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Gun Dog Training - Keeping Style on Your Dog

By Alan Davison
Friday, April 18th 2014
Spring is finally here and most folks are looking to get out and get some work done with their dogs. For some it's just the opportunity to spend quality time with their Good Dog while for others they have some performance events on the horizon like field trials and hunt tests. I'd like to talk a bit about training and some of the tools we use to get our dogs to look the best they can while they're on point.

When setting up our training course, we first determine what we want to accomplish with our dogs—what holes do they have that we feel we need to address. It may be stop-to-flush, honoring or just putting a bit more style on their point. Certainly there are many more, but this article will just address stop-to-flush and a staunch point.

Once we've decided what we want to accomplish, we look at the TOOLS that we have to get the job done and how we want to use those tools. The four items that are constantly in use when I train are the Tip-Up Bird Releaser, a Remote Bird Lancher, the Higgins Bird Releaser and an E-Collar. (The NEW SportDog Launcher is now in stock!)

As an example, when working on Stop to Flush, I use a remotely activated Bird Launcher or Higgins Releaser in conjunction with a Tip-Up Bird Releaser, or two, all placed in an area that's a likely bird objective and all within five to 10 feet of each other. Understand that the dog I'm working has had the basic stop-to-flush work done and now I'm expanding his knowledge base.

*I'll have the dog come into the area and remotely launch the bird when the dog will clearly see the launch. If I've done may foundation work correctly he'll stop and watch the bird fly off.

*Now comes the fun part, I'll walk into the area of the flush and kick around, building anticipation in the dog, and then step on the Tip-Up Bird Releaser to release another bird. For some dogs who have not experienced this, the flight of another bird may be more than they can handle so they may break. Once again, a great training opportunity.

*In the end, what I'm trying to do is get the dog to think about what's going on and what they'll need to anticipate in the future when they run into this scenario.

*The other benefit is that your dog will always anticipate a multiple bird flush and thus their style will very rarely let down. Something a judge really likes to see.

It's often very easy to distinguish between those dogs who have been trained using single birds and those who have been introduced to multiple flush scenarios. What I see from a dog that has only been trained on single bird flushes is that once a bird has been flushed, the dog tends to start loosening up—the head swivels and the tail drops and usually this happens right after the bird has been flushed.

Those dogs that have been trained using multiple birds always seem staunch and attentive, nice style and anticipating the next bird to pop. I've been to trials where this has been the deciding factor between first and second place which is why I'm a big proponent of setting training courses that consistently use multiple bird scenarios.

In my opinion, this type of training is also great for those who prefer to simply hunt their dogs. More often than not the birds you're hunting are covey type birds and training for the multiple flush scenario will only add to the satisfaction of your hunt with a dog who will anticipate and handle the situation.
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