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Re: Training Methods

The Ryman Setters Forum Forums Training Training Methods Re: Training Methods

October Setters


    We haven’t seen the DVD you mentioned so can’t comment on it but it sounds interesting.  

    We basically teach puppies to come on command, get them shot over as described in the “How Do You Introduce Guns?” thread, and take them hunting.  We wait until after their first season and until they are pointing/handling wild birds before doing any serious training.  Most will perform acceptably with no further training, some will require staunching up.  Pups also get some play retrieving (this comes in handy if they hesitate to pick up a bird – see this video of Gen’s first retrieve for example) and whoa training but only a basic introduction to “Whoa” to teach them what it means.  The description of these last two in “Troubles With Bird Dogs” (by George Evans) is pretty much how we do it.  We’ve posted videos of introducing these drills to three pups on our BLOG.

    We learned how to train mostly by taking private lessons with Errol and Jason Gooding.  It’s the best money we ever spent on training.  The rest we picked up here and there and/or through experience.  

    I do want to point out a few common mistakes we think are important to avoid when developing a Ryman type pup.  These are simple things that will make a huge difference in how your pup turns out.

    1) Trying to do too much when the pup is too young is a very common mistake.  You want the pup to turn out great so you go overboard on drilling and training.  You need control so basic obedience is important but a pup needs to have fun within the bounds of being under control.  They need to learn to keep track of you while hunting, figure out what they’re looking for, where to look, how to locate birds, how close they can get before flushing the bird, etc.  They also need to be more mature to handle more advanced training, like staunchness on point.  As long as they are under control less is usually more when developing Ryman type pups.

    2) There are numerous versions of the “Never let the pup make a mistake” training philosophy out there.  We don’t recommend taking this approach.  They can’t learn much if they never go out and figure anything out for themselves.  If they never bump a grouse, how can they know how close they can get before flushing the bird?  They have to learn from their mistakes just like you and I do.  They’re smart and they’ll figure it out but only if you give them the chance.  In addition, too much control of young Ryman type pups will impede their development.  You want them to develop confidence and learn to explore and learn and you don’t want to take any enthusiasm out of them.  It’s much better to let them get wild and crazy, then try to pull them back a bit than it is to try to get them to open up if they’ve been inhibited for too long.

    3) When “whoa” training you have to learn to let the dog decide when to stop and point.  We’ve all too often heard someone advise to whoa a dog as soon as it hits scent.  Most of this is a result of training dogs for “hunting” planted birds.  If you hunt wild birds you will be poorly served by this advice.  You can’t smell the birds, you can’t read the dog’s mind to know what he can smell, you have no idea if the dog really has a bird located.  Therefore you can’t tell him when it’s time to stop.  Period.  The dog has to make that decision for itself.  There are times you’ll want to give the whoa command after a point is established but not before.  The same is true when following a running bird.  The dog knows when the bird has run and should be permitted to relocate on its own.  Standing there pointing where a bird was a few minutes ago is senseless.    

    If we have to staunch up one of our dogs after they’ve learned to handle birds our goal is teaching them they aren’t allowed to flush the bird.  They can get as close as they choose, follow runners however they please, whatever they do is OK except flushing the bird, so you should only correct the dog if it flushes the bird.  That’s not the same as a running bird flushing wild at a distance, only correct the dog if the bird is flushed on purpose.  Once they get his down they will instantly be good dogs.  They’ve already learned how to point birds, even when they were flushing them on purpose, so once they know they have to hold point they are pretty much finished.


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