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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been working with Dutch, preparing for upland hunting this fall. As part of this I lay down scent trails for him to follow and ultimately retrieve the "bird" at the end. He does a great job. My question/concern is that after we are done playing the game he continues to run up and down the scent trail looking for more "birds" to find, sometimes for up to an hour after play.

Does this present any issues in demotivating his prey drive since there isn't the reward of a "bird" at the end of the trail?

Thanks!
 

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Does this present any issues in demotivating his prey drive since there isn't the reward of a "bird" at the end of the trail?
I would not worry about it. He will soon figure out the difference between old and new scent. It doesn't take long for a dog to realize pheasant roosters get shot and hens don't (they smell different).

If you have any fields nearby with birds, take him there and work on quartering and sit to flush and shot. Use a blank pistol and maybe a check cord depending on the dog.
Teach sit to shot in the yard first.

A great training opportunity would be when Dutch is playing on the scent trail. Get someone to help you. Shoot a blank pistol and when he sits have the helper throw a bird. Don't allow him to break and make him sit promptly. He should get the idea to quickly sit and look for a bird at the sound of a shot.
 

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I think I would just remove him from the field so he knows hunting is over
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice!

I do have access to birds and fields as a member of the local hunt club. Have been working on the bird/gun introduction there and doing well. I'll get working on the sit to flush and shot.

Definitely leave the field when at the club, but when we trail in the backyard (I have roughly 3 acres) sometimes we don't go right back inside. But may help to remove him for a period directly after trailing.
 

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Teaching sit to flush.
With a bird launcher similar to this. You can get expensive remote controlled ones or build a crude one yourself as I did.

Put a pigeon in the launcher with a 15 foot string tied to its leg and the launcher.
When your dog "flushes" the bird, make him sit. A dog that will sit with a bird swirling around 15 feet overhead is steady to flush.

Keep this a positive teaching/training drill and don't expect perfection the first few times.
Corrections should be very mild or done in a separate yard drill for steadiness.

884252

Steadiness to flush and shot can be tricky. You don't want to risk making the dog think it is wrong to flush a bird.
It is very important that a dog is rock solid on sit to whistle and/or shot before attempting to teach sit on flush.

With an experienced pheasant dog I don't care if they sit, as long as they don't chase the bird. Jake has retrieved many pheasants and flushed many more. On a shot bird he will often jump from cover of move toward it a short distance to mark the fall. That is okay as he knows the concept and his intent is to mark, not break. I always make him sit before sending to retrieve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@SRW - Appreciate the information.

If you don't mind I'm going to pick your brain a bit as this is my first experience with training for hunting...

Do you think it's a bad strategy to hunt the first year on solid, core skills and then during the off season before year 2 work on the finishing concepts? <-- This was going to be my plan.

These are the "core" skills I was working towards:
  • Reliable recall (and collar conditioned)
  • "Hunt 'em up" in appropriate range and quartering
  • Reliable retrieve to hand including solid hold, soft mouth
  • Using of scent/trailing and not just visually locate
  • Obviously gun conditioned, exposure to birds and always reinforcing basic obedience
With that said, should those steadiness behaviors be included?

Thanks!
 

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@SRW - Appreciate the information.

If you don't mind I'm going to pick your brain a bit as this is my first experience with training for hunting...

Do you think it's a bad strategy to hunt the first year on solid, core skills and then during the off season before year 2 work on the finishing concepts? <-- This was going to be my plan.

These are the "core" skills I was working towards:
  • Reliable recall (and collar conditioned)
  • "Hunt 'em up" in appropriate range and quartering
  • Reliable retrieve to hand including solid hold, soft mouth
  • Using of scent/trailing and not just visually locate
  • Obviously gun conditioned, exposure to birds and always reinforcing basic obedience
With that said, should those steadiness behaviors be included?

Thanks!
The "core" skills you are working on are appropriate IMO.
For teaching to quarter in range I use soft chirps with a whistle and/or beeps on the collar. Use check cord if needed, I prefer that they are solid enough on recall that it isn't necessary.
Start out walking in a zig zag and transition to more subtle hand signals. I don't demand a strict windshield wiper pattern, I like to let a dog hunt and use their nose.
You will find that little training is needed for trailing and locating game. It is a good exercise for puppies but they soon learn the difference between a laid scent trail and a crippled bird.

If "finishing concepts" means steady to flush and shot, I prefer to enforce that from the start. It is much easier for a dog to learn steady from the beginning than to have it sprung on him after being allowed to break for a period of time. If your dog truly knows that the whistle means sit, it will not be a big issue. He will probably test you, just maintain the same standards when hunting as you would in training.
I view pretty much everything, especially hunting, as a training opportunity.
 

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Your dog will have a "tell" when they are on a scent. Maybe their tails goes straight up and is rigid. Maybe their tail wags really short and fast and just vibrates. You'll be able to learn by watching your dog work on what to watch out for. Getting in tune with your dog is important to making sure you have your shotgun up and ready in time.
 
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Getting in tune with your dog is important to making sure you have your shotgun up and ready in time.
This is also the best part of upland bird hunting.

If you train you retriever to sit on flush and or shot, it is very likely that the dog will stop when on a bird. This isn't a true point and diehard pointer people will gladly tell you so. It works the same though. Your dog knows a bird is close and stops in anticipation of the flush.
 

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This is also the best part of upland bird hunting.

If you train you retriever to sit on flush and or shot, it is very likely that the dog will stop when on a bird. This isn't a true point and diehard pointer people will gladly tell you so. It works the same though. Your dog knows a bird is close and stops in anticipation of the flush.
I have a true pointing golden. Riot I have tried so hard to break him of pointing. But he will not flush until I tell him. And he will stay on point until I get to him. Drives me crazy! I can’t run him in spaniel hunt tests or NAHRA senior tests because of his darn point. So now I go with the flow and walk up to him, then tell him to flush. He’s an excellent marker so the bird could be anywhere and he’d find it.

On the other hand there is a theory that if the dog chases and doesn’t sit on the flush, your dog will have a better time finding the winged bird. Which my Lucy never ever sat on the flush. But she would chase a bird for 1/2 a mile and come up with it. You just had to watch her so she didn’t get shot.

I think so much depends on what you are hunting. I don’t have pheasants. I have grouse and ptarmigan. Ptarmigan hold tight. Grouse all depend on the type. Sharptail do a nice flush. Spruce grouse will not do much and maybe hop in a tree nearby. We train with chukar. You all have entirely different birds down your way. I’ve never hunted pheasants. Don’t know what my dogs would do with them.
 

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On the other hand there is a theory that if the dog chases and doesn’t sit on the flush, your dog will have a better time finding the winged bird. Which my Lucy never ever sat on the flush. But she would chase a bird for 1/2 a mile and come up with it. You just had to watch her so she didn’t get shot.
That is a theory but not true in my experience. A stationary dog will mark a difficult and or long fall better than a dog racing toward a bird. A dog that chases after the first bird shot (or shot at) won't be able to mark a second or third bird shot either.
It's a safety issue also, especially when hunting near roads, fences, etc.
We always talk about maintaining a standard in training. I don't know anyone that wants their dog to break on marks in training, at tests and trials or in a duck blind. Why abandon the standard when upland hunting?

Just my thoughts on it, how anyone hunts if fine by me.

I will say that I would rather hunt with your Riot than a dog that passed last weekends NAHRA senior. He would do fine on pheasant.
 
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