HELP! German Shorthair training....
Long story short,my brother pickewd one up froma breeder and sent her to me,she's now 5 months old and he said she has pointed before,but I have yet to see her and I need help in how do I go about training her for upland game?
I know how to train labs,but this pointer problem is different for me and dont know how to go about it.I would love to get her going by the time Aug 10th rolls around.Thanks for any help.Daniel
I don't know where she is at but the key is repetition & exposure to birds. Also do you know if she has been shot over yet. If not think about gettting a starter pistol, & start slowly. Get her exicited so she doesn't notice the noise & shouldn't get spooked. If you can find any pigeons, or quail around to keep in a small pen that would be great to help train her. You can resuse the birds by teathering their leg, using a small piece of string & tying on cardboard, or a soda bottle. You don't need to shoot the birds very often when just starting. Every now & then it is good but it takes a while to get to that stage. Check cords are a must as well. There are a lot of good books out there & sportsmans whse has a lot of training aids as well. If you will be by yourself you may won't to purchase a bird launcher as well.( kind of spendy ) Don't know if there are any clubs up there, we have two down here. The arctic bird dog club out of Anch. will run there hunt test in August & if you are arond that would be a good time to come down to the valley & check it out. Good people, helpful & sharing of information. Hopefully there are some folks up there that will help as well.
This is just a lot of rambling but I can try & be of more help when you know what stage the dog is at.
Even though my pointer is now 5 we still keep a small pen of quail in the backyard.
Have fun & she will need a coat for the colder conditions up there. When the stop moving they will get cold.
Don't have a pointer, but have heard of people tying a wing to the line of a fishing pole. let her chase the wing around and get all excited, then try resting it on the ground. If she tries to pounce on it pull it way just before she gets it. If she locks up on point as it is resting on the ground reward her by letting her catch it.
That may help get the mechanics going, but nothing beats training with real birds! There are a few places that a guy can get pigions from.
Marmot.....Thanks a million bud.You know I can teach my labs all that with the training books I have and the classes I enrolled them in,but all that is way different from the pointing,I wish I knew someone who strictly trained with pointers,know what I mean? but that tidbit about a coat man thanks I'd never thought of that cause the labs again are so adaptable already.I have a bunch of grouse wings in the freezer and just exposed her to that yesterday.....she did great and did not want to quit.Think shes a little hard mouth becasue shes excited and hasnt had a wing in her mouth until yesterday,but that Ill work on.
Frenchy,thanks dude,I was trying to figurte out how to get a wing placed and walka round to see if she would point,but I like that fishing pole scenario,In-fact Im gonna go try that now
Thanks for opening my eyes a little there fellas.Daniel
p.s. Ill see If I can get a pic of her pointing if anything worksd out.
If you want shoot me a pm & I can give you my # . If you know anyone coming down here I would give you a quail or two to keep around & use. Also there are little things I can remember that take to long to write.
Like always bring the pup upwind to the scent / bird / wing & when the get the scent ( you will know ) keep the check cord tight so they don't creep on in. If they get to close you can pick them up & back them up a couple feet then set the down & keep the cord taught so they hold. Also this is a good time to work on styling the point if you want all the time while praising them.
Jumping back to the coat thing, because short hairs typically have such big barrell chests the neoprene coats you would use for labs don't work well. They need to be cut & sewn or they will really chaf them in the arm pit. We have a couple differen kinds, one which is custom made using measurements by a lady who makes mostly greyhound coats. K9topcoats makes a good orange vest. Our favorite coat was the pull over sweatshirt type worked great but I can't find them anymore. The sweatshirt pullover however tend to drag in rain & snow & will fill up & trap snow in the belly area so you have to watch this if out in deep snow.
Good luck having it finished by the 10th, the worst thing you can do is rush the training. I would focus on obedience first and then once she knows your in control then focus on hunting. Whoaing should be your first priority after obedience as that is what teaches them a non-slip point other wise you'll have a creeper and a flusher. Using wings are ok to get your dog used to the scent but will become a game to her and thats what you don't want and it sounds like she already has a nose for the scent so I would work her on live birds and not wings after her obedience and whoaing. once she whoas without slipping ( by using a short checkcord ) then work her on live birds with a long checkcord, spruce grouse are great for this as they'll sit tight and allow your dog to get close. Whoa her on a check cord and if you have to kneel down and hold her while the bird is in front of her while telling her to whoa, eventually she will do this on her own without you telling her to whoa thats why it's imortant to teach her to whoa first. You should have a non-slip pointer after this, I drive the backroads looking for spruce grouse and then let the bird walk into the woods before working the dog on a checkcord. If you want a good pointer I would fore-go this hunting season and concentrate on training for next year and you'll have a good pointer and a better relationship with your dog. If you have anymore questions feel free to ask.
Thunder Chicken man your talking my language now,Thats how I felt after yesterdays trial on her.I absolutly said the same thing you just did to the wife,I told her I really need to just work on her obedience etc... and go from there.
Im going to try on her whoa with a wing on the ground and keep her from getting to it like you said and keep whoaing her,that should work a little for now?
I do need to find a live bird tho,hmmm its a long drive to Anchorage for one,but might be worth it,Id hate to see a bred dog from a good loine go to waste,and I found out my brother just wnats her to stay here as she's better off with me than him,so wahoo! a free bird dog for me.Thanks alot guys for the help.Daniel
SOme one said it earlier...the worst thing IMHO is to rush the training. You need to let the pup learn to learn while exposing it to as many situations as possible, with birds when possible. I usually do some "yard work" meaning obedience at home for short periods, just like with the retriever. Heel, come and eventually whoa. Then I let it bump and chase and have fun for the first year of hunting. The dog, if well bred, has the instincts. When he starts to show them in the field on his own...then you can start serious training. I have never used the wing on the string...if possible wild birds are the best teacher of young dogs. I will send you a PM as well. There are lots of resources....
You can't set deadlines for dogs. She'll learn when it's time. Don't rush it. If you're rushing the training, you're setting yourself up to fail. Let her be a dog. She'll figure it out when it's the right time.
I always tell everybody to get a copy of Ben Williams' book "Bird Dog: The Instinctive Training Method". It completely changed the way I train. And it was really really easy. Not as fast, but with fewer failures, and definitely a lot more fun. And I think the current results are better than what I would have gotten with my normal training methods. Ben talks about Brittanies in his book, but the concepts apply to other breeds plenty good.
Burke and Schloss,thanks for the input.IM starting to see this as just like Scholl said take my time like I have with my Labs.She does come from a good line and If ya'll are interested in looking here is where I picked her up from.
Good looking dogs
Try Jim McCann. He was working over at the Dodge dealer. He does a lot of grouse hunting, wrote a book, and works with brittanies. He may be of some help and/or have names in Fbks/NP area that can help.
Look up Karen Wilson in the book. She has been instrumental in the Fairbanks Retriever Club for years. They have another trial coming up. I don't know what they have for birds (probably ducks) but she may have some connections for pigeons or something from a past Hunt Test.
From an old retriever trainer:
And remember, train before you hunt, not while you are hunting. Hunting is when you both get to put it all together. If it is not working, stop the hunt, load her up and go home.
Lastly, if you do your homework, and shoot hundreds of birds over her, in spite of all your mistakes she will be a great companion and hunter.
Hey River rat,I totally forgot all about Jim,Ive known him for 5 years now.Thanks for the advice,I'll put it all to use.Daniel
coming from GSP country
I have two GSPs, a breading pair and I am no expert, or at least I don't claim to be. But I have learned 3 things since I got my first GSP.
1. You can train all you want, but in the end you teach each other.
2. Every dog is diffrent, treat them differently and you will see their true personality come shining through.
3. Be patient, and when that not enough be more patient.
I have two GSPs right now. I have the old man, Chewy, he has been with me for Seven years and he has morphed himself into a great dog. He is quite possibly the best all around bird dog that I have ever hunted with, and Im not just saying that because he is my dog. He is the master of combining air scent, with ground scent. If there is any breeze and you want to find birds, just walk cross wind and let him do his thing. I have had him hold a point (moving with the birds) for long of enough for me to scramble up a long icy hill. (At least 20 mins) However his hard headed in his ways. He is a terrible retreiver, I have tried everything I can think and read to try to get him mouth to soften up. I finally gave up and let my other dog do the retrieving. I have just accepted it he can find them but what ever you do don't let him bring em back.
Next there is Scooter. She is what my old man calls the golden girl. She is a super star, even at her young age. She is turning two in a few weeks. She is quite possibly the most athletic dog Ive come across. She is fearless. Has a little trouble holding her point, especially if Chewy is hunting next to her. But a few soft Whoa's and she holds tight. And she has a very soft mouth. Often when she bring a bird back it doesn't even have a ruffled feather. But this happened almost purely on instinct. I just helped it along.
So anyway now that I am done my bragging, the best advice I can give you is:
Find her strength and what she enjoys and encourage it. It must easier to bolster good behavior than it is to stop unwanted behavior in my experience.
One other thing I have noticed. There seems to be two camps of GSP trainers. Those that keep the dogs semi isolated and make there "jobs" to hunt and that is all their life consists of. The second camp is the "make the dog part of your family" camp. This is where you make you GSP one of your kids. I fall into the second camp. They seem to be much more emotionally invested in you, and seem to share your excitement of a well executed hunt, but they also tend to give you the look of discuss when you miss the perfect wing shot. Happy training and welcome to the GSP club. It a good camp to be, IMO.
Last edited by byrd_hntr; 01-31-2008 at 13:43.
Byrd_hntr,Im with ya on that brother......My dogs are my family also.Between us I liked the bragging you did for them,it got me all going.
In-fact I just came home from work and Dakota(GSP) she was up in the boat napping,thats gotta be a good sign right?
If your up in Fbx I'd like to see your dogs train might open my eyes more into what would help her out,oh! speaking of winding,I did see Dakota hitting the wind the other day and thought that wasa cool,but mainly she runs with her nose to the ground,I dont think she looks where she's running ANyhow thanks for the advice,lord knows I need it right now having a new breed of dog to train that Ive never dealt with before.Thanks again,Daniel
hunting dogs rock
Byrd Hntr, is there in thing in the world quite like a hunting dog doing what they were bred to do? Your dogs sound COOL! I been training labs for a long time and just enjoy the heck to be out gunning over them. But I am NOT "lab proud". I am happy to hunt over anybody's favorite hunting dog regardless of "flavor".
Now you guys got me all excited for bird season. Just isn't fair. Oh, this is going to be FUN!
I grew up hunting ruffed grouse in Vermont with out a dog, sure I shot my share but,...I can't imagine hunting birds again without a dog. Watching a good bird dog do their job is a wonderful thing to see...pointers, flushers or retrievers, doesn't matter.
A word of caution...whoa is to be taught seperate from birds and then once they have "got" it can be used with birds...
Got her out a little this weekend
I got my young female out in some ptarmigan this weekend. She was really excited and busted the first covey before I wanted her to. (I was trying to get a good picture of her pointing). But the second bunch we got into was really nice. I think with some work she will come a long way this year.
On wind scenting: I got my dog to start wind scenting by going out in the off season and working birds without a gun. Once they flushied I would make him hold and just watch as they flew away. This seemed to get him to raise his head ocasionally when working. Then I would work back into the birds from down wind and I notice that instead of looking down, he started to look forward and bring his nose up. Then we finally came across a covey that was really close and the wind was right. It was like a switch went off in his head. And from then on he has wind scented. I knew what I was doing but the dog did the real learning I just helped him along.
Nothing better than an brisk fall day a good dog, a shotgun and some wide open Alaska to hunt. Seeing a dog snap into a hard point is one of the most thrilling things there is in my opinion brings a grin to my face EVERY time. No wonder why bird hunting is the sport of royalty, so we can all be kings and queens for a day.
It doesn't really matter the on the Breed for me either, but I have lost a dang good lab to bad hips so I am a little gun shy with labs. Its bad enough seeing a dog get old, but when they cant get out and hunt because of bad hips it was almost too much to take.
Yeah, Im in FBX. We should go out sometime and see what we can find. Let me make sure my dogs are tuned up so they don't pass on any bad habits. I can tell you that live birds are the best way to go. You can usually trap a pigeon pretty easy. But if not a good way to start is go find a place where you know you will probably get into birds a just go for a walk. You might want to keep her on a long line just for some control, and to keep her from ranging too far. But make it all fun and just see what kind of instincts she comes up with on her own. Try not to have too much invested at first, just go out and have fun and keep control of her. One problem I have had is rabbits. I really don't have too much to say about that except try to avoid places where rabbits like to live. And at first don't get mad at her is she get "birdy" when around rabbit, just start by ignoring her and moving on. But if it get worst you need to be a little more firm about rabbits. I have seen a few bird dog ruined by rabbit chasing.
An old chuckar hunter once told me that a sign of a good dog is that when ever you see it it brings you something. Her toy, a sock, a stick, whatever. I find its a good way to judge a dog.
Keep your noses in the wind.
I've got 9 French Brits and the key to all of them hunting and pointing was lots of birds and lots of fun. Besides basic obedience so the dog doesn't run off and get lost or hurt, they need freedom to learn on their own. Pointing breeds are hardwired that way and will point eventually. Some dogs are just rock solid from the start and others are a little too curious about that wonderful smell, and bump birds until they realize they aren't going to get any of that feather candy if the bird flies before you're in position to shoot. I had two pups that were born within a couple of weeks of each other. Their first trip together they pointed a bird. I shot it and one went on to make 4 more solid points, hunt dead, and retrieve to hand. The other pup ran to the dead bird, sniffed it and was ready to go home. He had no interest in hunting, but chased tweety birds and pointed them in the yard. Last year I took him to SD for a week, and for the first two days he was a great companion and heeled perfectly while 6 other dogs hunted their butts off. The third day he backed some points and ventured out on his own a little. Day 4 he was hunting most of the time and backing points. On the way back to the motel he stole a pheasant from my hunting coat and was chowing down in the back of the SUV. (Turned out to be worth the price.) On the last day he was plowing through snowdrifts, working the wind, pushing through heavy cover, and pointing solidly. The point is that every dog will develop at a different rate. But, if you are patient and let them have some fun, eventually they will hunt and point. You can't make a dog hunt, but you can provide the opportunities that let them develop their natural desire to hunt and point. Not every dog will be a prodigy, but those are the ones guys like to post about, and the 16 week pups that quarter, point, honor, and retrieve to hand are the exceptions to the rule.
You need to teach her the whoa command. Pointing is basiclly the dog freezing in its midstride when it senses the birds are nearby. I have seen a few pointers that have a little bit of a natural point to them, but most have to be taught to point.
What I did was start out with a piece of cardboard on the ground. I would walk her to it and as soon as her front paws touched I would say whoa, then I would make her stay that way for a couple of seconds and then kept repeating the drill. after a few days, she would automaticlly whoa on the board without me saying it. Also I would increase the time she had to stay whoad. I would even give some tugs on the lead to tempt here to move.
Once you have whoa down pat, get the dog around a bird burried in the grass. You can tell when your dog is getting birdy. when you know she knows where its at, give here the whoa command. After enough repetition she will associate the scent of birds with this command and do it automaticly just like the cardboard. She may stop classical style with a foot in the air. or she may have all feet planted in the ground. Either way its acceptable as long as she doesnt move. thats how you get them to point. And I stress make sure she has whoa down to a T. Do the command around any distraction you can, and make sure she does it. then it should be a smooth transition to birds.
Now is a good time to introduce her to gunfire. Once she has found and pointed the bird, kick it up, have a buddy about 20 or 30 yards away fire a shot from a training pistol. she'll be so amped about the bird flying and all that the shot shouldnt bother her. My dog wigs out with excitement every time she hears gun fire. She knows that good things come from shots fired.
I shipped quail up here from california. They were better birds and cost the same than the ones I was buying local. they are a seasonal availability though do to shipping. Spring and fall is the best time to have them ship. I dont have the number anymore. Maybe contact the Arctic bird dog club for the number. Also I took there (ABDC) beginner pointer class when I got my GSP, it was a big help and got me and my dog started right.