Breaking

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Breaking

Postby xxDuckWildxx » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:11 am

Hi all,
I have a yellow lab male that is 14 months old and he is the first dog i've trained and owned. I've trained him on obedience since he first came to live with me at 9 weeks of age. He does really well (I think) most of the time with listening to commands. But he is bull-headed. He seems to listen great if he thinks there's something in it for him. He can tend to blow me off if he thinks he knows better than me. I've got him steady as a rock on training marks (singles, doubles, triples land and water, with gunfire) and he never forgets a mark. The problem I'm having is this: I took him on his first dove hunt last week and he stayed put pretty well for the most part, considering action was slow. The first time I shot, I missed, but the gun seemed to give the dog the cue to retrieve so he took off in the direction I shot, looking frantically for a fallen bird. I recalled him to heel and he stayed put. Next time I shot, same result. Next shot ended up with a dead dove, but the dog did not mark it because he was frantically running around after the shot. I had to line him up for a blind retrieve which he has little experience with. I sent him and he ran enthusiastically right over the dove, wasn't able to whistle stop him. I eventually had to send him from about 10 yards from the fall and he was able to find it. So, the next day I put a tie out stake in my yard, threw a bumper and shot and he broke but hung himself with the tether. The next two times he did not break. Last night we went out for another dove hunt, I brought the stake and tether and he behaved well. No doves flying so I threw three bumpers for him in high grass/cover, but each time he broke and hung himself with the tether. I know you are supposed to end on a positive, but I was afraid he'd hurt himself. How do I stop this??
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Re: Breaking

Postby Duckdon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:31 am

Sounds like your on the right track, just not there yet. Basic OB is less than steller or you would not be here.
I assume it's your 14 month old pups first hunting experiences so he is learning. I do tie breaking dogs, usually with a 4' chain. I have used a 25 foot rope on dogs that are really hard to break. They hit the end of that 25' lead a couple times and you have their attention. You don't mention an e-collar. Guess what I am thinking is you need to turn up the pressure high enough to overcome the desire of non-compliance. I try real hard to never allow a retrieve unless the dog does everything correctly.
As far as handling those frantic, running around wild searching moments, I teach "Down" and will blow a dog down, let them relax and get their brain back on track. A few minutes "DOWN" and then allow them to "easy" search or resend on a line. Good luck.
Are you following any sort of retriever training program and if not, why not. Don
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Re: Breaking

Postby Duckdon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:33 am

Sorry, forgot to mention it is real important to handle your dog until he is managable. Get someone else to do the shooting, you do the training in the hunting field. Put up the gun. Don
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Re: Breaking

Postby Dakota Creek » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:52 am

Duckdon wrote:Get someone else to do the shooting, you do the training in the hunting field. Put up the gun.


THIS ^^^^^ until the dog has "some" hunting experience. This will allow you to concentrate on working with the dog (for the next fews trips into the field to hunt) in marking, steadiness and retrieving back to you.
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Re: Breaking

Postby dogyak » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:01 am

Very sound advise above :thumbsup:
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Re: Breaking

Postby Edge » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:20 am

I have been trew this with most of my dogs, they hit that teenager type of attitude where they know everything. Just have to reel em back in. I always use the rope like Duckdon said, a couple sudden stops will do the trick.
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Re: Breaking

Postby xxDuckWildxx » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:32 pm

Thanks for the advice guys. I should have said I've been using Dokken's book and I have the "Water Dog" video. They are similar in their approach. I've progressed through obedience using treats, then leash on flat collar, leash on prong collar, and for the last month I've new firming up obedience with e-collar. He has not been force-fetched. I almost sent him away for FF a couple weeks ago but a buddy of mine who occasionally helps train (he's trained his own to SH) talked me out of it. Since I've been really working on the positive reinforcement, delivery to hand and hold have not been an issue in training. I'm kind of confused and lost at this point because Dokken's book is one way, my buddy is the opposite and I've been reading a bunch of stuff by Mike Stewart and he's different yet. A lot of what I'm reading from Stewart seems to make sense and apply to my dog. I haven't really worked on blinds or casting at all (my buddy and i did a little of this a couple months ago and the dog seemed to pick up on it). II talked my buddy out of continuing with it because Dokken's says wait until the dog has a full season under his belt before you start handling. Now I read Stewart and he says start it early? :huh: I've got the dog recalling on a 3 note whistle and sitting on a 1 note whistle. He will not "stop" on whistle. Dokken's hasn't taught me how to do that yet (seems to be another flaw with this program). Also, I should note that I really don't have anyone to consistently help with training or hunting, seems everyone has crazy schedules these days. I swear, every time I feel like I'm making progress I realize I've been going backward the whole time!
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Re: Breaking

Postby GarDuck » Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:18 am

Duckdon wrote:Sorry, forgot to mention it is real important to handle your dog until he is managable. Get someone else to do the shooting, you do the training in the hunting field. Put up the gun. Don


This goes for any new hunting scenario and is very sound hunting advice put down the gun for your first trips out and you'll have a lifetime of shooting with a dog thats in control.
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Re: Breaking

Postby rivercountry » Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:43 am

All of this sounds like really good advice and sitting back just working the dog is as much fun if not more than shooting alot of the time for me. Jump on that problem now before it becomes more of an issue that will be even harder to correct later down the road. :thumbsup:
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Re: Breaking

Postby labman63 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:05 am

My question is what did you do the first time he broke? That's is the biggest thing in a hunting dog I will not tolerate. If he knows in training to sit still( have you shot live birds in training?) but breaks in hunting he would have got a stern lesson=azz whoopin.
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Re: Breaking

Postby CatSquirrel » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:54 am

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
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Re: Breaking

Postby Rick Hall » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:28 am

CatSquirrel wrote:Denial of a retrieve can be a hard lesson for a driven dog.


In my experience, that's huge. A dog that's apt to continue breaking and take his whoopin' as long as he's still getting his retrieve will likely shape up nicely when breaking starts costing him those retrieves.
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Re: Breaking

Postby Dawnsearlylight » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:55 am

Rick Hall wrote:
CatSquirrel wrote:Denial of a retrieve can be a hard lesson for a driven dog.


In my experience, that's huge. A dog that's apt to continue breaking and take his whoopin' as long as he's still getting his retrieve will likely shape up nicely when breaking starts costing him those retrieves.



Worst.punishment.ever., at least for my dogs. If you let the dog complete the retrieve when he breaks, you are effectively rewarding the break, thus teaching him to do it. Not fair to the dog. :no:

One mistake I see some folks make is failure to incorporate no-birds as soon as they start formal marks. The dog gets the idea that he will be sent every time something drops out of the sky; the hotter my dog, the more no-birds he gets to sit through. Yes, I am an evil beeyotch. :biggrin:
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Re: Breaking

Postby Gulfcoast » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:27 am

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.
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Re: Breaking

Postby xxDuckWildxx » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:27 pm

Thanks guys for all the advice. Things have been weird the last two weeks, the pup ended up tweaking his left leg somehow. (My guess is running around the yard like an idiot after dropping a deuce). So the vet put him on 2 weeks of "leash only" time, no running. He also decided in these last two weeks he is afraid of eating breakfast? Go figure. The leash restrictions are just about over, so I'm anxious to see how much ground we've lost in training. Wish me luck!
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Re: Breaking

Postby colton341 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:43 am

Bang him on the collar as soon as he breaks. All it takes is a couple of times and the dog will know not to break.
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Re: Breaking

Postby CatSquirrel » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:17 pm

colton341 wrote:Bang him on the collar as soon as he breaks. All it takes is a couple of times and the dog will know not to break.


I do not agree with this for a young dog. I prefer to instill steadiness by teaching the dog a no movement standard first.

Now...an older dog who knows what is expected? Roll him on a break.
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Re: Breaking

Postby colton341 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:38 am

14 months is way to old to be breaking and line manners should be solid by then. Banging them with high correction on the collar a couple of times will cure this problem.
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Re: Breaking

Postby SoupSandwich99 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:02 am

Denial of the retrieve is the most important tool for fixing this problem, followed up closely by simply not letting your dog retrieve every time something falls from the sky. I would say the more revved up the dog is about retrieving, the lesser percentage of retrieves allowed. Ask me how I know.

You might also ask yourself what you can live with. Put another way, do a cost-benefit analysis. I admire those of you who insist on no movement at the line, but my dog and I have struck a bargain that he can move anything he wants other than his rear end. If rear end comes up, then the hammer comes down, because no dog moves forward to a break without first coming up off the ground.

A very good pro advised me to live with the crouching and foot movement, first because the rear end coming up is black-and-white and thus fairly punishable even for a very high-drive dog, and second because the fight to stop all movement would likely take out some or all of the good parts as well.

As always, YMMV.
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Re: Breaking

Postby labsforme » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:50 am

"Banging them with high correction on the collar a couple of times will cure this problem."
I disagree. You can really start getting no gos and other issues with this. I agree with Cat/Kevin. Set the standard of sit MEANS sit!!! Deny retrieve.Heeling stick pressure much better.No movement on the line.If does,stop, correct with stick pressure,each dog needs more or less based on personality. Do heeling drills beforehand to make sure the dog knows you are in control.

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