E-collar and duck search

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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:31 pm

The duck search in NAVHDA seems to bring out the worst in e-collar usage. Most V-dogs don’t have the same temperament as, say, Labradors and, as a consequence, can’t take the pressure we sometimes put on them. Dogs can’t learn anything worth while when they’re put under stress, and can get really weird If they aren’t properly trained how to turn off pressure. Retriever folks have figured out how to deliver pretty hefty amounts, but they also have really mentally stable dogs (or they get rid of them) and go to great lengths to prepare them for the pressure. “Heating the bank”, or nicking to send the dog “back”, or “forcing to water”, or nicking for “popping”, or just wearing a collar on a collar-wise dog raises anxiety levels if not properly conditioned - besides not being fair to the dog.

Having run six UT’s and been to a few “training days” I know the pressure we put on ourselves to prize (especially the coveted Pz I ), and having trained dogs for forty years, I can safely say I’ve done my share of bad training practices through ignorance or anger so I’m not casting dispersions on anyone on this forum. Sending on sight blinds, salting the pond, releasing birds from floating life preservers, or dropping marks from drones all seem like decent ways to condition our dogs to do a better water search. Teaching the concept of "hunting dead" is also good.

You also have to wonder how well dogs do that are trained for the search on the same water they’re ultimately going to test on as opposed to those trained to hunt any water. A couple of years ago I trained with a group readying for the duck search and I think all six of us got 4’s in the search. It didn’t hurt that we all trained in the same place the test was held (but that’s another discussion). Anyway, hopefully NAVHDA discourages e-collar usage around duck search training.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:12 am

Not the greatest plan in the world to try to drive a dog with an ecollar when it hasn't been pushed back on a pile. Sometimes it can work, sometimes you create a "spinner", sometimes you create such a problem you have to start over. Don't do it.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby ryanr » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:14 am

Kiger2 wrote:Ryan,
You said "If your dog doesn't understand something, don't use the e-collar and hope it just "decides to do something different."

Then you said "instead meet it in the water and drive it back out physically and with low level stim. " Same paragraph.
I rest my case.


Once again, No Kiger I did not say what you are implying I said. I told him that instead of stimming the dog when it's coming back to you (because at that point it's likely coming back because it's become confused or unsure and his coming back to you, it's safe place) However the dog knows the command when it's sent for the search, it's proven that SO now you don't let the dog get back on land, you meet it in the water and resend it, driving it back out and with continuous low stim as you command it and drive it back out. So you're REINFORCING a known command with low level stim, as you did in training. I suggested it as a more effective means than just stimming the dog when it's swimming back to you and hoping it figures it out.

And to Bruce's point about e-collar overuse in duck search, with how we train we rarely use the e collar (except for a retrieve correction on an e-fetched dog) BUT one area where I've seen us need to use it (again, rarely) is a dog that gives up and comes back after a short search. But that's on a dog that knows duck search, not a young dog still figuring it out. We'll meet the dog at the water and drive it out. You can choose to use stim or not, I could care less and I assume people have the common sense to know what they need in accordance with their dog's training.

Again, its rare we use the e collar at all during duck search. Maybe we're lucky but most of the dogs can't wait to tear up a pond looking for ducks and go right back out and do it again. They've learned what's expected but it's been made fun for them. But I've seen it necessary on maybe 2 or 3 dogs at most that were giving up and just coming back despite knowing better. The dogs weren't fried either (why on earth do so many people assume using the e collar means you're cranking it up?) They were met at the water and driven back out, some with accompanying low level stim with the command, some command only as you drove them out. Now when you do this you better make sure the dog gets into a duck (I do not understand the idea that not finding a duck each time is a good thing.)

Now with this dog it almost sounds like maybe the dog has given its best effort and it's search is what it is. Tough call not seeing it but it's got 20 searches under it's belt.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby LongHammer » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:01 pm

This can all be avoided by only shooting ducks that are in the decoys. :twisted:
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:23 pm

Worth trying to get some clarity on this ecollar part of this thread I think.

GH posted that using it on a dog which has not been introduced to collar, FF and done FTP is a bad idea. I completely agree with all of that as I am sure all others do. I complete FF and FTP before I train on Duck Search. Ryan posted it is rare to use the ecollar and mentioned a specific area where it might come into play. I agree with both of those points, it is rare for me to use the ecollar while training Duck Search, but it could/does come into play.

Have completed FF and FTP prior to Duck Search, there are two areas I have made very sparing use on an ecollar while training on Duck Search. The first I posted before. When and if the dog drops a duck on the retrieve I will use very low level stimulation to correct the dropped bird until the dog gets the bird back into its mouth, just as I would in any other situation where an already FF'd dog drops a bird. I feel a dropped bird requires consistency in corrections as needed no matter what the situation, (as in all things in dog training).

The second potential area I might make use of an ecollar on a dog (already FF'd and FTP), is if the dog were to refuse a resend. This is like all other areas of dog training, it will depend on the dog and how it has been doing up to that point as well as how it is doing at the moment. I train Duck Search using methods to keep the dog happy and eager to go find a bird, dead or alive and that is always the goal. But if the dog has the proper foundation of FF and FTP and some prior Duck Search successes I will not allow it to refuse a resend, and will use low level ecollar stimulation to address that if and when it occurs. A dog with the noted prior foundational training refusing a resend is a sign to me that I have committed the training sin of boring the dog and I need to quit. But I will require the dog to go as commanded and then quit after it has retrieved another duck. I will not quit that training session with the dog refusing the resend I know it understood.

That all assumes I am not seeing any serious problems with the dog's demeanor at the time.

I have not seen anyone here post a large role for using an ecollar while training Duck Search. It is critical to work with and build the dog's joy and drive for the task vs using force. But properly used, with the necessary prior foundational training in place e.g. FF, FTP, Some Prior Duck Search, it is not out of the question that I might make appropriate use of an ecollar along the way.

Just wanting to keep lesser experienced folks reading along away from trouble, while also clarifying this is like any other use of an ecollar. It has to be done in the correct moments in the correct manner and then it is an excellent tool.

Bruce I agree a well trained dog will search water where ever you send it. I work the subject on many different waters to ensure the dog is ready to recover our ducks, which for me is the driving reason to train the subject.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby ryanr » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:27 pm

+1, big time.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby booger » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:44 pm

LongHammer wrote:This can all be avoided by only shooting ducks that are in the decoys. :twisted:


If I did that I'd have no need for a dog 8)
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby orhunter » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:15 pm

"boring the dog and I need to quit." That should be written in stone somewhere. I'm sure there are many out there who will say to push through the wall to get compliance with every command. Maybe some dogs but certainly not all dogs. The dog isn't necessarily winning if it refuses a command. Depends on how the dog is treated afterward. I think AG has it figured out.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby ryanr » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:33 pm

Yes Orhunter but did you read the very critical next part of AGs statement where he still will not let the dog quit if it is refusing the (known) command? He quits only immediately after the dog is resent and scores a duck.

On a related note, when I was first training steadiness, on the table, with my older dog after having done it correctly repeatedly and we were about to quite he suddenly decided that he was going to purposely disobey by just walking off the table. He did it over and over, very deliberately, he just walked off the table from where he was on Whoa. He didn't run away, just walked off the table and stopped. I said to my more experienced friend, well he had it before but I just think he's had enough. My friend said, you quit now after he refuses all you taught him was that he can beat you. Well, we kept at it, over and over and over, at least a dozen more times until he finally broke and stayed where he knew he was supposed to. I praises him and immediately ended the training session and we went and did something fun. It was a major breakthrough for me with his training the rest of the way too.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:47 pm

I also said it depended on how the dog had done and was doing at the time, including having had prior success in Duck Search. I would not force a send on a young dog which had not already done some successful Duck Searches in prior training sessions.

It is something I am glad to avoid altogether, but it did occur when training Spud when I was using multiple sends in a row, (which was driven by the training objective as well as me wanting to recover and reuse all my target ducks). When it happened his last search and retrieve just moments before had been a good one with good drive. I thought I could get another and so I sent him. He did not refuse but also did not cross the water again and instead started to search the bank he was being sent from which was a lower form of refusal. That is when I made some use of the ecollar at a low level with a Fetch Command. He got the point because he understood what was being asked of him. I would have preferred to avoid it altogether but neither my dog nor I are perfect, with him being much closer to it than I am.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby booger » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:29 pm

I feel I should mention that when I bought my first and "started" 3 year old dog, she would not retrieve a bumper (well not reliably at least). She had been hunted in the field, not for ducks and she had pretty minimal training. I was told she had been FF'ed on the table but not on the ground. Seeing that she'd go and get bumpers, I thought I could use the collar to reinforce that she did indeed need to go get the bumper. That didn't end up going well and I ended up starting FF over. I definitely had some holes in my training. She would also go get a bumper at 10' but not 20'. She'd see me throw it but then balk and spin on fetch. It was very hard for me to reconcile the additional 10' and seeing it, but not getting it or seemingly knowing what to even do (right after doing 10' perfectly). Not knowing any better I applied more pressure instead of backing up the distance and as you can imagine the problem only got worse. But part of the problem is confidence and the inability of my dog to handle pressure. More corrections = less confidence (with each correction) that eventually leads to "forgetting" known commands like sit. I realize now she ends up operating completely out of fear and is afraid to do anything and just wants to freeze or lay down. I was also given and took some bad advice about needing to make the dog do said command and to apply more pressure, or constant pressure until she complies. I mention this to help others (on what not to do), I'm not looking to be lectured, I know I screwed up.

So that's part of the back story and reason why I'm hesitant to force my dog to a pile. It took a while to get her to stop balking/popping/no gos/spinning through PR and I believe there is a decent risk there that FTP will start this up again. And since her natural reaction is to come back to me on stim, this seems like a bad idea.

Did a duck search last night and it went ok, not great on the resend. First time she went across 100 yard pond and found a live taped duck (we didn't plant) on the bank. But this was on a body of water I thought she'd do a phenomenal search on and do fine with a resend on (as she's done it before). I thought about doing what ryan suggested and just didn't have my waders on, I'll be trying that next time (without the stim). I might go back to the person in the kayak as well as she seems to need incentive to go further, but maybe just on the resend.

I work with a guy who's dog is very independent he's maybe done half as many searches as my dog and his dog naturally searches and expands extremely well. I tend to think cooperation in duck search is a detriment. My dog is cooperative to the point that I no longer have to say anything when she chases a rabbit in the yard, she'll get to the open gate and stop chasing without a command.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:33 pm

Duck search is different than a blind. On a blind you direct the dog to the bird. Doesn't matter if he WANTS to go or not, he knows he HAS to go. On a duck search, it's exactly opposite. The dog HAS TO WANT to find the duck. No amount of pressure will make him do that. It's the same as making a dog retrieve that doesn't want to. A dog like that will NEVER happily do the job and will blink birds when it can. A forced duck search can lead to the same thing. If I can get away with it, and I usually can, I will NEVER FORCE ON A DUCK SEARCH.

Chances are, if you lay the prep work thoroughly, then lay the same ground work for the duck search, you will never HAVE to force on it. A dog should WANT to find a bird, not HAVE to find a bird.

That's the difference between training for a blind and training for a duck search. If he WON'T SEARCH ON LAND HE WON'T SEARCH IN THE WATER. Others have said it on here and it bear's saying again: It's easier to teach search on land where it's sunny and dry than in the muck where it ain't.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:46 pm

Booger, I would use multiple live ducks, no ecollar and a kayak on a dog that you describe. Nothing wrong with you building the dog's confidence by leading it out with the kayak when needed. It takes as long as it takes with a dog that lacks confidence.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:21 pm

Agree with AG's advice. Since your dog's default with stimulation is recall, any pressure from the collar to have it go any other direction besides back to you will just cause anxiety - which you've noted. And it didn't sound like FF went smoothly either from previous posts. Likely you've had most success with PR so why not just stay with that? There's nothing wrong with praise and a treat to get success, and there's a lot written about how most training can be accomplished with PR.

You've obviously come a long ways with a dog that wasn't a clean slate when you got it, and, coupled with it being your first dog, you've had some trials. I'd say you're to be commended for your efforts. I'm of course wondering if you're training for the UT ... and if so, why? Some dogs take to the duck search with a vengeance and others not so much.

As you can tell I'm critical of a test that encourages us to game the system in order to be successful. Let us know how we can help.
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Re: E-collar and duck search

Postby ryanr » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:53 pm

Ah, the full story.
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