CatSquirrel wrote:A dog will tell you what's on his mind by his body language while marks are going down.
Our training group insists on zero shuffling/leaning/etc.
At first, I would approach this problem in training by having a bird boy quack on a duck call, shoot a primer pistol and then throw a big white bumper on very short grass at about 75 yards. If he moves, tap him with a heeling stick and say "sit". Then have the bird boy pick up the bumper. He does not get a retrieve unless he's rock solid. If he breaks, the bird boy has time to run out and grab the bumper before the dog gets there.
Denial of a retrieve can be a hard lesson for a driven dog.
As his steadiness improves, you can add in dead birds using the same techniques.
If all goes well...the final test is to use a hooded mallard with quacks and real gunshots. Maintain your line standards! No movement!
What you're doing is gradually instilling steadiness in a non-exciting environment (with the bumpers) then gradually building up the excitement by moving on to birds and then live birds. However, you've already established the standard of no movement with the earlier drills.
I'm not a huge e-collar fan for line work. (I am a strong proponent of e-collars, just not for line work) However, once the standard has been established, and the dog has been taught "no forward movement" you can roll him with a high burn for a break (no! Here!)
Another trick is to teach a reverse heel. You will have to use an e-collar for this. A reverse heel is to let the mark(s) go down and to step backwards a few steps with a heel command while nicking/burning the dog back to a heel position. Be careful with this! But, it does tend to make a dog more aware of his position relative to the handler.
I would suggest you can the Stewart and WaterDog programs and take a look at a Rex Carr based program like Mike Lardy or Evan Graham's programs. I prefer Lardy, but lots of people like Evan's program.
Anyway....just some thoughts. YMMV
I tried it the Stwart way with a dog. Turned out to be a nice dog after I had the dog FF'd and went back to the yard with sequential basics and built momentum rather than working hard as hell at killing momentum. I would not do it again, although there are some good techinques in the traditional UK method of training, which I would never confuse with Stewarts method, since Stewart did not learn to train in the UK.
I am dealing with movement/crouching with my way jacked-up young dog. To elaborate on what Kevin said above, as of this weekend, I am using a very small place board, and a low-mid level continuous "reverse heel" type correction on my firebreather. If the dogs puts a foot off of the platform, "heel/burn/heel." If I have to heel/burn, we pick up the bird right in front of, with her sitting on the board and watching. It seems to be working better than a sit/stick or "taking the dog back to the truck to start over and jacking up the dog even more" to get rid of the movement/noise. After she sees 5 birds picked up, she can suddenly sit on that board quiet as a mouse and still like a statute. Its a work in progress. And has sure taught me that you have to train THIS dog, not the others you trained before THIS dog.
No way in heck would I take a known breaking dog hunting. For any reason. Get control of the dog in a training environment with a bumper/dead bird with shot/shot flyer/shackled runner progression before I would put that dog in a hunting environment and undo all the lessons and make life misearable for other folks with an unsafe breaking dog. YMMV.
So many ducks, so little time . . .
HRCH Ellie Mae MH