Steady to Flush
From Tri-Tronics Retriever Training Book, By Jim and Phyllis Dobbs with Alice Woodyard
Reprinted by permission of Tri-Tronics Inc.
In the uplands, the retriever's job is to quarter ahead of the gun, seeking and flushing birds within shotgun range. The flushing dog should sit instantly when a bird flushes, mark the fall if the bird is dropped, and remain sitting until sent to retrieve.
Upland bird hunting training, therefore, requires teaching the dog to sit to flush and be steady to shot. A dog that is allowed to break on shot will chase fly-aways, miss multiple marks and interfere with other hunters.
An ideal time to teach the dog to sit to flush is at the end of the dog's three-action introduction. This is the time when the idea of sitting from motion in order to turn off mild stimulation is fresh in the dog's mind.
In sit-to-flush training, you should teach the dog that the sight of a bird flushing is a command to sit, having the same significance as the verbal "Sit" or the "Sit Whistle." If you train for this result, you will have a steady upland bird hunting companion, and can concentrate on your shooting instead of shouting at your dog.
Use a Bird Launcher
A Tri-Tronics bird launcher makes it easy for the dog to learn to sit to flush. A triple launcher is especially useful because you can continue moving through the field and build repetition without breaking the flow of training by stopping to reload or move a single launcher.
To teach the dog to sit to flush, place a pigeon in the Tri-Tronics bird launcher. At first, use fliers, homers if possible. By using fliers, there is no fall to excite and tempt the young dog into breaking before it has learned the basics. At first, it will be hard enough having the dog sit at the sight of the flush.
Walk past the bird launcher with your dog at heel, staying upwind of the launcher and about 20 feet from it. At this stage of training, you should approach the launcher from upwind, so that the only cue the dog receives that tells it to sit is the visual one, not bird scent. If you approach the launcher from the downwind side, the dog will learn to sit when it scents a bird instead of sitting at the sight of the flush, and you will have a "pointer" instead of a flushing dog.
As you approach the launcher, flight the pigeon and command "Sit." Do not use the Tri-Tronics collar unless you must give a second "Sit" command. Repeat this procedure several times to give the dog an understanding of what's expected. Then repeat the process, but this time, hesitate a couple of seconds after launching the bird and then use low-level electrical stimulation as you command, "Sit."
Repeat the sequence several times: flight the bird, hesitate, and then say, "Sit." The dog will quickly chain the launch of the pigeon with the "Sit" command and begin to sit automatically to avoid stimulation. Be sure to hesitate a couple of seconds before you say, "Sit" to give the dog a chance to avoid stimulation by sitting to the flush on its own.