E-Collar Shy Brittany?

Mr_Tibbs

New member
Hello All! This is my first post and I'm happy to be here to learn from you all.

I have a question about introduction to the E-Collar for my year old Brittany. Heres a little background:

My wife and I got a male Brittany earlier this year, fully understanding that he might not have hunting potential. However, he has shown pretty good prey drive with rabbits/pigeons/etc.
on our neighborhood walks and we wanted to get him started with some training.

He has had a couple of training sessions this far and has shown great pointing steadiness. His introduction to the gun seems to be going well too. We then moved onto tossing pigeons to get him interested in birds. In our first session, my dog chased pigeons for a hundred yards the first few times before responding well to an e-collar for recall on the lowest setting on the last several. He then stopped following the birds after about 30 yards of flight and returned with reliability without need for stimulation. In our second session, he started out with the collar on and only chased the birds about 30 yards or so again the whole time. He also wasn't ranging out in the brush as far as the first week, but he also knew that we had pigeons in the bag with us, which might have been why he stayed close.

The first session was the first time he ever wore a collar and our plan is to back off the collar for a while. He seemed very interested in the birds, but just didn't pursue then to the same level that he had the very first few flights. Is it possible he is responding to the collar and shutting down a little? Or is he simply learning that chasing the birds for hundreds of yards is fruitless and returning once they are out of reach? I like a dog that works close, but I want to make sure that it is fun for him and he associates birds with being outside. Any insight or recommendations on what might be going on? Or am I reading too much into it?
 
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Dakotazeb

Well-known member
Likely improper use of the e-collar. Using the collar as you did when he was chasing the birds has conditioned him to only chase them so far so he doesn't get shocked. Has he been trained with a verbal command or whistle to return to you? If not, that should have been done first. Only use the e-collar to reinforce what the dog has been trained to do. Take the collar off and work on training him with verbal or whistle commands.
 

Mr_Tibbs

New member
That makes sense. He has not been fully trained with verbal/whistle commands yet. The scenario that led to this situation is as follows:

I took my dog for a one-on-one training session with a guy. After doing some basic obediance training work inside, we head outside to have my dog get some exposure to pigeons. I explain that my dog is very raw on verbal commands and essentially has very little recall ability at this point. Given that fact, I was concerned that he might bolt and run off if we weren't using a check cord or something along those lines. The trainer told me that he would put the collar on and that everything would be fine, he's done it a bunch, etc. I told him he hadn't been exposed to a collar before, but the trainer said that it would be fine and he uses the lowest setting.

We then go outside, and he throws 3 or 4 birds. My dpg takes off after them and ranges out a 150 yards or so before being called back. When he didn't immediately turn around, he was given continuous low peel stimulation until he turned. My dog immediately turned and ran right back to us as of he had been doing it for years. After 3 or 4 birds, he stopped chasing after about 30 yards or so and ran back to us for the next bird. All the mean time, my dog is running around and ranging around out to 50 or 75 yards or so between birds.

Fast forward to our next session, and he is staying in close, waiting for us to throw birds. He knows we have them in the bag, so he is anticipating us throwing then and doesn't range out looking for anything. Once thrown, he repeats the end of the first session by chasing the birds 30 or 40 yards and stopping to return to us.

I think what I'm trying to find out is 1) Is this even concerning, 2) Was it the collar that caused this, and 3) Should I be looking at a different trainer given that this was potentially not the right idea to introduce the collar in this way with my dog? As I mentioned, I dont mind a close working dog, and his enthusiasm for the birds seems to be about the same between the two sessions, the difference being how far he chased the pigeons when thrown.
 
I would keep the collar on the dog just in case he doesn’t return and you need to recall the dog.
I don’t think the dog only ranging 30-50 yards and then returning to you for another pigeon is a bad thing. If you want a dog that works with you in the field then he needs to think the birds come from you. It’s a team effort. If you want a trial dog, then he needs to be independent and learn to run on his own. If you savy with YouTube, check out “standing stone kennels” or
“willow creek kennel”, there are several of free videos you can watch and see what I’m saying about the dog thinking the bird comes from you. They both are positive reinforcement trainers who teach the dog to work with you and for you.
 
You've established your dog has plenty of prey drive, quit throwing birds and put a check cord on him and let him POINT some birds. You don't need an e-collar to do this. I'm in quail country so I plant birds on an edge to get dogs used to hunting edges. I've never had an issue getting a dog "hunting broke" with a check cord and birds.

Training recall is done in the yard as a part of obedience work, and is one place where your e-collar is useful. Be careful with the e-collar and birds, as you don't want any negative associations to birds at a young age. See "blinking".

There are a ton of resources out there both electronic and print. Find one you like and stick to it. Perfect Start/Finish, Training Bird Dogs with Ronnie Smith, Delmar Smith, Training with MO...
 

BritChaser

Well-known member
Are you using a collar with a non-shock stimulus like vibration or a tone? If not, I would get a collar that does so that you have an option that does not inflict pain.
 

Mr_Tibbs

New member
My collar does have vibrate and tone, so I will look into those options with him. At this stage, is it better to get him exposed to birds in the field with a check cord, or should I be letting him range out a little more with the collar on? I won't be shooting over him at this point since he hasn't finished his gun introduction yet. His verbal recall is shakey, but getting better. The only reason I would consider the collar is because he has shown pretty reliable recall with it on. Perhaps the check cord is the safer bet at the moment though?
 
My collar does have vibrate and tone, so I will look into those options with him. At this stage, is it better to get him exposed to birds in the field with a check cord, or should I be letting him range out a little more with the collar on? I won't be shooting over him at this point since he hasn't finished his gun introduction yet. His verbal recall is shakey, but getting better. The only reason I would consider the collar is because he has shown pretty reliable recall with it on. Perhaps the check cord is the safer bet at the moment though?
What are you trying to do? Expose him to birds or train recall? If you're training you should have a plan on what you are training for...every time you go out. There are many ways to train a bird dog, go spend $50 on Amazon and buy a couple of books, and start from the beginning.
If the dog has a lick of hunt in him, all you really need to teach them is to go with you, come to you, and stand still. Teaching them these things is much easier if the dog likes you.
 

BritChaser

Well-known member
My collar does have vibrate and tone, so I will look into those options with him. At this stage, is it better to get him exposed to birds in the field with a check cord, or should I be letting him range out a little more with the collar on? I won't be shooting over him at this point since he hasn't finished his gun introduction yet. His verbal recall is shak

y, but getting better. The only reason I would consider the collar is because he has shown pretty reliable recall with it on. Perhaps the check cord is the safer bet at the moment though?
A check cord is fine to aide in teaching whoa. If your dog runs to the end of the check cord, you could try a poking collar so that when he gets to the end there is some discomfort. Always signal whoa before he reaches the end of the cord. If you walk your dog on a leash, that is a great opportunity to teach whoa, and is how I've taught my dogs to whoa. I use both the word whoa, and a short, one note lip whistle to signal whoa. Put the collar on the dog while walking and say whoa or whistle and vibrate simultaneously and your dog will learn to whoa on vibrate. As you know, silence is golden when pheasant hunting.

With the collar, first teach, then use the collar. I always vibrate first before nicking or shocking, unless an immediate shock is necessary to protect the dog like when he is about to run onto the road when a grain truck is coming or when the dog encounters a rattlesnake.

I teach hand signals too. A lateral arm for the direction and a straight up arm for here. Use them everywhere and everyday around the dog - at home, in the yard, into the car, and afield to indicate direction - and you and your dog will be able hunt effectively in complete silence or with only an occasional whoa signal.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
You have to collar condition the dog before using the collar for correction. You also have to teach commands before correcting with the collar. I would put that collar away until you learn how to use it. The collar is not intended to be a teaching tool. It is used to re-inforce what has already been taught.
 

Kismet

UPH Guru
my year old Brittany
is puppy. Every thing should be fun. Lots of praise and exultation when the right thing is done. Capture, reinforce, and repeat.

Be patient, remember how many mistakes you made when you were young.

Best wishes.
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
What are you trying to accomplish with the ecollar ??? ecollar turned on with birds present - who the the heck does that.

I have trained and hunted behind six Brittanys in the past 40+ years. I have never used an e-collar and have only considered it on dogs that want to chase deer. All of my Britts have done the deer chase thing maybe once and stopped after that ... so never had to go there.

You need to be sooo careful with Brittanys in general. Discipline with voice is all that is usually needed. Even that can be too much on some of the softer Britts in the breed.

I get why the professional trainers use them. It is the most effective and efficient use of their time. If a trainer has eight dogs. That means about 15 - 30 minutes twice a day most days. In the summer mid-day is too hot. In the winter training days are too short on daylight. Time is precious.

Training at home ... all the normal dog commands. Whoa. Check cord. Cap gun / primer only shotshell for gunfire introduction. Patience. I have found no need for an ecollar.

I am not a pigeon guy either.

My dogs all point pretty well from the get go when exposed to birds ... multiple birds once or twice a week vs. a bird in a thrower every day,

Chasing flushed birds ... most dogs learn to go about 30 yards or so ... the range that shots drop them at and then stop ... turn around and ask ... why did you miss ;) or start hunting again. I try to only expose my young Britts to birds in grass and cover, not a wide open field. Running 150 yards ... that is a long ways.

If you want to train to wing and shot, then I am not the right person to ask. My preference is my dogs are on that bird (especially pheasants) quickly.

Books: 1605562533830.png

Smith's have training sessions around the country and a couple videos. I am not a "chain" guy, but appreciate their patience and persistence method to training.
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
My dog ecollar is a garmin gps collar. Just the GPS, no correction prongs. Great for knowing when dog is on point vs. getting a little to far out.

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Mr_Tibbs

New member
Thank you all for the replies. For clarification, I didn't start out with putting the dog on the collar, but was following the instructions of my trainer during our first session together.

On a semi-related note, is it possible to do the gun introduction with my dog alone, if I dont have a helper or access to live birds? Part of why I wanted to work withvthis trainer was because I figured that would be the only way to do the gun introduction and I knew he had access to live pigeons, which I'm not going to be able to get very easily on my suburban lot. Is there a good diy way where one person can handle the gun intro, slowly, without using live birds?
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
Thank you all for the replies. For clarification, I didn't start out with putting the dog on the collar, but was following the instructions of my trainer during our first session together.

On a semi-related note, is it possible to do the gun introduction with my dog alone, if I dont have a helper or access to live birds? Part of why I wanted to work withvthis trainer was because I figured that would be the only way to do the gun introduction and I knew he had access to live pigeons, which I'm not going to be able to get very easily on my suburban lot. Is there a good diy way where one person can handle the gun intro, slowly, without using live birds?
There are plenty of pointing dog clubs out there. Breed specific, point dog specific, NAVHDA, etc... Many have training days (albeit covid may hurt that). Some clubs meet weekly ... some have pigeons or quail ...

I still cannot believe anyone would expose a dog to electric stimulation when the dogs are around birds. Seems like you are messing with disaster. What happened to check cords, whoa and steady ??

Here is what I used to expose my last two dogs to gun fire... no need to buy a pistol. I never have introduced gunfire under the presence of birds. Having two people may be best, but I have done this myself also. Just let the dog get out and run the grass like they get to do a few times a week ... one day you just have a shotgun along ... maybe don't even shoot the cap. next time dog is out a ways and confident ... pop a cap or two.

If your dog is on a check cord, then a second person shooting is probably better.

Combining a point, a bird and gunfire is something I always did later on.
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