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jwed

Pup killed a pigeon

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Hi lads,

My 6 month old springer pup has a mega drive and I've been trying to keep him away from birds till I can get him fairly well behaved. I've just really been walking him on and off the lead in the field behind the house in some rough ground. Today I saw him hunting a scent like crazy about 20 feet from me and he caught and killed a pigeon and scarpered with him. I managed to get the bird off him and put him to the kennel to calm down.

Am I doing right by keeping him away from birds? Is it normal for springer to catch and kill birds? I reckon if I'd not got the bird off him he could have even eaten it. Is there anything else I should be doing with him?

 

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I introduced all the pups I’ve had to  chickens from a real young age. The more often they see them the quicker they get used to them and know to ignore flapping things with feathers till you train them otherwise to retrieve and it flush feathered game. Get them at first to walk round them on a lead then to heel, then sit stay and get them to run back through them to you. it’s always worked for me! You can always tell what dogs on shoot days never see birds unless out on a shoot as they are the ones who go deaf to a stop whistle because seeing so many birds is far too exciting. 

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Thanks Jarvis, I actually have hens here and the pen is right beside him so he's well used to them.  Maybe I'll let the hens out of the pen and do some work with him on the lead with them, or better still bring him into the pen on the lead. 

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18 hours ago, jwed said:

Thanks Jarvis, I actually have hens here and the pen is right beside him so he's well used to them.  Maybe I'll let the hens out of the pen and do some work with him on the lead with them, or better still bring him into the pen on the lead. 

I’ve got mine in an orchard so it’s nice and easy. Also once you’ve mastered heel, sit, stay, recall etc a good way I found with my cocker to get her steady and used to birds was dogging in. It’s easy for me because I keeper a shoot but if you  know a keeper see if you can help him out to get him steady to see birds regular but keeping him steady and close to you. The worst thing for a young dog is to try work and train them and not have birds or scent to flush / see and they will end up getting fustrated. 

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Thanks Jarvis. I thought his recall was good but when he had the pigeon was oblivious to the whistle. I plan to spend the spring and summer really focusing on obedience training and summer into winter get into game training. 

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On 01/01/2019 at 10:38, jwed said:

Thanks Jarvis. I thought his recall was good but when he had the pigeon was oblivious to the whistle. I plan to spend the spring and summer really focusing on obedience training and summer into winter get into game training. 

Best thing to do is don’t rush and just because you think they have masters something don’t stop doing it. Keep constantly going over the basics... my cocker is 3 now and she is still definitely learning.

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Come woodcock season you will be wanting every drop of that drive.  You have the complete opposite of a sticky spaniel and many people envy that.  As long as he doesn't run out beyond the gun you are doing ok.  Just don't let him possess it long enough to kill it.  A bit of work with the dummy with pigeon wings, 3 retrieves in 5 mins, no more and end the session on play never a retrieve.

As for the recall, springers dogs can be deaf when they want to be but sit must mean sit.  I found that once the springer is out of the oen you literally have to give the dog 15mins to burn off all that mental energy before training can commence.  If you try and begin training the moment the dog is out of the pen just have a stress ball handy for yourself !

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Good luck bud

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Thanks lads, have been working hard on the training for the last few months but keeping things fun too. You are right about the first 15 minutes out of the run. He's literally like a bullet. Trying to keep him in range is still a challenge. Funny because the stop whistle he drops instantly. Quartering whistle not so much when he's in cover. 

Here's maybe an odd question but could he be hunting more with his eyes than his nose? The speed he goes at I can imagine he's missing plenty of scent? 

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If he is not quartering it might mean you are not walking into the wind. He will air scent mostly so don't you worry about his nose on the ground all the time, that's mostly just to push through rushes and long grass.

Here is a good one, drop him on sit and tie him to a gate. Walk forward 30 ft and over 20 paces drop 5 tennis balls out to the left and right.

Walk back to him, untie from the gate, put him on sit and then with your hand kept totally still above his face give a short pip to send him out and begin walking forward.

He is 6 months old so don't worry about him quartering. Make sure you do this exercise into the wind. Use your hands as you walk to cast left and right but do not talk to him just pip each time.

When he finds the first ball pip pip pip pip real quick, drop to your knees, look down at the grass and open your arms right out like a huge hug. As he runs in keep the whites of your palms facing him and narrow your arms the closer he gets.

If he possesses the ball lie down, put your face into the grass bit keep your hands out before your head. He should be all over you like a rash. Keep rubbing him saying "Good boy good boy". Now don't grab him by the scruff or the caller but this itself is his best game. The trust that he can come near you and be all over you. This is vital. Trust!

Put your arms over him and hand under his rump and take the ball. Hide the ball in your pocket or a bag high on your body so he knows it's gone. Now you need the key word "DEAD!".

Send him out from standing or him sitting, whatever his position is and continue this exact same for the next two balls.

I know I said 5 but here is the trick, you pick up two before the game while walking back to him. Before that very first time you cast him out.  Your scent will be in the grass bit no ball. He learns not every scent spot has an item so he adapts to hunt on.

This point is so important, never inflict pain on him to get him to let go of a ball. Just hold it and look at him. The only word you say is 'Dead' or your own personal key word. If he doesnt let go just play the waiting game. Don't pull it or push the ball. Dogs love tug of war, this is about dominance. The punishment is the game completely stops until he takes his gums off the ball.

On quartering also if you pip to sit and he just stops and holds position, honestly this is brilliant. He is remaining focused, holding your gaze and saying to you "im tentative!" If you really need him to sit pip again, if trained he should sit. But honestly I see so many lads badger their dogs and it is the ruination of a good day. You want to reach the point where on a shoot you barely talk to your dog and the whistle only rarely gets a random pip to cover ground which interests you.

Also at 6 months, 15mins max! That includes 5 mins of mental burn off, 3 ball flush and finds, 5 mins of play to end. Play is Play!!!!!!!! No training. This is the bonding time.  My last 5 mins is spent with little flecks of bacon or ham and I hold it just above my brow. It makes the dog look right into my eyes which in dog psychology is a death sentence. It makes the dog not to be afraid to continuously look at me when quartering, building trust and it is 5 mins of constant attention. Ask any dog to be focused on you entirely for 5 whole mins and see how long it lasts. I got this tip off a great friend who trains agility dogs and it is a complete game changer for working so springers.

Can I share this advice? Owning springers will at times put you close to a mental asylum. We pick up energy from our dogs and vice versa except springers are completely mental! So when you go to your pen practice this game! Keep your mouth closed tight, wear old clothes so the dog can jump up to greet you( I believe essential in making a dog brave enough to come near sprinting back to you on a retrieve!). With your lips shut let the dog be himself, no "Hi, don't do That, or get down, or come back". Just you clean the pen and let the dog be himself. Then with your lips tight show him the lead and get onto one knee. Dog on, balls in the bag and lead him out for the game. By being silent he becomes tentative as he needs to watch you so he knows what the next game is. Whispering commands (well within his hearing range), this itself commands attention.

I hope this helps, it's made dogs I have worked for life work for me.

          Ronan

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About the speed in your last question, watch clips of red setters covering ground for grouse! Your dog is using his best vision.....his nose! All the time! They can process scent cognitively so fast that we can't even begin to imagine how they see their world.

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I have to add this one last thing as I re-read your first post.  It is vital that you change your ground every day.  It does not have to be an entire field just a different corner of the field.  Don't be casting balls or dummies over ground you trod on even a few days before.  Your pup will get bored, become distracted and think "hey, we did this yesterday, I am going to do something else instead of this game".  New scent is new stimulus which develops your dog into a true hunting machine.  Repetitive action without development is like pissing into the wind. :)

 

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That is brilliant RTurlough and thanks a million for the detailed advice. I’ll definitely try what you’re recommending, for sure I’m  reusing ground which isn’t helping. 

Just to point out he’s a year old now, I started the thread some months back but it’s great to keep getting advice. Just want to make sure I do the best I can for the dog and give him a good first season come November. 

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My Springer has been fully trained by a keeper who was taken ill and whished him to me I do not shoot but two of my lads often take her shooting [mainly Duck and walked up birds ] and is very well behaved as a dog should be however when she accompanies me on Rabbiting trips she very often pegs pigeons that are carrying shot  and kills them other than that my lads tell me she is soft mouthed with all Birds including any runners . Just a quirk that doe's not bother me in the least as to me the dog is just a companion

Picture 172.jpg

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