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While we are out on our walks, my golden will freeze when he sees rabbits and sometimes birds. It is a behavior I would like to encourage because I plan to bring him bird hunting with me in the fall and would like it if he "points" the birds. Is this something that can be trained? I did not consider a golden as a pointing dog.

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Puddles
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I will let the field people comment on the pointing issue but as a person that also walks my girls in the woods, the moment they focus on something... deer or any critter, I quickly redirect their attention back to me. Running after anything on their own is considered hunting for themselves. The process of training any hunting dog is teaching the dog to hunt for you. But you do want them to focus so don't correct them... good instincts, just remind them to pay attention to you. Hunting with any field dog is a very disciplined venue, the dogs don't just go after everything they see. They go when sent.
 

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Some retrievers have a natural tendency to point. With a little experience properly trained retrievers will often learn to point. A "properly trained" retriever does not break at the flush or shot.
Once that is learned it will not take long for the dog to anticipate the flush and shot when it is on a bird. A dog that knows not to break will watch for the flush so the bird can be marked for the retrieve that rewards his good behavior, everyone wins. It is not a true point and any die hard pointing dog man will scoff if you say other wise. The effect is the same, you know your dog is on a bird and have time to prepare for the shot.
I know, some say they want their dog to break so it gets on the bird faster. That's an excuse for poor training. Ever sat in a duck blind with a dog that broke at every shot? Not fun.
It is a safety issue as well. It is common for a shot bird to sail across a road or to the other side of a hidden fence before dropping. Do you want your dog charging after such a bird?
Dogs that run hunt test and trials will see a lot of tempting fliers. Breaking on any of them will make for a short weekend. When you are hunting all the birds are fliers. How can a dog be expected to remain steady at a test or trial if allowed to break when hunting?
 

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Over the many years I have had dogs, my Goldens have been trained to hunt waterfowl. But, we also have access to good pheasant and quail areas also. My dogs learns early to located down waterfowl using their nose. This training and experience transfers well to hunting upland game. When working a field I keep the dogs working within 40-50 yds. of me. This is done using a sit whistle when the work to far out. I also walk in a zig zag pattern to teach them to quarter the area we are hunting. In time they do this without the zig zagging. Once I close the distance, I release them with a hunt 'em up command. When they find a bird scent they get very focused and slow down their motion, like they are trying to sneak up on the bird. Also their tail will be 'flagging'! At this point I give them a 'whistle sit', I approach the bird trying to kick it up...and release them if I cannot flush it...usually the bird will flush and I take my shot while my pup is still on sit! I then say fetch and they deliver to hand, assuming I made a good shot.

My point is my waterfowl dog, makes it easy to teach them to hunt upland birds also. You just have to keep an eye on your pup and read what is happening....what fun they are!
 

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I’ll add one more thing. A true point, as pointing dogs are expected to do and some retrievers do as well, is a modified stalk. It sounds like this is what the op‘s dog is doing. It should not be difficult develop develop this behavior into a solid point. It is important to remember that you are always training. That means when you’re hunting, intentionally training, going for walks, etc. your standards for pointing must always be enforced. If you are lax in any situation your dog will be also.
If your dog breaks on a pheasant next time you’re hunting treat it as a training situation.
 

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Kate
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I NEVER discourage my dogs when they are looking at something. I normally call them to my side, but where they look - it usually means there is somebody or something in the woods with us. They don't normally do that about squirrels....
 

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Okey dokey, I have this problem. It’s a big problem because I used to run my boy in master spaniel hunt tests. Which require a solid hard flush and NO POINTING! I also used to run him in NAHRA hunt tests, which require also a flush, but NO POINTING. Which means I can’t run him in either test anymore!!

My boy didn’t initially point for the first 3 years of his life. Flushed hard and fast and was fun to watch. After his flush, his fluffy butt always hit the ground. Then one day last spring, he had a runner. Dang dog then just pointed at the runner, he didn’t know what else to do. He thought he was doing the right thing. I made the mistake of telling him to hunt it up. So being the really really good boy that he is, now he waits for me to tell him to flush. He will hold his point forever if I don’t tell him to flush. Then after the flush, which is hard and fast, his fluffy butt hits the ground. I shoot, then send him for the retieve.

If you aren’t running in spaniel hunt tests or NAHRA hunt tests, then this point, then flush, then sit, is a good thing. So pick which route you want to go. Getting a dog to stop pointing hasn’t been possible for Riot. On the other hand, his manner is exactly what my husband wants out of a hunting dog.

If your dog points and you want to increase that pointing, start setting chukar for him. Chukar will sit tight and encourage a point from your dog. Do not set pigeons. Pigeons are jumpy and flush very easily, which will cause your dog to break the point and go into a flush.

Good luck and don’t try to enter spaniel hunt tests, or senior NAHRA hunt tests.
 

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JMO

If I wanted a pointing dog I would get a pointing dog. Several times I have looked at GROUSE RIDGE KENNELS (home of GROUSE RIDGE WILL) and am considering a pup for my next dog. As for my retrievers I do not want dogs that point but do like dogs that give a hard flush.
 
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