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Coming Soon: Rethinking Prattle and Pace
By Tom Huggler, Eastern Encounters
I once asked an experienced trainer of pointing dogs what was the most important tool he could recommend. Expecting “the e-collar” for an answer, imagine my surprise when he said, “Duct tape. Nothing is more important than a roll of duct tape.”
“Huh?” I wondered, “How’s that?”
“Tear off a strip as wide as your mouth,” he continued. “Then use your imagination.”
The trainer, who has since retired, explained that most bird dog owners talk too much to their dogs: “Here!,” “Come around!,” and “Hunt ‘em up!” are good examples, repeated far too often, and you may well have your own running commentary of stock phrases.
Why do some of us constantly jabber away or blow on the whistle until our neck veins swell like a soaked clothesline? Is it because we are trying to manage a dog that ranges too far or is otherwise out of control? If so, consider the checkcord or e-collar. They are far more effective than hollering or whistling all the time. If we want the dog to turn left or turn right, we can simply walk that way. A four-footed partner that truly is a “partner” (one that wants to please and hunt with us), will get the idea and fall in. Some of the best ones I’ve owned, mostly setters, learned to take hand signals; one dog that grew deaf relied on hand gestures almost exclusively the last few years of his life. I shot a lot of birds over that faithful pal and sorely miss him today.
Or do we yell and whistle to let the dog know where we are at all times? With few exceptions, our partner always knows where we are, or at least where we last were. To my mind, the well-trained dog wants to hunt with you and for you, and it’s his responsibility to check in, to keep tabs on your whereabouts. A steady stream of noise from us is a reminder that he can freelance anywhere and we will follow him.
I know some hunters, including a couple of highly successful ones, who turn their dogs loose and never expect the animal to check in. Their logic is simple: The dog knows how to find birds, and the more ground he covers, the better the chance he will make contact, so why hold him back? Let him go and then find him—hopefully still on point—with the aid of a beeper or GPS tracker. Although I don’t subscribe to that thinking, I admit that it works for some. It depends mostly on the dog and whether he is mature and experienced.
The rest of this article will appear in the January/February 2013 issue. If you’re a subscriber, stay tuned! This issue will soon mail! The full table of contents is available on our website on our Coming Soon page.
In early December, we launched a redesigned website because let’s face it, we needed to catch up with the times. Here’s what you can expect – we made a few changes this time around – when you visit www.pointingdogjournal.com:
- We removed the Subscriber Only section, so feature articles, which will change at least once every month, will be viewable by all. Our annual Traveling Wingshooter outlooks are still on the website but easier to find and share with others!
- An Online Marketplace for time-sensitive material, such as training seminars, litters, etc. Get the word out fast!
- A new participating feature called “My Bird Dog.” Every month we’ll give you a prompt and you send in a photo for our consideration. The winner and honorable mention will be featured on the website. All winners will be posted for public voting. The overall winner will be featured in an issue of The Pointing Dog Journal.
- Overall, a fresh look and easier ways to sign up for a no-obligation issue, pass along email, subscribe, or renew.
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