Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
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This is Hershey’s tenth year, and he has never pushed a point in his entire life. He never breaks until the last bird flushes, and he honors every dog that points. He learned all of this from working wild birds, starting with that rooster many years ago. A pup chasing birds after the flush is completely different from a dog moving or breaking on point before a flush. If you want a pup to be steady to wing and shot, chasing birds has to be curtailed, but it has absolutely nothing to do with stopping a pup from moving after it points.
One reason a dog moves from a point is that it has lost the scent of the bird and becomes impatient.
Photo by: Author
One reason a dog moves from a point is that it has lost the scent of the bird and becomes impatient. Or the scenting conditions may be so poor that he has overrun his nose and before he can stop, the bird flushes. The pup is not screwing up in this situation, as most dogs will correct this movement on their own as they mature. There are always a few dogs that creep or break when pointing, of course, and this has to be corrected right from the get-go.
This is where the five percent of training that you may have to contribute to help a pup hold steady on point comes in. It’s very important that you are sure the pup is ready for the necessary correction. Again, every pup’s learning curve is different, and this creeping or breaking could simply be immaturity that will work itself out.
If you are sure the pup has a problem holding point and he will not hold with a simple verbal command, it may be because your command for the pup to stay or whoa was not firm enough during earlier training sessions. Or it could be that the pup is headstrong or just too intent on getting at the birds. Sometimes teaching a pup to hold point is easier with the help of an assistant. Put a check cord on him and let him run. When the pup points, get to him as quickly as you can and step on the rope. Work toward the dog while keeping the rope tight. Sweet-talk him and pet him, but hold him firmly. Then have the assistant walk in front of the dog and flush the bird. If you can’t find the bird, let the pup go. It’s okay if he flushes a bird, as you’ve achieved your goal of having the pup hold for a while.
There are always a few dogs that creep or break when pointing, of course, and this has to be corrected right from the get-go.
Photo by: Author
Most of the time I do this training by myself, and it works just as well. Once you have the pup held firmly, slowly relax the rope and move forward while talking to him, saying "whoa," "stay," or "eeezy." Then hold him again. If this is done two or three times, so much the better. If you can’t find or flush the birds, just let the pup go. If he flushes the birds, let the pup run and chase the birds a short distance, then call him back. I think chasing birds a short distance at this point in training is perfectly fine.
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