice range; she just covers the ground at top speed.

Answer: Many dogs learn to pace themselves if they are hunted a lot. If she doesn't, she may have to be handled from side to side more often than normal. Enforce your command to turn whenever she doesn't change direction on command. A lot of handling will inhibit her because she will perceive that she is being controlled rather than being let free to run. For more information see Pointing Dog Journal article "Patterning the Dog to Stay to the Front" Nov/Dec 1993. *

E-Collar Help for Soft Dog

Question: My English setter is 1-1/2 years old and a very soft dog. She has never been shocked or had any harsh discipline. I'm pretty easy on my dogs, preferring repetition to punishment. She hunts hard has a terrific nose, is learning to handle wild birds, and has a very sweet disposition. She has a couple of faults that I'd like to cure. She will whoa but she's unreliable. I've used a barrel and rope in the yard, but once she gets away from the training area, she'll "forget" her lessons. When I move in to set her back, she'll lie on the ground--she's not scared, she just acts like she wants her belly rubbed. The other issue is that she won't retrieve. She'll find the dead bird, pick it up and bring it a few steps, then drop it and pull feathers. I plan to hunt her hard this year and get her into plenty of birds. In the off-season, I'll be working on these faults. Any help on using an e-collar on a very soft dog would help?

Answer: When your dog lies down on her back, she is saying, "If you are going to control me, I quit. I am not going to obey you." In actuality, she is just demonstrating that her training is not complete. In order to become a reliable working dog she must be taught that there are three commands that ARE NOT voting issues. (The three commands are: Come, Whoa, and Fetch.) You may want to review the following training articles we wrote for Pointing Dog Journal: "Using the New E-collars in Collar Conditioning" Nov/Dec 1998 and "Using the New E-Collars to Enforce 'Whoa'" Jan/Feb 1999. For the retrieve problem check out "A New Technique to Prevent Mouth Problems" Sept/Oct 1999 and "Training for a Reliable Fetch" March/April 2000. *

* You can find our past Pointing Dog Journal articles on our web site in the Pointing Dog Library. Just click on the Pointing Dog.

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