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  1. #1

    Default Must Come

    Hello all,
    I am throwing yet another fairly specific question out into the forum for everyone to chew on for a bit. I recently read Bill Tarrant's book that highlights the Delmar Smith Method of training a gun dog. I am confused not only from this book, but from just about every other dog training book I have read (approaching 15 different titles now) on the issue of having your dog off leash, and in control. My little pup (almost 6 months old) is very responsive to "Come" when on the check cord. In fact she will come 100% of the time if the check cord is being used. However, if I am out on a walk in the woods with her off leash and having a great time just running around being a puppy, I can no longer get her to respond to "Come." My suspicion is that she knows all to well what that check cord means and when she doesn't really have to listen. I imagine many dog owners have experienced this same problem before.
    So, the advice I am looking for here is how one goes about transitioning into "Must Come" ---where the dog will come when off leash 100% of the time.
    Right now I am using treats and lots of praise to reward her every time she comes to me, on leash or off. However, like I said before, when she is off running around and playing my rewards and praise (from Come work) don't seem to enter her mind.

    Thanks in advance to everyone who responds,

    Jason

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    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    sent you a pm

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    Ok, I'll bite first. I've said it before, I'll say it now. There are 3 steps to train a dog; teach, train, test. Teaching is showing. It is repeating over and over the proper response. It is done slowly, without pressure, and must be built on positives. Training is reinforcing what the dog has learned. It is done after the dog is very solid in that specific concept you have taught. Training is the reinforcement of the command, done in positive vs negative methods. Training often times uses "pressure". Do not misconstrue that as punishment or discipline, though it may incorporate corrections. In this case, you might teach come with small games; 2 people on either end of a hallway, 2 people on either end of an enclosed walkway, treats. This works better on young dogs that do not know any difference. The training comes w/ the lead, leash, or check cord. You "make" the dog do what you command. Simply, they never get to say "no".
    You need to teach and train in fairly sterile environments just to help the dog out. He is not ready for distraction. Remember, if you have to correct a lot, you are doing something wrong. You only test when you are 100% certain that the dog knows exactly what you want in that training area. You only test rarely. Assuming he tests well, then you go back to training, on lead or under control. Too many people think that if their dog responds to a command in the back fenced yard, they'll do the same elsewhere. WRONG ANSWER!!!!! If you take him to the woods, off leash, expect him to fail. And now you taught him a bad thing. He did not do it, you did. Now you have to break a bad habit.
    The best way to train is never lose control. Sure, it is going to happen on occasion, but you'd better have a plan to fix it. And when it happens, you'd better not repeat it, or you just trained him to do the wrong thing. That sounds like what you have done. It is fixable. It will take some time, but in the meantime I'd never let him off lead, and I'd never say come unless I could make him do it.
    Go back to the back yard on lead. Make him 100% perfect. Then add distractions. Train him to be 100% all the time. When he has that, then go to a new place and start over. Then add distractions. Keep repeating that over and over and over; new place, new distractions. If he gets it after all the new places, and all the new distractions on lead, then go back to the back yard and see where you stand. I am talking weeks here, not a few days.
    And if you are going to tell me that right now, in the yard, on lead, he'll be perfect, I am willing to bet not. Assuming he likes birds all I'll have to do is throw a banty rooster in front of him after you've called him. Again, 100% all the time. That is the goal.
    Best of luck,
    ARR

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    http://www.gundogbreeders.com/dog-tr...puptocome.html

    This isn't super detailed, but just a quick little read.

  5. #5

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    Thank you all for your advice,

    I wanted to clarify my initial post, if only to attempt to coverup how much of a greenhorn I am to training sporting dogs.
    As mentioned earlier, my Setter is reponding 100% to commands (Heel, Come, Whoa and Stay) in the yard with many distractions. AK River Rat, you may be right that I need to introduce more tempting distractions, like bird scented bumpers or frozen birds, to induce my pup to break command in the yard. Admittedly, this may be where I am failing my pup. So, thank you for that correction River Rat. I appreciate any and all advice.
    As for the suggestion of never allowing pup to be off leash until she is 100% in the yard with numerous distractions and in the field with the same distractions seems suspect to me. I am not questioning anyone's experience on this matter I am merely reiterating what I have read from numerous training books. Specifically, Delmar Smith suggests allowing pup to spend his/her first year having "Happy Timing" at home and in the field (hell, he even allows pup to chase birds around that first year!). Also, Joan Bailey suggests letting very young gun dogs spend ample time off leash just being a pup weather at home or in the field. I have always questioned this approach of letting our dogs run free for an entire year and then begin training...because this would only work against our eventual training of the pup. I would like to hear what others think about Delmar Smith's philosophy in particular. Am I missing his point?
    I am a fortunate soul who has enough free time in the afternoons to take my pup on hikes in the woods or up mountains nearly every day for excercise. And excercise is very important for me personally, and I suppose it isn't too bad for the dog either. Is keeping her on a check cord every day really the best way? How would she learn to be independent (meaning, not overly dependent on Boss?) if we always walk either in heel or with no more than 30 feet between us?

    Finally. I want to say thanks to Sameyer, River Rat and Hoyt for responding to my original post. I appreciate hearing everyone's personal views on dog training and I frequently question my own ideas on training after getting some thoughtful responses from folks who have been at this a while. Thanks for entertaining my questions and helping me to be a better trainer!

    Cheers!

    Jason

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    Spent yesterday fly fishing and came home beat, so I'm a bit late to this party. Excellent discussion. I'll just add how dogs are very place oriented so what pup does in the yard does not usually carry over to the field. I typically let pup drag a check cord in the field so I can catch him and reel him in. I'll also hide on him and teach him to hunt for me. Eventually I'll also drop a training bird near me and pup gets the idea that life around me is pretty good. Lastly, I'll condition pup to the e-collar. Got to run. Make everything fun for pup. Keep us posted on your progress, and this is work in progress for many years. Photos of the little miscreant are appreciated!Jim

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    I agree would love to see some photos! I cannot comment on Delmar’s knowledge, because although I am familiar with who he is, I don't know a ton about his training methods. He was a pretty successful trainer though so there must be something to his training methods! Maybe put a call into your breeder, or to a pro trainer, and just ask them a few questions about how they handle this situation!

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    I'll just add how dogs are very place oriented so what pup does in the yard does not usually carry over to the field.
    I want to repeat what Jim McCann said. If you only train in the yard, do distraction training etc. you will have a very well trained dog in the yard. Take him somewhere else and you'll wonder who this hellion is and what did he do with your trained dog? The Dobbs (retriever trainers) used to say you needed to train the dog to a high level in 5 different places for them to generalize the training to different areas. I'm not going to say they are wrong.

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    Great responses. When I take young dogs out of the yard, and intend to let them roam, which I too believe is good for them, I try like double heck to not set them or me up for failure by giving commands I can not enforce. I do try to do lead training prior to these great outdoor opportunities in those areas. I want them to know that the rules are always the same. Life is simple. Come is come wherever we are.
    When the time comes for them to be off lead, or off control, treats, games like hide and seek, getting down on your knees for play time, all encourage the dog to come find you. When the dog is focused on you, then use the command. You telling that dog to come while his nose is full of hare or bird or other scent is like telling a young boy to do something while his head is stuck in a book or eyes glued to the TV.
    If the dog is game crazy, say loves a tennis ball, use game words in the yard while playing, so that when he is out away from you he recognizes those words. That will help get him to focus. Whoop Whoop! Happy Dog! Whatever you want. Get him to look and focus on you. Now you have a better chance to get him to respond to the command.
    If you give him a COME command and he does not do it, he should get an instant correction such as NO, then give him a SIT command. I hate repeating a command the dog has already refused.
    Sometimes it is hard to get across the flow of how to handle situations like this in writing. I hope some of it makes sense. Remember, TEACH, TRAIN, then test. You are building the foundation. You have to connect the dots to ensure that he knows and understands what each command is, and that it is always to be obeyed.
    ARR

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    Ok, here's one more tip that has worked good for me and any dog I might attempt to train. I learned this while training horses. If I showed up at the barn to ride a particular young horse, or any horse I'd not ridden before I would spend a few minutes on the ground making the horse do some things for me on a lead rope (check cord?) before swinging a leg over the horn. I was just trying to get the horse's attention, get his mind straight and keying on me. Even prevented some rodeos at cow camp in the Idaho mountains when using tough old ranch horses. don't just let your dog race away from the truck and run hell for leather without first getting him focused on you. Have him do some check cord work first, remind pup about the lessons he has learned elsewhere and make sure he complies.Jim

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    All good stuff. I agree with ARR......repeating commands isn't a good idea. It desensitizes the dog to that command (assuming the dog knows the command). Read this good article from Delmar’s son Rick: http://www.huntsmith.com/articles/is...-commands.html
    Remember be consistent in your dogs training.

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    I have not read every post here word for word, so I may be repeating and/or misunderstanding...
    as mentioned above training in a variety of places is important...I use three locations as a rule of thumb...I want to see 100% compliance in three different locations before I can say the dog knows the command/expectation.
    Also, a thought...did you go from check cord to total freedom? Try letting the dog drag the check cord in the field without you attached to it...they feel the slight resistance yet not the full on connection to you...this is an intermediate step to to total freedom.

    As far as letting pups be pups for the first year, I completely believe and agree with the various authors who promote this. I have done this with all my pointing dog pups. They need to learn to learn and make decisions independently, much different than what is expected from most of the retrievers. That does not mean that you do not do yard work though.
    I am not sure I can put my thoughts into writing...it is easier to do than describe in writing ....going to an area where it is as safe as can be for the dog and letting them run without the need to call them in to you during the younger stages. You can "sing" to them as Delmar suggests to keep them in contact, but dont bother commanding them to come yet. Most pups are not going to run into the next county, they are going to keep track of daddy more so than you think. As said above, when they come looking for you, and they will eventually, then use the cajoling/praise and treats to condition the pup to come to you without repeating the command. Occasionally sitting down quietly and letting them find/come to you works too.

    Setters AK, where do you live and work and play? (use PM if you prefer)

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    I've raised and trained a dozen or so dogs, maybe 20 counting the older rescues. Before about 13 mos old or with a rescue 2-3 mos in the new home I wouldn't expect complete obedence to "come" because it usually takes longer than that. I take out 4 different breeds of dogs to train and all together for runs in a field, through woods and to ponds. I never, never go out without each one on an e-collar. I want them to use their nose, to explore but I also want to protect them and make sure they listen to me. For each there was a process to get from longline control to off line and an e-collar alone. Granted, there are times that a collar dies or with the Saluki, sometimes the collar does not effect him at top speed, but for the most part I'm never going to depend on a voice command alone outside of competition. 6 mos is not too soon for an e-collar and my preference is an inexpensive Dogtra with a vibrate mode. It's small, easy to use and comes in a 2 dog unit for $300. Since it does not get heavy use this one works fine and the lowest levels are very low, like a tickle on my palm with the high level hot enough to make me drop it. When they return I make sure to praise them making by me the best place to be.

    Here's a thought though, maybe you dont want a knee-jerk response to "come" all the time - If your hunting or in a competition and 1- think the dog has the bird or 2- think the dog is in the wrong place (but is right on the bird) would you rather the dog blow off your whistle and pick up the bird or listen to you and come leaving the bird in the field? In one case you just feel stupid for a minute, in the other you loose and go home empty handed. Sometimes when I really pushed training a recall and goofed in handling, my dog would stop dead on a hot trail. When I'd realize my mistake it was hard to get them back there to get the bird. Thats why I like this particular collar. I give them one call, if they don't respond I wait a couple seconds. If I think they are really on a bird I let it slide. If I see that they are just goofing around, rolling in a dead animal or eating moose poop I give them a vibrate. Usually thats all it takes and I don't rattle them so much and still let them think.

    I like what Burke said about letting the pups be pups. I've seen and raised a few dogs who were too dependent on me telling them what to do. I think after easing up on Lucy for the last 5 years she has become a very independent thinker. We don't compete so I have the luxury of letting her hunt a bit on a blind if I forget where they are and not caring if she blows off a sit whistle. I think people are creating dependent robots screwing down puppies too soon.

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    Gee Linda, I think there is a difference between a young dog needing to know the basics, needing a good foundation, and a veteran team of hunter and dog. I am sticking in this case w/ the "knee jerk" reaction to come when called. He does not know enough yet to warrant blowing off a command.
    After the basics are taught and reinforced, and their teamwork builds, at some point the handler will need to learn those subtle clues that a dog can give, and learn to trust that dog. I don't see that being the case yet.
    ARR

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    [QUOTE=Ak River Rat;967285]Gee Linda, I think there is a difference between a young dog needing to know the basics, needing a good foundation, and a veteran team of hunter and dog. I am sticking in this case w/ the "knee jerk" reaction to come when called. He does not know enough yet to warrant blowing off a command.
    After the basics are taught and reinforced, and their teamwork builds, at some point the handler will need to learn those subtle clues that a dog can give, and learn to trust that dog. I don't see that being the case yet.
    ARR[/QUOTE

    Doesn't it always come to this, every "dog trainer" has "the answer." If you screw down a setter pup like that then you may as well not have one, unless you want a robot that won't teach you a **** thing about hunting birds, which is in fact the joy of partnering with one of these amazing animals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ak River Rat View Post
    Gee Linda, I think there is a difference between a young dog needing to know the basics, needing a good foundation, and a veteran team of hunter and dog. I am sticking in this case w/ the "knee jerk" reaction to come when called. He does not know enough yet to warrant blowing off a command.
    After the basics are taught and reinforced, and their teamwork builds, at some point the handler will need to learn those subtle clues that a dog can give, and learn to trust that dog. I don't see that being the case yet.
    ARR
    I agree. Big difference between a weathered vet, and a pup.

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    Of course, a lot of this depends on when a person uses the command to "Come" or "Here." That's where the check cord comes in. If your pup is running about and having a blast of a time, say for example, out on the tundra or in a big field of grass, he is likely to ignore a single command shouted from afar. Hollering and carrying on is of little use. Don't give a command you can't enforce. When pup comes near grab hold of the check cord and issue the command and reel him in if you have to. As the pup matures he will come to you because he wants to, he craves your company and your praise. Because I eventually move a pup into a e-collar some will say the collar is a crutch and my dogs won't come to me without it. Not so. Not one bit. I use the e-collar as a long distance check cord when the dog is young, and mostly as a way to use a remote beeper when they are older, but hardly every have to use the electric...except to use it mildly on my 14 year old deaf dog to get his attention, or to persuade a dog that porcupines or grizzlies are not to be messed with.

    Even a well trained dog will disobey and go off on an adventure now and then. Many years ago that really bothered me, but I've come to understand it and deal with it. Anyone who knows me well might describe me in a similar manner. But keep in mind how all dogs (and horses and people and such) are different and might require a different approach to the same problem.

    I know one thing for certain: Severely scold and maybe even strike a dog that returns from an off-cord adventure and you're in for more problems. Just contain your anger and put the returning miscreant up and be glad he is safe. Tomorrow is another day.

    These discussions are helpful, but only you, the dog owner, can watch your dog, see how it responds to training, and know what is best for your dog.

    Jim

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    well said...jim

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    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses and a lively debate! In processing your responses I believe I am getting a clearer picture of what to expect from 6 month pup. I have recently taken by pup on a series of day hikes out near where I am currently located (east of Tok, near Northway) and I have tried some different approaches to see what I liked best. Day 1.) I let pup run with the 30' check cord on her for the entire hike. She doesn't seem to mind this and the cord is really stiff so there was little chance of it getting warpped up in the bushes. On this particular hike I only ever opened my mouth to give a command when that check cord was within reaching distance. Otherwise, I was completely silent. I was pleased with the results and had some great teachable moments with the pup as I was able to work on "come to call" and "come to whistle" in different locations. True enough, she was not interested in coming about every other time I gave a command (as predicted) but with the check cord in hand I was able to enforce that command given.
    Day 2) Pup ran free up in the tundra (with no other dogs or humans around) for about 3 hours. She got into plenty of Ptarmigan and several small groups of juncos. There is no doubt that her intensity on birds and for birds is outstanding. On this hike pup was only wearing a bell and no check cord. Therefore, I did not say much on this hike but instead handed the pup a treat whenever she can near to check in with me. When we got close to the truck near the end of the hike I put pup on a leash and walked her in in "heel".
    I see now that trying to get control of the pup on this hike would have been extremely unlikely.
    Day 3) Pup started out on the check cord for the first 30 minutes but then moved on to just running free with the bell on. Later in the day pup was checking in more regularly and still getting in to lots of Ptarmigan and various passerines.
    My next training question is this: My pup is chasing Ptarmigan and every other bird that comes in range of her nose. I have no way of intervening during these chase sessions other than to prevent it from happening in the first place by keeping pup on that check cord and next to me. This, I suppose, limits her excercise and does not allow her to explore the world of scent that lies off trail. So, this issue seems pretty black and white to me...either see gives chase and eventually learns that she cannot catch these birds or she stays on the end of a rope near boss and has a limited experience on the human foot path.
    I understand the dangers about letting a dog truly run free (I had a husky at one point that got into porcupines repeatedly). But the experience gained from running about seems much more valuable than anything I can provide on the end of a check cord for a 4 hour hike.
    Eventually though, running free without limitations has to be contained to a degree otherwise pup would learn to scare up all the birds long before I get to her location. What methods seems succesful in reeling in that "run everywhere enthusiasm" and teaching your dog to work closer to boss? I realize that I am a ways off from teaching this, but it is never too early to start chewing it over.


    I will open the floor to your thoughts and ideas. \Also, I apologize about not posting any photos but I am really inept with computers and camera technology. I do have photos of pup on my computer, but when I try to post them they are absolutely huge! MB's not in KB's. Any generic strategies available for reducing the size of a photo before posting it?


    Jason Croft -
    Setters AK

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    Setters Ak,

    Congratulations! You and pup are moving in the right direction. Pup is in fact learning how it cannot catch those ptarmigan! Does pup offer to point at all? The light will come on eventually; probably quite soon. When she points, talk soothingly to her, pet her, staunch her up, tell her softly how she is the finest dog that ever lived.

    Now go back to your yard training with that check cord. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Fun. Fun. Fun. Then take pup to another place (not on birds) and do your yard training there. Same stuff, over and over.

    Keep up what you are doing. Sounds like you two are doing just fine! Report back, please.

    I suspect the ptarmigan you are working pup on are quite young. How young?

    Jim

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