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Steady to shot?How to train when along?


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I am tring to get Mandy to sit and stay when a gun is fires near her.She wants to bolt out there and find what ever was shot.

I took her to the trap range , stood back aways from the shooters and held her at short leash all the while telling her "sit, no bird".

All this did was to make her start whinning and barking because she couldn't chace the clay down.

How should I go about getting her to steady when I am by my self?

I can't hold her still while I shoot the starter pistol, and throw a bird(bumper) for her to see.

She would bolt right away if I didn't have her in hand.

I tried hooking her to a stake but then she didn't mark the bumper and had to search for it a while.

I also want to work on the sit cammand as she gets out away from me on a retrieve.

I blow the whistle now and she will stop but comes back to my side.

How can I teach her to sit where she is at and stay there til I release her again?

Any one up on the North side ?I have access to a large private club we could train the dogs on, can even shoot the flyers there pending I get the permit if needed on private land.


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It all goes back to basic obedience. You need to go back to square one and teach sit, stay, heel commands. Stop worrying about training with bumbers and gun shots until the dog has mastered basic obedience. There is no shortcut to this type of training.

Introduce hand and whistle commands at the same time that you are doing your obedience training. Alternate using whistle commands, voice commands and hand commands for sit and stay. When the dog will reliablely obey these commands you can introduce bumper training again. Don't always let the dog retrieve a thrown dummy. Your dog appears to have drive and desire so I would make the dog stay while you pick up about 50% of your thrown dummies. The dog needs to learn only to go on your command not on the fact that a dummy is thrown or a shot is fired. If your dog obeys your commands you will find that training by yourself is no problem because the dog will to what is expected of it, sitting while you throw dummies, fire gun shots, etc. You can and should do some of these things when at a distance from your dog, say 25 or 50 feet away. Obedience, obedience, obedience. Did I mention the importance of obedience?

As far as stopping the dog on a whistle to sit and stay, use your whistle and hand signal at the same time. If the dog does not sit and stay run directly at her with your stop hand sign and blow the whistle. None of this will work without basic obedience. Be patient with her don't expect her to pick this up right away. It is harder for you do endure this type of training then your dog because it is not fun for you. It is all about building blocks to things your dog has learned. This will not be fixed in a week or even a month. The more short sessions you can do, the better it will be for your dog. Twice a day for no more than 15 or 20 minutes should get you on the path to you controlling your dog and not vice a versa. Good luck. I'm sure Labs4me, setterguy and others will chime in with their excellent advice and may have a different approach, but this has worked well with my last few dogs.

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Is the dog collar conditioned yet? Have you introduced the heeling stick to her yet? Ask a family friend or neighbor boy to throw for you for a couple of days/weeks until you get your objective accomplished.

Have the bird/bumper thrown while you hold the dog on a 12-18 inch lead giving her some very firm yanks when she wants to leave before your ready. Make sure you hold her for a good 10-15 second count after the bird hits the ground before you put your hand in there to send her. A few days of this hopefully she will allow you to move to the next step.

After a few days of this introduce the heeling stick. When the bird is thrown if her rear end gets off the ground whack her on the behind a few good times with a firm SIT, SIT!!! Tell your thrower to pick up the bird and start over. Always making sure that you hold her for that 10-15 second count before putting the hand in to send.

At this point she should know the command to sit until sent. You can now introduce indirect pressure with the collar if she moves before the hand sends her. If she moves before then I would start with just a nick of the collar. If she doesn't give you the response you are looking for get on her a little harder by adding a constant 2-3 second burn.

Remember to be consisted in what you do. Don't allow her to get away with something today and get on her 1-2 days later for the same thing.


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Thanks for the advice,if I sit here and look at it from the very basic obeidince stand point she is getting away with to much.

It takes a few firm "sit" cmmands to get her to sit when some thing is going on around her.

She does have all the basics down and she is collar conditioned.I had her profesionaly trained all the way through force fetching.

She is a soft dog and will just lay down if you try to push her to hard so I have been too slack on my discripline of her.

I never though to ask the nieghbor kid if he wanted to go out with me to help train the dog,my daughter will only if her friends are all gone and she is bored.

Thanks again, I will have to inforce the basics better for a while.


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Benny, both DBL and Duckbuster have given you sound advice. Either way you choose you should make great headway.

The command "stay" cannot be over emphasized enough when beginning your basic training. I find that "stay" and "heel" are enforced much less than the commands "sit" and "here". "Stay" should be firmly implanted in the dog's mind before any work with bumpers and birds. Why should a handler expect their dog to be steady when there is commotion around them and they are not steady without any commotion? If the dog breaks or is out of control at the line, DO NOT let him retrieve the bird. Do not send him until they settle down, no barking or whining is allowed! Give a good solid 15 count after he settles down before you release him. You wouldn't allow these actions duck hunting, don't allow them while training.... Put him in as many different scenarios (both hunting and everyday life) and teach them to remain calm and steady... at the park watching kids play, at the beach watching ducks and geese, soccer games, your front yard etc. etc. Do this daily until he understands that he ALWAYS needs to be steady and in control and you will go along ways towards finishing him for the blind.

One other little method I've seen used time to time is an "honor mat". In essence it is a carpet sample, old floor mat from a car, or any other "mat" that a dog can sit on. You teach the dog that when you place him on the mat he may not leave it until he is released. My friend used this technique and really firmed up his dog on honoring situations and remote releases. He even brought it out duck hunting. That dog knew what that mat meant and would not break when he was on it. Now in trials it was a different story, he still had some problems but it made him at least a competitor where he had no shot prior to the mat training.

In my "training" days, I used to employ a couple of neighbor kids for $5 each to go throw birds for 2-3 hours on a Saturday. They were probably around 12 years old and were more than happy to do it. Plus neither came from hunting homes and I think it helped open their eyes a little. If you ask around I bet you will find some "help"...

Sounds like you see that you need to re-visit "stay", I hope she picks up on it quickly and moves forward from there. Let us know how she progresses...

Good Luck!


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I've got a new pointing lab pup and have a few questions for you. At what age do you start to hold the dog back more seriously? Some of the stuff I've read or heard is that for a young dog (under 6 mo) it is not advisable to make them stay with complete compliance. That usually starts after you have FF and CC them. With my pup about 4.5 mo I'll just hold him for short count and then let him go for a short retrieve. And not very many retrieves.

Also, I've also read that sit should also mean stay until released. Do you also use stay to reinforce them to keep their butt planted until it's ok to do so?

Last one, Do you give them a few fun bumpers without restrictions to start and end positively once they get further in their training?

As for keeping them steady, I've had friends that used the carpet method and also made them stay while they went and picked up the dummy themselves, and had good success with that.

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It has been my experience to wait until the dog is doing everything else right. Steadying a dog is the absolute finishing point in training. I started to steady my dog when she was about three. Now all of this is based on my knowledge (or lack there of) in pointing breeds, retrievers may be a whole different ball game, LABS4ME might be able to give you a better answer on that, if he ever gets out of his bobcat. I just wanted to make sure that all the other aspects like retreiving, backing, holding point and most of all the "hunting experience" were mastered, then I moved on to steadying, which we are still working on. Like GSP man says, they're all broke till they break.

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O.K. training a "pointing lab" will require some of Setterguys expertise!!!! I had one "pointing lab" that did so on her own with no training or help from me and she threw pups that also pointed. She came from just regular ol' trial lines back in the 80's long before pointing dogs were vogue or advertised. I trained her to be a trial dog and hunted upland game as a sidebar to ducks at the time. I wish I could find the picture I have of her pointing a rooster with my old boss's English Pointer honoring her! It was such a cool sight... My now eleven year-old female decided last year that she was going to start pointing (no relation to the last one I had that pointed). It is more of a "flash" point, put she definitley holds the bird until they move. She'll track them, but if they sit tight, she'll hold them until they move again and then flushes them, my other one actully "held" points until I told her to "flush them up".

Back to steadying on marks. It works best if "sit" and "stay" meld into one command. It's more seamless in the blind or on the line. Generally I've taught both commands when starting them off, but begin to enforce "sit" as meaning "stay" also. I've never had a dog get confused from learning both commands but in the end relying on "sit" to do the work of both. I have a buddy who only teaches the command "sit" and sit means sit until released. His dogs are always non-slip.

I think all basic obedience (including stay) can be enforced completely before the FF and CC. These are the foundations to all further work and letting them slack only causes other problems to develop that you now have to correct first, before getting total compliance and then moving forward. Now remember we are talking about line (and in the blind) manners and if you are training the dog to be only (or mostly) an upland hunter, your training regimen and requirements will change. I think the thought process for not enforcing "stay" till a later age comes more from those afraid of talking some of the zip out of a dog. Usually that would not be a problem, but rather a good thing. I think line manners are the short fall of a lot of otherwise good hunting dogs. Think of it this way, would you rather teach your kids manners when they are young and developing and they except that as everyday life and know no other way, or, "break" them when they are teen-agers?

My "fun" bumpers are always at the end of a good training session (usually 3-4) or after a particularily "trying" session to bring a sulking dog back up (usually 1-2). I don't start off sessions with fun bumpers as I want them to have their game face on and get to business. These are a reward I give them (sometimes they even get them mid-stream after they do a really fantatic job on a particular test we're working on).

The "mat" method really seems to work well and gives the dog a good visual to que in on. I agree with picking up a lot of the birds early on in steadiness training. I probably walk out and pick up every third bird or so. I really don't think any of this training takes any of the desire out of the pup. If it's in him, it's in him.... he's just more controlled.

Hope this helps...

Good Luck!


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