Pointing Dog Training Articles
Steadying: The steady birddog, often called "steady to wing and shot," not only holds point until his handler flushes the bird(s), but also remains in place through all the ensuing excitement, namely, the flush, the shot(s), and the fall(s). He remains in place until either sent to retrieve or sent on to hunt again. What's more, the steady dog does not perpetrate a delayed chase. When sent on to continue hunting, he does not take off after the birds that flushed. Instead, he hunts in the direction indicated by his handler.
At the same time you're training your dog to be steady-to-wing-shot-and-kill, begin teaching him to respect other dogs by honoring (backing) them when they're on point.
When one dog sees another dog or dogs on point, he must stop and look like he's on point, but actually he is recognizing the dog on point. This situation is called backing or honoring. The term backing suggests the second dog is confirming the first dog's point. However, some people are misled by this term, thinking backing occurs in back of the first dog.
The American Brittany Club's 2004 National Amateur Championship took place November 22 to 26th. This was the premier one hour stake for amateurs handling all age Brittanys in the country. This stake has been considered as a Championship since 1966. Prior to 1966, it was run as the American Brittany Club Amateur stake with 45 minute heats. The stake has been held on these grounds at the end of November every year since 1987. This year 48 dogs were drawn and all came to the line with no scratches.
Having your dog back or honor another dog’s point is important if you hunt with more than one dog or with other hunters and their dogs. Most bird dogs have a natural inclination to back that will quickly show itself, especially if a pup is run with a seasoned dog. If a dog points, it can learn to honor. Pointing and honoring really go hand and hand, but they originate from two different senses. Pointing is done mostly by scent (although some dogs learn to sight point) and is more instinctive than honoring, which is done by sight. The best way to help a dog develop its instinct to back is to expose it to other dogs on point.
You don’t need to have seasoned dogs in the field to train a pup. If a pup has what it takes, he will learn the ropes himself. The only advantage a pup gains from working with older dogs in the field is that he will follow the other dogs and cover more ground, which accelerates the desire to hunt. A pup on its own is a little more reluctant to cover ground when it first starts, but that changes quickly with more time in the field.
Forty seven days, seven hours, twelve minutes. Quail season in Texas opens on the last Saturday of October. A giant red circle around October 26 serves to keep the calendar and I focused on the most important day of the year. In precisely forty-seven days, seven hours, and twelve minutes (not that anyone is counting) I will be quail hunting. Like every other true bird dog man, I am more than ready to start this season’s pursuit of Mr. and Mrs. Bob. I can’t wait. Last year’s disappointing season, in which Texas experienced a virtual quail famine, makes me more ready than ever.
It is the first weekend in May and my Britt has just found his first quail of the day. A kick at the brush encourages a single to rise. The shotgun barks and the bird drops. Ranger runs out for a nice retrieve. There is nothing quite like quail hunting over pointing dogs, is there?
In the previous issue, you learned the importance of basic training for your hunting dog. Rick Smith, a professional dog trainer since 1957 and who comes from a long line of famous gun dog trainers, continues that point here with electronic collars.
A few years ago I attended the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s annual conference on behalf of Nova Scotia Tourism. I had flown two of my dogs to the gathering, as I was scheduled to do some training exhibitions. The dogs performed admirably with tail wagging style, and after the event two members of the audience approached me. They complimented me on the dogs, then commented on how nice it was to see dogs trained without an electronic collar.