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Training a flusher with an E-collar?


BLACKJACK

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My question is how do you train a flushing dog to stay in range with an electronic collar without making all that racket on a whistle? I know two different guys with labs that when the dog gets too far out, they blow the whistle, and when they don't come back, give them the zap. Keeps the dog close, but all that noise this time of year while pheasant hunting is a disaster, you might as well not even go, the birds will be flying out the far side of the swamp/field before you barely get started. Any ideas?
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Many electronic collars have a beeper feature. You can use beeper by itself as a warning to the dog that he is ranging too far. If he doesn't correct, give 'em some juice. A more effective method I have utilized is to establish a voice command (or whistle) when the dog is ranging out. I simply use the command "to far". If he doesn't correct he gets the beeper, and then the juice if needed. The key to remember is that dog needs to know what is expected when he hears the command or whistle. Once that is established, the collar becomes a very effective tool of reinforcing what you want him to do. I have a very energetic lab, and this methodology has worked wonders for keeping him in range. I seldom have to repeat the command "too far," and I never find myself yelling it. Every once in a while I beep him after the command for reinforcement, but I cannot remember the last time I had to give him the juice to correct. Make sense?
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g'eye pilot, yes it does make sense.

Two questions: 1) what do you do when your dog gets on a hot running pheasant? will he stop on the 'to far' command?

2) The beep that your refer to on the collar, is that similar to or in addition to the 'tickle' button on some e-collars?

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Blackjack

I use the beeper feature on my collar as a silent recal. That way I don't have to be walking in the feild talking to the dog. I just hit the button she hears the beep and turns around. I hold down the beeper and give her a long steady beep for this. When I just want her to stay a little closer I give her a couple of short beeps. This usually works, but somtimes I have to tell her to "stay close". As far as what I do when she is hot on a bird that is moving ahead of us, I subscribe to the school of thought that you get on your horse and keep up. If she is on a full out run I call her back, but for the most part I just keep up and get ready.

I went back and read your 2nd ?, and the beeper on my collar is just that, I press the bottom and she hears a beep from the collar, no tickle given, just a beeping sound.

Scott

[This message has been edited by phscotty (edited 12-10-2003).]

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phscotty, I guess my second question is this: most e-collars that I have seen have two controls, nick and constant, does your your collar have beeper and constant or beeper, nick, and constant?

Thanks for the answers guys, trying to get a handle on this because I've decided my next pup will be getting an e-collar from the start, but I want to use it right.

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The trainer that I am working with called what LABS4ME is talking about bending. With my Lab we worked her on a seldom used gravel road, we used the road so that she would not work to far either right or laeft. We would have her walk in front of us and when she was distraced we would just turn around and walk the other way. It did not take long for her to figure out she was to be paying attention to us. Once she got it on the road we switched to a field and started the same process. We would then throw in a few 45 degree turns. She knew she should stay in front of us. I hardly ever use the e collar now. It has turned out great she is alread by far a much better hunter than I.

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Blackjack

The collar that I have has one button for stimulation, it sends a signal as long as you hold the button. There is a dial on top with settings 0-5. The other button is on top and that just makes the collar do a beeping sound, just sound no stimulation. If you hold that button down you get a constant sound BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, or you can tap the button for a Beep Beep Beep.

Scott

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I guess I will add my two cents as well since you asked.

I think it was a "slip" up on words but with the e-collar you never "teach" or "train" any new commands. You should only be using it to "enforce" known commands. Not trying to be a pain in the butt but I don't want inexperienced users to be zapping the dog and the dog not understanding why. There are several goood books, videos, and resources out there (such as dog clubs) to help with Ecollar use and other issues that come up with training/hunting.

Okay now specifically to how I view these with respect to pheasant hunting. In time in hunting with your dog they will just KNOW what your team needs to be successful bird hunting. My now almost two year old golden is really just starting to fully figure it out. Really only this year she has learned that unless I am close I cannot shoot the bird. I view part of this as her responsibility and part of this as mine. I agree with what was said above if the dog is birdy and the bird is running we BOTH speed up, that means me keeping up with her. For the most part I turn her loose, and do my best to keep up the pace. But if throughout the course of a normal hunt she is ranging "too far" I give the "too far" and if she does not respond the "too far" command with a bump on the ecollar and she will either wait for me to catch up or circle back and start out again from within 10 yards of me. Now I can just bump the ecollar and she knows through two years of training and consistancy that she is too far so she will always come to me when I bump her with the collar in the field. But it is only this year that I could drop the verbal portion of the command. This was only learned through two years of experience. (To give you an idea she had about 35 pheasants shot over her last year and has had over 60 shot over her this year).

Hope this helps a bit. If not let me know and I will try to explain better.

chow

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Hey BlackJack... You'll have to look at each collar manufacturer, some do offer a beep on certain collars (along with the constant and/or nick). The original intent for the beep was to have the ability to provide positive stimulus to the dog when they out away from the handler. I've kind-of found that the simpler the transmitter out hunting, the better. Fumbling for buttons isn't what I like to do. One button for correction, don't have to worry if it's beep, nick or constant. Some of these new collars have 6-8 buttons on the transmitter. With one button you control the amount (duration)of correction nessecary and the stimulation level is set by the plug in the collar. I had a buddy try the beep technique on a big running Lab and she didn't respond to the beep at all in a hot field (like you find in So. Dak.). We ended up working with her back at home to recall on one whistle toot. (she didn't handle so we didn't worry that the single blast would make her sit). We started using a 50' check cord, then a check cord/e-collar combo, then just the e-collar. Then when we were hunting again, if she ranged to far, we stopped where we were at, one whistle blast, correction if needed, then hunt on. Until she fully understood quartering in range, each time she was re-called, she had to come all the way back to the handler before she could continue to hunt. As time wore on she was allowed to make her adjustments without coming all the way back to him and now she visually checks in without much use of the collar at all. I've found that a lot of the problems with over ranging is caused by hunting young dogs in a group and they are eager to "out-do" each other. Kind-of like the domino effect, or geese feeding in field effect...always hopscotching to get a head of the others. Also when they are young pups, when walking them, change course on them when they aren't looking, or duck down in heavy cover, when they realize they can't see you, they get very nervous and start looking to get back by you in a big hurry, you've now planted the seed for the future to keep tabs on where you are at.

Hope some of this helps... Ken

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A couple of you touched on another problem that all flushing dog owners encounter, what to do when the dog is hot on a trail, and how you use the Ecollar. As I understand it, most of you just try to keep up unless the dog is on a dead run, then you call them back. And realistically, that running bird 9 times out of 10 will flush out of range (unless you have a poster), whether you call the dog back or not. And the sprinting works good for about 20-30 yards, then you can't keep up.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was looking to find out if the Ecollar was the 'magic cure' to solve the problem of a dog running hot after a bird, but it sounds like it isn't.

And I also wanted to find out how to use an Ecollar without all that racket of whistles and hollering, sounds like you can tone that down by using a beeper type collar or softer voice commands and lots of preseason training.

A couple of you mentioned changing directions. I like to to that alot, I hate getting in hunting situation where you line up in a field with too many guys and try to go in a straight line, its hard to keep the dog close. Or if you're hunting long, linear cover like shelterbelts.

Anyway, thanks for the advice on Ecollars. I've decided I'm not going to put a collar on my 7 year old dog, shes timid enough that I think a shock collar would freak her out, but I am trying to decide whether its worth it for the next pup in a year or three. My seven year old isn't perfect but I've shot 120 birds plus over her in the last two years, so she does ok.

Love that pheasant hunting!! Hope to get out this afternoon if work permits. It will be my last chance of the year frown.gif

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