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2 DA GILLS

Pointers & Cripples - Need some help

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OK - I am sure I am going to get a whole range of answers and someone will tell I am doing something completely wrong, but I am going to ask anyway.

Is there something I can do to help my dog understand the difference between a crippled bird and the ones I actually want him to point? At times he does fine with it, but other times he points the cripples and it is a never ending point & chase. He is in his 4th hunting season and I would estimate that he has had 300+ birds shot over him between hunting and training.

There are some different scenarios here:

1) Bird is pointed in grassy area - flush (dog has visual on bird) - shot - cripple - chase - recovery. Those are easy ones.

2) Bird is pointed in cattails - flush (dog has no visual on bird) - shot - cripple - dog still holding point - dog called to area of downed bird - cuts track - back into cattails - pointing game begins

He has been FF trained, but his pointing instinct is very strong - almost too strong. It is really only an issue with very heavy cover such as cattails (where I do a lot of my hunting). Any tips or training tricks I can use, but still make sure I maintain his steady points? I do not want to lose his rock solid points, but I am a bad shot.

Maybe my solution is to join a trap league next summer and become a better shot. The birds are being pointed for me - there is no excuse.

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Having only trained flushers, I've always wondered when another owner of a flusher gives the command "dead bird". IMO its not needed but I guess if there's an amount of time from shot to recovering it could help to coax a flushing dog to work.

In your case you want the dog to do something that is opposite of what you trained him to do. To him the cripple is just a live bird. I know some pointer guys that will say that comes with the territory. I know one in particular that doesn't feel that way and has no problem commanding his rock solid pointer to flush in some cases. One scenario is just like yours, cripples in cattails. It sounds like the dog is solid on his pointing and IMO wouldn't do the following unless he was. If your getting him on that many birds it won't be hard to incorporate another training exercise with a command(dead bird) for that purpose, breaking off a point to retrieve.

Its just a matter of how you do that.

Start out with retrieving sessions in cover. Send him off like you do, when hes about to pick the bird up give a command (dead bird). Lots of reps there, and actually something that could have been done at his first retrieves.

I'd simulate a hunt and start out with a dead bird hidden.

If he points let him hold a point, then command him to retrieve followed by dead bird. To keep him honest I'd mix that in with live birds in your normal pointing routine.

I'd then change from a dead bird to a shackled bird.

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First off, every dog can be different. My 11 year old gsp has pointed cripples most of her life. Sometimes she'll chase and fetch, but she's just as likely to point it. The new 8 month old just has a knack for knowing. I can't explain why.

That said, I do work on the "Dead Bird - Fetch" command a lot. Even the older female understands that when I give that command it's OK to break and catch the bird. Even on a bird that goes down dead and they are heading to retrieve I give the command so that hopefully they begin to put that command together with physically picking up a bird and bringing it back to me.

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If he's been through the Trained Retrieve then he should understand that when the command is given he is to retrieve no matter what. That he is not suggests that he may need a refresher course or some situational training.

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gspman,

That is the response I anticipated. The strange thing is that he spent a month with a pro trainer in August and he said his FF was solid. That being said, I am not sure that the cattail scenario described was worked on specifically. Grassy areas - no issue. Cattails - problem.

This fall we just started using the "dead bird" command to help with the search. It has worked on ducks, but not as well on pheasants.

Thanks for the suggestions and comments.

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Not sure how my Britt figured it out, but when he hear's the shot and sees the bird go down, he heads straight for the bird and retrieve. Wish I could say I did something to teach him, but that credit goes to the dog. grin

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My setter Buddy points dead birds fairly regularly and I see no problem with it. He is very honest with grouse and that just carrys over to pointing dead birds. I do use the dead command but I am very careful with it because sometimes I think he is pointing a dead bird and it is another live bird holding tight in the same area.

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Hey Chris..... Frank is correct with regard to the "dead bird" command.

I use it with Belle and do not have an issue with her pointing a cripple. Need to start with training sessions. What is really cool about it is now when a bird is shot that she does not see, I can take her to the spot and tell her dead bird. She immediately starts circling until she picks up a scent and then starts her track if it is a cripple. You can use the command in the yard with a dummy and also when throwing out a dead bird. Then work up to a shackled bird that Zeus can see, fire a shot in the air and then send him with the dead bird command. He should chase it down. This should not stop him from pointing birds that have not been shot at. Hopefully her with make a connection between a gun shot and a dead or crippled bird.

We had a funny situation a few weeks back in SODAK. Belle pointed a rooster and I flushed it right in front of her. I then shot the bird out about forty yards. I sent her for the retrieve and when she got to the spot where it went down she went on point again. I started to walked up to her and a bird flushed to my big surprise. I thought it was the same bird, was completely off guard, shot and missed. I really felt bad thinking a wounded bird had gotten away. Belle then went forward about 5 yards and picked up the first bird which had landed very close to the bird that we missed. How she knew the difference is beyond me...

Hopefully we can get out in December and discuss further..

Good hunting.....

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I had a bird come down alive in a giant crp field this weekend. As I was walking toward where it went down and where the dog was the grass in front of me moved and then froze. Thinking this was the bird I watched Dixie follow the trail my way and point about 2 feet from where the grass quit moving. I said "fetch" and she dove in and got the bird.

I think once you can get your dog to break point and fetch what it's pointing it'll be fine. This might come with more experience or you may need to do the situational training as mentioned earlier.

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