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Training question on Pointers vs. Flushers

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After recently loosing my Lab to arthritis, I am looking at various dog breeds. A couple of guys on this site suggested looking at Brittanies and Visalas.

I have always owned flushers and feel confident in training them myself. I have a couple of questions about pointers.

Is training a pointer much different than a flusher? One of my friends owns a Lab that will do both.

Also do all Vizslas and Britts point?

I have heard that it isn't a great idea to mix pointers and flushers in the same field as pointers may see the flushers flush and then the pointers won't hold as well and will develop bad habits.

I don't have much experience with pointers so any help would be appreciated.

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The yard work is the same. Come, sit, lay, heel, stay, and you add whoa for a pointer. The field work is a little different. There are many ways to introduce and train a pointing dog on birds. I'd recommend going to the library and checking out a bunch of books as well as watching a few videos so you have an idea of the concepts. Figure out what seems sensible to you and your pup and start with that. Hook up with an experienced pointer trainer if possible. It's easier to learn when you learn from someone first hand and they know what they're doing.

Britt's and Viszla's better point. If a pointer doesn't point it's a pretty sorry excuse for a pointing dog. Many pointer pups will flush and chase until they figure out they can't catch the bird. Then they'll start flash pointing, and finally they'll point staunchly. If you have access to a lot of wild birds this is a good way to get a pup going. It can try your patience though.

My first GSP pup took out about 40-50 pheasants in Iowa before she started flash pointing and then maybe 10-20 more birds before she stood her game staunchly all the time. As a rookie dog owner I was wondering what the he$$ I bought for a dog after she took out the first 15 birds. A call to the trainer assured me that this was the natural progression. Sure enough, at the end of the first day (and 40 birds later) she started pointing. Her first real point was a pretzel point on a hen pheasant. The bird held so tight that when I went in to flush the bird flew between my legs.

I think it's best hunting flushers and pointers separately or at least far enough apart where they won't interfer with eachother. I know hunting them together can be done but from a practical standpoint I don't think it's a good thing to do. The level of training and consistency from both the dogs and the handlers needed to pull it off successfully is quite high.
Good luck,

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I forgot to add. Do not shoot a bird that the pup has flushed. Only shoot birds that have been pointed. A good way to turn a pointer pup into a flusher is to shoot what it flushes.

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It is OK to hunt both together but you must have the pointer trained well. Most flushing dog owners are out and like the chase as the bird flushes and they do not understand the value of walking up on a pointed bird and then making hte flush, completing the shot and then turning and releasing the dog to get the downed bird.

That said I have both types of dogs and do not hold a bias but have seen many people try and ruin a pointer by not knowing what to do to work them. Dr. Ken Roebuck has a good book out on training pointers and it is also a good book for the beginner. I think it is available through Gun Dog mag, Stover publishing.

I think the people on this site that have pointers really know their stuff. They write what is generally accepted as the training and hunting rules for pointers well and explain problems and training issues well. There is a book also by Boggs that is titled the Vizsla. it is by far one of the best breed books out there and very complete on explaining the breed, its strengths and its tendancies.

By all means as stated. If you want to have a pointer the hardest thing to do is NOT shoot birds that are not pointed. Try telling your friends that too! That is where you run in to differences in hunting techniques. The first couple of seasons if you really work on this you will not have a big problem with the delayed chase.

Until you are 100% sure of your dogs abilites also use a check cord of the right length for your pup. Longer when they are young as you need to do what you can to catch them as the fly by and shorten it up as they learn the game of hunting and pointing.

One thing I found very helpfull in getting them to point and not break is when I work them on birds I NEVER let them retrieve at first. I save the retrieving work for in the yard and also in the water. it breaks up the day, is great conditioning and also gets their heads in the game.

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A very good primer book for training pointers is "The Green Book". It is printed and distributed by NAVHDA. It is a short read, and is very clear. Tried and true.

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92phyton - I have never trained a flushing dog. Only a couple of pointers in my life time. I am know expert. I'm not into knowing all the different philosphies regarding who, how, when and where. I have read a few things. Witnessed a few things. Ask a lot of questions and made a lot of mistakes with my one year old pup. My guess is that practically all the obedience stuff taught in the beginning is the same for both pointers, flushers and all dogs in general. Come, sit, stay, no, down, lay, shake, fetch and heel (to name a few). Don't forget about socialization with both humans and other dogs. Keep all things short, sweet, simple and consistant. Never give a command you can't inforce. Stay in control of yourself and use a gentle quiet nature during obedience sessions. Never under estimate the intelligence of your pup. Make sure they understand what their boundries are. After a few short months of love, care and cultivation you should have a friendly, obedient and civilized puppy.

My sense is that either dog (pointer or flusher/retriever) is born with the God given ability, senses, drive, will to serve and intelligence to do what they were specifically bred to do...and that is hunt. Some are blessed with more than others. Make sure you get the best possible pup you can from the best breeder you can afford. It can make all the difference in the world for a lot of different reasons.

Either breed from good lines (proven dogs) from a good breeder will point...you can bet your bottom dollar on that! It is the retrieving thing you have to watch and spend additional time and attention. Again, it is not that difficult if you have the patience and are committed to working with the pup. Do not mix hunting with training. Trust me it just does not work. Pointing dogs won't hit their prime until their third or fouth year anyway. Remember you are in this with your pup for the long haul.

I really don't think it matters whether a well established or finished pointing dogs hunts occasionally with a flushing dog. I do believe it would be best to keep your pointing puppy separated from flushing pups or dogs until they have proven they understand the whole game - use nose to find bird, point bird, relocate if necessary, hold point, steady to at least wing, mark bird, find bird and finally retrieve bird.

My hat goes off to the really dedicated retriever owner. I believe all the hand signals, whistle signals, blind retrieve and team work involved is much more sophisticated.

The breeder I got my pup sums it up with this statement - Don't worry so much about all that training jazz...just get that pup out in the field...into as many birds as you can. Trust your pups nose and just go have some fun!

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