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Advanced Dog Training Course

You have made it to the advanced dog training course.

All of the hours are beginning to pay off but this is where we really hone the skills of a bird dog and finish off his or her abilities to perform in the field. This part of the course may seem as if there is not much to it, but it is going to take you many hours and patience to fully finish out your pup.

Steady to wing and shot is the advanced stages of bird dog training but is important in giving time for safe shots over the dog in the field. Steady to wing and shot are really two different things. We will first begin with steady to wing. Remember- birds make a bird dog but if you have been building a solid foundation most of the way your pup should develop this in a relatively short order.

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Let's start with an example of a drill:

how to steady up your pup

To paint the picture, imagine yourself out in an open field with some nice knee high cover walking with your dog ahead quartering back and forth. You will plant a bird and circle your dog into the scent cone. Your dog locks up and has now established a good point. This is where understanding the training level your dog is in can be important. At first, the trainer will not want to wait too long before walking up behind the dog and flushing the bird. However, what we expect is when the bird is flushed the dog will not break until you release the dog with an “ok” or by his name command. In many instances the dog is always going to break in the early stages. This is a fairly simple correction. Use the “whoa command” and apply pressure until he stops. With many repetitions your dog will begin to grow in confidence and be ok with using just their pointing instinct to handle the bird. The more you do this drill the longer you will want to test your dog as he or she is standing on point. A Lot of times it's ok to let them stand on point for a few minutes. If the bird begins to run you can give an easy command to give them the confidence it is ok to follow. However at no point is it ok for the dog to get close enough to flush it, and if it happens,

which it does and will, you will give the whoa command and again apply pressure. If you cannot get your dog to stop it is time to go back to the grass field and work whoa until they are standing stone upon the call of the word. One thing to consider, is many pointing dogs are born with 3 separate instincts, point, retrieve and chase. Some dogs like to chase birds a heck of alot more than point them, this is why many pros insist on handlers not shooting a bird for the dog until he or she is broken to the wing and then shot. However, for many hunting dogs it is ok to mix in shooting a bird for the dog when it does the drill correctly. Think of it like this, point the bird, let the handler flush it and stand there watching you get your reward of the bird being shot. This will reinforce the dog's mind to stand if they are truly bird driven. Another trick from the pros that can reinforce pointing and keep your pup from chasing birds across the field is changing directions after the dog has watched the flushed bird land. Turn and change directions, this signals to your dog his job is to turn and keep hunting for a new bird in the direction the owner is going. Remember, your dog only has so much pointing instinct based on his or her genetics, so it is important to not create bad habits for your dog that take away from their pointing instinct. After all, the job of your dog is to point if he's a pointer so there is no point in flushing. (Haha get it.)

Now time to start backing down into breaking them to steady through the shot.

Just like before, you are going to use the same exercise, point, flush, but now you are going to mix in gunfire. Your dog should have already been introduced to a gun at this point, if it hasn’t please don’t make this the first time. You will likely scare the dog and turn them gunshy and now you have a real problem. Once the bird is in the air you will fire a single shot. If your dog breaks, again use the whoa command and use stimulation to get him or she to stop. Sometimes in this drill it is useful to have a partner handle the gun as one can then have a sole focus on the dog. You can repeat this drill until your dog is standing still through the flush and shot, but remember every time the dog does it correctly it is very important to give the “ok” command and get them changing directions than from the one the bird flew in, also make sure you are mixing in praise to help the dog understand they did it correctly. Once your dog becomes proficient in this regard you can really start to throw the tests at them such as throwing another bird out of your bag right in front of the dog once you have flushed the original bird and fired a shot, maybe even fire two shots. Time after time this will create a dog that is rock solid, and confident in the field.

You will eventually make it to the place where it is time to start shooting the birds. Now, in the videos below you will see an example of where the dog is not allowed to go until he or she is released by name. This is important when training for a trial, however in some hunting instances we let the dog go once the bird is killed. In our opinion it is important to finish them fully and if later on you want to let them start breaking earlier than that is up to you, but once you create a bad habit it is often a lot more difficult to fix. So, one trick you can use to help him or her understand a release name is to use the bumper in the yard if you haven’t been doing so while the dog is growing up. Just a simple out and back drill where the dog is not allowed to go until you call their name, and if they break, same thing, whoa command and stimulation until the response is desired. If your pointer is not retrieving, although all the time spent building a foundation do not panic as it happens, especially with pointers. See the next section for trained retrieve and force fetched techniques.

Finished dogs are a spectacle to watch, there is something about the clash of elegance and discipline that makes us as handlers feel a tingling in our souls to the point of goosebumps. We wish everyone can witness a finished dog at least once in their life. Do not be afraid to ask a professional for help here as this is an extremely hard thing to accomplish, but if you can get it right, the amount of gratitude you will have will be impeccable.

Trained Retrieve

Trained retrieve can be tricky, follow the steps and don’t take a move forward until you can build on the previous. It is extremely important to make sure you are doing this properly as this is the last step to a fully finished dog. One thing to note. If you feel like your dog needs force fetch, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experts, this is something worth consulting with a pro and will pay off in the long run. Remember for either trained retrieve for force fetch you will want to take your dog off of birds until the dog is finished.

Step 1: Intro to Trained Retriever

Listen as Mel explains the difference between a trained retrieve and an actual force fetch. Often times we hear of people saying they need their dog force fetched but they really don’t know the difference between the two. Force fetch is something we suggest help with from a professional as it can tend to be a brutal process. Please reach out if you have questions.

Step 2: Hold

Once you have made the determination if your dog needs a trained retrieve or force fetch you can make the decision to move forward. Here is the first step in the trained retrieve process: Hold. Do not move on until you have lengthened out the amount of time your dog can hold. They should be holding until you give them the command to give.

Step 3: Moving Hold

Once your dog is properly holding, it is time to throw in a wrinkle. Here is how we move with hold.

Step 4: Fetch

Your dog is now holding and moving wherever asked so you need to now have him or her understand how to fetch upon command. This will help when the dog decides to go out and does not want to retrieve. The goal is to say fetch and the dog will go out to grab whatever is asked, holding it all the way back until they are told to give.

Step 5

Understand that although there may not be as many courses in this section as others, the technicality and time these take are much more serious than in the past. Not all dogs are built the same so you will inevitably experience times where some of these things do not work. However, do not worry there is always a way to fix the problem. Please do not be afraid to reach out to us with any questions. Congratulations on your finished dog.