You’re out with your canine hunting companion, your gun is slung over your shoulder and you’ve got a good feeling today is going to be a successful hunt. After a while of slowly making your way through the forest, he becomes motionless after picking up a scent. However, he stands still just for a moment before he charges after whatever it is that his nose has picked up. It’s fantastic he’s picked up a scent, but not so great that he didn’t remain still for long enough to point you in its direction. He’s obviously got the nose for it, but he always lacks the patience and discipline to hold point when you’re out on a hunt. His adrenaline always kicks in and he’s off like a shot.
If you could train him to hold point you’d be able to pin point where your prey is. You’d be much more likely to return home with game over your shoulder instead of disappointment.
Training your dog to hold point will not be easy. It requires rigorous obedience training and significant patience. You need to motivate him to want to hunt prey, but instill in him the patience to remain motionless when he finally locks onto something. If he’s young, you have the best chance of success. He should be receptive and you may be able to train him in just a few weeks. If he’s older with years of running wild on hunting trips, then training may take a couple of months before you see consistent results.
Succeed with this training regime though, and you’ll have a formidable hunting partner. He’ll be able to accurately detect your prey and point you in its direction. You’ll also find teaching him any number of other commands will be easier too.
Before you hit the ground running you’ll need to collect a few bits. You’ll need lots of his favorite food or treats to keep him motivated and on task. You’ll also need to commit 20 minutes every other day to training.
A large amount of space will also be needed to train in. Woods or fields should do the job. Bird decoys, scent spray, and a launcher will also help the process along. Apart from that you just need to bring a good degree of patience and an optimistic attitude, then you’re ready to get to work!
I am training my dog for search and rescue. The issue is she finds the hidden training victim quickly, comes back to me to let me know she has found the hidden victim, but then will not go directly back to the victim but rather just remain within 5 yards wandering around, Any idea how I can get her to go directly back to the victim? I have heard of the issue about being “standoffish” but she loves everybody she meets……except in the search scenario. And in may cases she knows and hs found the victim before. Once I reach the victim, she will come in and want to be rewarded. Generally with praise and petting.
We have tried rewarding her with food, balls and soft towel tugs. None have been satisfying to her.
Hello Jerry, Have you tried having the "victim" reward her during training sessions? If not, I would associate the reward with the person she is finding, and have them reward periodically again the longer she stays with them. First, do the training as you currently are, where pup finds the person, comes back to you and is rewarded by you, then add on a find cue for her to return to the victim (use a really long training leash to have the victim reel her back into them if needed). Once she gets back to them after you have given her a return cue, then have the victim reward her. Every few seconds that she stays in place, have them reward again. Gradually space out those rewards until she is only getting a reward for staying in place 5-10 minutes until you get there, at which point you can reward again. Practice this with someone who can help with the training and act as the victim. Practice often until pup is reliably, since pup will obviously not be rewarded by the true victim later. Once pup is reliable during practice, you can phase out the victim rewarding - by then the return cue and eagerness to return to the victim, should be in place, and you can just reward once when you arrive at the victim and pup is waiting there for you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
I need to add that we have changed her reward from food, to ball, towel chase and tug to just playing with her. With each she responded initially, then changed to not responding. We changed and went through the same short term response with each.
I have been doing this or 25 years. This is my third dog and have never had this problem before. All the things you suggested are normal training procedures that I use and train other handlers with these early on techniques. The dog was doing great and then suddenly changed. She found the training victim, returned to me and led me to the victim and stayed with the victim until I got there. She was rewarded for her work. Now she finds the victim, returns the runs by the victim and goes off and begins to play. Unless there is another victim and if I tell her to find more she takes off and finds the next victim and repeats the same behavior. How do I get her to stay with the victim until I get there.
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