Dog is “soft”

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RatDog
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Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:23 pm

Picked up my 10 mo old Britt from the trainer today. He said that the dog had shut down and he was at a standstill so I went and got him and going to try and have some fun for the rest of the season and see where we end up. He’s always been “soft,” for example if he hit his leg on the furniture you’d swear he was dying or when trying to introduce lead work he’d just howl and cry. We took him out and he was slow to get going and made some lame casts of about 30-50 yards not really hunting. When given the whoa command and corrected for moving he pitched a fit and proceeded to mope around for a while before eventually going back to making a less than impressive effort at finding birds.

The only birds we found flushed wild but the trainer said when he has worked him on planted birds he has to work him back and forth right up to the bird at which point he will flash point but if he is held with the check cord he loses interest.

I don’t have anything to lose at this point so I’m going to put him on as many wild birds as I can for the rest of the season. Just let him bump and run. Hopefully something clicks as far as firing him up and tapping into whatever drive is there. I’m a total newb at this but he doesn’t seem like he’s got what it takes to make much of a bird dog.

Thinking after the season I’ll start shopping around for some 1-2 year old started dogs so I can see what I’m getting into. It’s been quite the learning process. I didn’t really know what to look for when choosing a breeder and although I’m confident I chose a “reputable” one there’s much more to it I just wasn’t aware of i.e. observing how much drive or how far out one or both of the parents work, knowing what to look for in the actual pedigree as opposed to just getting a recommendation. Even if you do everything right and pick exactly the right line of dogs it still seems like such a crapshoot getting a puppy. Maybe I’m the soft one but I don’t think I can handle the disappointment again if the next one’s a dud. Certainly open to suggestions or words of wisdom.


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by shags » Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:17 am

You've had this problem with the dog since the beginning, no?

IME this stuff is the result of the dog having a screw loose, which is very difficult to fix because that's just how he's wired; or a major attitude problem which may or may not be fixable. Given that he tends to overreact to any kind of correction in any situation I'd go with the loose screw.

I know your pain. :(

Because the dog is still so young your plan to just let him do his own thing on birds this year might instill enough drive to give you something to work with. I've heard of folks successfully letting or encouraging low-drive dogs chase rabbits and squirrels also in hopes of lighting a fire in them. Have you run your pup with other dogs? Sometimes being with a 'normal' dog loosens them up by example; sometimes they respond to having some competition. With your dog, I'd be careful about choosing a bracemate, you don't want one that needs a lot of hacking and verbal guidance. Try to find one that works close and busy for now, maybe another young dog that works happy and not too workmanlike.

Good luck.

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:42 am

Yes. He’s been difficult from the jump. I haven’t run him with other dogs because I don’t have access but both trainers said they tried that without much luck. Honestly at this point I’m not trying to fix the problem. Just gonna go hunting and hope for a miracle. Going to cut my losses and start over in the offseason unless divine intervention occurs.

About to head out and try to find some sharpies here in NW NODAK so see how she goes


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mm
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by mm » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:41 am

10 months seems young to already have been with 2 trainers. What you are about to do is the right thing. Lots of people let them just happy run for the first year with no pressure. I let them run and chase a full year with no pressure and then start to break them.
mm

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:02 am

I won’t bore you with the back story but I’m aware that, that’s not necessarily the conventional route. It’s not that I expect him to be a finished product at this point and he’s struggling with the finer points. More that he has consistently shown several very difficult attributes to work with that make me believe that it would take more time/effort/money to get where I want to be than I’m willing to spend


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by SwitchGrassWPG » Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:39 pm

A couple questions...

Dog is 10 months old. How much of that time has been with trainers and not at home? When you had the dog at home, did the dog understand the commands given? What basic initial exposure did you give the dog to the field, birds, etc.?

Have you contacted the breeder? If really unhappy with the dog, perhaps returning the dog to the breeder is the best option.
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by weimdogman » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:09 pm

Maybe that dogs getting whacked out at 4 months effected him more then anyone thought likely?

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:22 pm

[IMG]//uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/202009 ... 708d8a.jpg[/IMG]
If his daddy could shoot straight we would’ve got our three sharpies. Probably put up another 30 pheasants while we were at it so productive day. He was working out to a decent distance. Still having the same issue with him seeming to run around and not actually use his nose/hunt. He didn’t really find any of them, might’ve bumped a couple. After one of the flushes he wouldn’t come with and wanted to just do circles around where the bird got up so I gradually worked the collar stimulation up until he yelped at which point I walked back almost to him and got him to come along. Other than that no real issues. Good times were had by all


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:43 pm

SwitchGrassWPG wrote:A couple questions...

Dog is 10 months old. How much of that time has been with trainers and not at home? When you had the dog at home, did the dog understand the commands given? What basic initial exposure did you give the dog to the field, birds, etc.?

Have you contacted the breeder? If really unhappy with the dog, perhaps returning the dog to the breeder is the best option.
About half and half. I had him the first three months. He went to a trainer for “puppy development”. As I understand it daily exposure to pigeons with a check cord and intro to lead work, recall and retrieve. No commands were established but he knew how to quarter and understood he was looking for birds and would flash point. I had him a couple of more months basically continuing the same program then he went to the second trainer. As far as I could tell he was primarily focused on whoa breaking him. He clearly understands what whoa means and what’s expected of him but most of the time doesn’t comply unless you pop him with the cord/pick him up and move him back and then shuts down for a while after.

When I would ask for updates both trainers would say things like he throws fits or he wanted it his way and that it was slow going. At this point things have gotten pretty convoluted, totally my fault, so to be honest I’m not sure where we are at.

To answer your question about the breeder it was her stud and the dam was a guy who is not a professional breeder. It was a repeat litter and they both told me the previous litter had had good success both in trials and as gun dogs. I did not doing anything about actually looking into those results. I suppose I haven’t totally made up my mind so I haven’t broached the subject of possibly giving him back. Not really a convo I relish the prospect of but that will be my first option if that’s the route I decide to go.


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by Sharon » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:45 pm

I'm no expert, but having just read your post, I wouldn't use that e collar at all around bird activity- even circling.
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:46 pm

weimdogman wrote:Maybe that dogs getting whacked out at 4 months effected him more then anyone thought likely?
I was about to ask what you were talking about then I remembered the incident with my wife’s “medicine” Image that made me chuckle. I’m confident he no worse for the wear after that little misadventure. I mean shoot I like to think I turned out ok


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:00 pm

Sharon wrote:I'm no expert, but having just read your post, I wouldn't use that e collar at all around bird activity- even circling.
Fair point. The bird was long gone and I had walked almost out of sight. Grab the check cord before I move on? Walk all the way back until I can just grab the cord? I was hoping if I got far enough away and gave him really light stim he’d just come with but didn’t work out that way


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by Dakotazeb » Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:53 am

Being a Brittany guy in the Dakotas I'm curious where you got your dog from and what the pedigree is. If you don't want to share that info publicly then send me a PM. I might also be able to give you some excellent recommendations for another Brittany pup in your area. Where are you at in No Dak?

As others have said, 10 months is still a very young dog and I wouldn't even consider taking a dog that age to a trainer unless it was just for some basic obedience training. Get the dog out and on as many birds as possible this fall and see how he does.
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by averageguy » Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:31 am

Your plan to hunt the pup with low no pressure is the right plan given what you have described. That approach gives the pup its best chance and you a clear conscience and best information for making a decision down the road.

I would not use any stimulation around birds on a pup such as you have described, including pottering on scent where a bird just got up, until the pup's bird drive is way higher. Soft dogs can be very unforgiving and prone to mis-interpreting corrections in situations as you described.

Best of Luck, the pup might surprise you.

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by gonehuntin' » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:39 am

Remember that not all dog's mature at the same rate. I had a setter about 20 years ago that was a worthless piece of garbage at 10 months. He was my son's pet and though I wanted to end his miserable existance, I didn't. I sent him to a trainer because I was far to busy to work him and didn't have good bird access. The trainer, a very good one, turned him around in two months and he made my best setter I ever owned. At 10 months he hated birds, wouldn't point, didn't like water. By the time he was three, he'd retrieve ducks. I don't give them much time to show potential but had I junked this mutt it would have been a huge mistake.
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:52 pm

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:52 pm

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:03 pm

Only had a couple of hours in the evening but ran Tubbs some. Put up a couple sharpies but all flushed wild. I let fly at a couple and felt ridiculous when I realized how far they were. I think it was Teddy Roosevelt or someone who said “when lead is in the air there is hope.” He flushed several pheasants down in the bottoms and I was sure to give him attaboys.


Thanks for the helpful feedback!


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by cjhills » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:27 am

RatDog
I am not going to offer an opinion without knowing the dog or how his training went. Maybe some dogs just don't get it. I never believed that, but it is possible. I always think it is a training issue and try to find a cure. I am always on the dogs side.
Some very intelligent dogs develop bad habits or get the wrong idea in their head from some training issue that the trainer does not even notice. It can take a lot of patience and training to change their mind.
I had a guy at a training day launch a bird in my dogs face, in her long life she never pointed a launcher again. This dog was at least as smart as me.
It does seem like this dog may have been pushed too hard early and maybe put in situations where he was intimidated. Perhaps he was scared by a launcher when he was very young or even scared of the birds. He may be intimidated by the gun and knows the it goes off when the bird flies. Easy to miss some signs that things are going wrong. A lot of very good trainers do not have patience or time to waste on a slow training dog.
I think you are on the right track with letting him have fun. If he will chase let him. Take only easy shots or no shots.
Well bred dogs usually figure it out. Some don't I guess.
Patience and fun might help him.........Cj

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:11 pm

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Ok, so some really cool stuff happened today. I put up the biggest covey of huns I’ve ever seen and more importantly I saw Tubbs smell some birds and kind of sort of point one. A couple of times I could tell he was using his nose and noticed a distinct change in body language and then we would flush a bird. At the end of the day I saw him get birdy then he stopped and looked at me, I walked forward a bit and a hen pheasant got up right in front of him. It was awesome, I gave him a lot of praise


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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RatDog » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:40 pm

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by Dakotazeb » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:56 pm

RatDog wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:11 pm
Ok, so some really cool stuff happened today. I put up the biggest covey of huns I’ve ever seen and more importantly I saw Tubbs smell some birds and kind of sort of point one. A couple of times I could tell he was using his nose and noticed a distinct change in body language and then we would flush a bird. At the end of the day I saw him get birdy then he stopped and looked at me, I walked forward a bit and a hen pheasant got up right in front of him. It was awesome, I gave him a lot of praise


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Great report. Keep doing what you're doing. He appears to be figuring some things out. Give him time, you will probably be pleasantly surprised next year on how much he's improved. In my experience most dogs don't really get it all figured out until age 4-5. When my current Brit was about a year old I didn't think she had a nose at all. Didn't think she could smell her own fart. Now she has a great nose. Every dog is different and matures at their own pace. I think Tubbs will end up being one heck of a dog.
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by cjhills » Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:40 pm

AWESOME...........Cj

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by RyanDoolittle » Sun Oct 04, 2020 4:14 pm

Took me 3 seasons of hunting a dog like this to realize it was a dud and not worth feeding. He would string me along with "glimmers of hope" like what your dog is doing. However st the end of season I would be frustrated, angry, and pushed farther and farther away from bird hunting.

Take it from some experience, run your dog for hunting season, but at the end of the year if he isnt pointing birds real nice and doing what he should be, dont waste anymore time. Move the dog down the road and buy yourself something nice. There just isnt enough time in our lives to waste it on something that isnt exactly what we want. There are tons of well bred dogs born every year, and alot of really nice started dogs that get sold every year. For $2500 you could purchase a really nice 1.5-2 year old dog that has spent a couple summers on the prairie running on wild birds. You couldnt buy a puppy and send him to the prairie for 2 summers for that price.

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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by ddoyle » Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:13 am

I know I sound like a recording but reach out to Perfection Kennels. Have been doing twice a week Facebook live sessions. He takes questions and even asks you to send in video. Respect everyone here just imagine Jon has saved more “soft” dogs than anyone.
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Re: Dog is “soft”

Post by oregon woodsmoke » Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:25 pm

Soft dogs need soft and quiet training methods, more approval and less punishment. Professional trainers often don't have the time for it. They need to show results fast.

The dog was out with a trainer working birds at three months old? Did I read that correctly? At three months my pups are learning to come to me every time I call them, learning what toys they are allowed to chew, and getting their house training watched over. They go for nice walks in the country, practicing the occasional recall.

Out with a trainer working birds at three months. Wow.

Just take the dog out and putter around. You've taught him (or your trainer has taught him) that hunting is a miserable experience. Take the pressure off until he discovers he is having a nice time. Also you want him to discover that he enjoys working with you.

He might never be a competition dog, but he will come around to the point where you can have a nice day out walking the fields with him.

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