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Reinforcing Whoa

This question/answer is blended. The question parts are in regular fonts while the answers are in bold.

I have a 9 month old brittany. I felt he was ready for his first birds so I made a remote releaser and got some pigeons. The first one I let him chase and eventually he caught it. I did this because he did not show any interest in birds.

Bill, What you did above is the right thing to do as Martha Stewart would say. Young dogs chase birds. It is a fact of life of any pointing dog. Young dogs that don't show mcuh interest can gain desire by chasing. But also be aware that some dogs do not show much interest in pigeons. AND it was the dog's first bird as you told me.

I used the remote release for the second pigeon. The dog pointed the bird, Pointing the second bird is great. Tells me the dog is wiling to learn and has the desire needed to go further. I said "stay" and activated the releaser, the top opened but the pigeon did not fly. I walked up to the bird and it flew about 5 ft. and landed on the ground. Thru all this the dog did not move, he was very excited and I knew he wouldn't hold much longer. I gave him the release command thinking the pigeon would fly off and reinforce the fact he needed me to get birds. The dog was onto the bird before it could fly away. I got the dog off the bird and it flew away. the fact the bird did fly leads me to believe it was healthy. I am happy the dog obeyed "stay" and did not maul the bird but are pigeons the correct birds to use?

Okay let's stop here a while. First just because the dog stayed put after giving it a command does not mean the dog is trained. I am afraid what will happen after the dog sees more birds is that your total steadiness will go right out the window. Remember pointing is by instinct and use of nose while steadiness is trained!

So how do you go about this? My first suggestion is to contact a local NAVHDA chapter in your area. (Try Try to attend any chapter training session you can find. Second I would try reading a few books. There are several but I like the NAVHDA "Green Book" as a training source of information. Third get your dog used to a check cord which is a 25 to 40 ft of stout rope that is hooked to a pinch collar of the dog. Run the dog with the cord at all times. The dog will get used to it and never know it is there and it gives you a 30 to 40 foot chance to grab the leash when things go sour. And they will as you have a young dog.

The Green book does show a check cord and a pinch collar. it also demonstrates one method for teaching many coomands especially the command "Whoa." Please do you hoemwork ehre before proceeeding to this next step. Pigeons. Great source for cheap training. I like to use pigeons as they are easy to get and you don't need a special permit. I have worked on a steadiness drill that we do with pigeons quite often. We plant a pigeon in the field trying to use the wind to our advantage. We then let the dog (check cord attached) work into this tehtered planted bird and hopefully establish point. If not we then 'Whoa;' dog. Once on point or whoaed we 'suit-case' the dog. By this I mean: Leave the check cord attached to the pinch collar and run the check cord down the back of the dog. Right before the haunches over and under the belly of the dog make a loop with the excess check cord that is long enough to go around the belly of the dog so you can bring back to the check cord runnning down the back. Now hold this loop with your left hand where the rope runs dow the back and use your right hand on the collar check cord attachment. You should have a handle that with your right hand (positoned at the collar) you can snap back on the pinch collar exerting force while you calmly say the word "whoa". If the dog tries to lunge you can totally pick the dog up because opf the check cord handle and put the dog back down on all fours - again saying whoa!. (You'll need a partner here). The tethered bird. We use a piece of small diameter nylon rope that is tied to the pigeons legs. To this rope a good piece of rubber hose is attached. We use enough hose so that if we toss the pigeon in the air it will fly but just for a short distance. We also use the hose to bounce the bird along teasing the dog to move so you the trainer can re-inforce the whoa command. It is your partner's job to make the dog break any way he can. It is your job to re-inforce the command. You will see dog get interested, then bored. They will bark. you stop this by a snap of the pinch collar and say whoa. They will try to sit down upon where you lift the dog up and place back down on all fours saying whoa. Once the dog does not fight you any more then add an extra distraction such as a blank shot. Or we also use several other birds being released as I toss the tethered bird. Once your dog gets steady and it will if you take your time. You can drop the belly handle and move in front of the dog. Again if the dog moves go back and put it back in place saying whoa. Keep your sessions short and always end on a postive note. you will find at some times it will get frustrating but always look for a postive note to stop on and then come back later and try again. Good obedience training is very very very boring and repetititve. Just because your young dog did stay put on the second bird does not mean it is trained. What it is really telling me that this dog has lots of promise. But again a NAVHDA chapter training session is worth it weight in dog food! (Smile)

Should I have tried to flush the bird more?

No not at this time

Are there advantages to trapping your own "wild" pigeons instead of buying birds that are used to being around people?

Yes getting you own birds are cheaper and they can be shot later when you need to shoot a bird while homing pigeons are great but you don't want to shoo these. would quail make a better training bird? No as most quail are poor flying birds. I like to use pigeons and then maybe a chukar or two.

I would appreciate any advice you could give me. This is my first dog and I'm finding my way as I go. thank you.
- Bill C.

Hey, I am glad you asked. How did I learn? It was through NAVHDA so I can't say enough about them. So Good luck Bill - keep me posted

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