Guide to imprinting tracking

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  • Guide to imprinting tracking

    Teaching a dog to track properly is a time consuming yet rewarding experience.

    I have spent many a pre-dawn morning laying out a track and teaching dogs to follow the scent. There are various ways to teach a dog to track, depending on your ultimate goal, your dog’s temperament or character traits and a few other variables can dictate the right methods for you and your dog.

    I haven’t trained dogs to track prey (such as deer, pigs foxes etc.) only human scent. However I have tracked prey with other peoples dogs and I believe the principles are the same.

    What I have listed below is NOT the only way to train tracking, its what I have found that works best for me. I have tried a few methods but this is what I have found to give the best results. I have learnt most of this through others who have had years of competitive and/or service experience.

    There are detailed manuals on teaching tracking, I will try to describe the key points (basics) which I think should be enough to get those interested started. I believe using experienced dogs to show younger dogs is one way of going about it. However I find the best way to get the most consistent results is to imprint the dog properly from the beginning. One problem with using others dogs is your dog can easily get the others bad habits (you also obviously need to have decent tracking dogs available as well).

    Scents dogs and tracks
    Everyone knows dogs have an amazing sense of smell, up to 100million times more sensitive than humans (same dog breeds better than others). It is truly amazing and scientists are continuing to learn more about it all the time. Dogs already know how to smell, however with tracking we want to teach them too use their smell for our purposes, which is sometimes not as simple as it seems. We want the dogs to find the scent we want them to, then stay and follow it until it either completely disappears or the target is found.

    Many people don’t realise when a dog tracks scent it generally is not following the smell of the target, but the smell of the broken ground that the target has made. When you or an animal treads on the ground it breaks the surface, unsettles scents and provides the dog a significant difference in smells (between the trodden and clean ground). Hence tracking on soft ground (esp grass) is much easier than hard surfaces.

    Wind can be very difficult to track in and should be left for more experienced dogs (you will easily create mistakes which can imprint undesirable traits in dogs). On windy days dogs will often follow a track several feet down wind of the track. If the wind is gusty it becomes much more difficult. Rain can help scent (just is uncomfortable).

    Basic principles of tracking
    Dog training is always most effective when you work with the dog and the dog wants to do the task at hand. Tracking should be a fun experience for the dog, if you are in a bad mood, don’t track and wait for another day. Dogs are extremely habitual (ie they pick up habits quickly - good and bad). Like with all training dogs you want them to start off with good habits, the best way to do this is to train/track with small - small steps. Slowly increasing time, difficulty as the dog progresses. For example, start tracking in good weather (light to no wind, still morning perfect) in good terrain. (Soft grassy type ground). When successful try out on harder surfaces or a windier day (not both at once). When successful try both harder ground and windy. If you push it a little too hard go back to the basics and work your way up again. Don’t keep pushing it.

    If a dog goes off track, lifts head, gets distracted by objects other animals etc. a correction may be needed. Corrections in tracking should be very mild, usually a slight voice correction and/or a gentle jerk on the lead is more than enough (unless you have a very high drive, alpha type dog). Just enough to get the dog to focus again, then a calm ‘good boy/girl’ so they know they are doing the right thing.

    It is all about ‘Reading your dog’. This means look and see what sort of mood/drive/focus they are in. If they are getting hyped and losing focus they need to be calmed, if they are bored they need to be made to become interested (not through correction but through cohesion – food, toy, ball etc.) If the dog shys away too much by a heavier correction make them softer, if they are ignoring your correction increase intensity a bit. I find in tracking you are better to be too soft then increase than vice versa as it can be hard to get the dog re focussed with a heavy correction.

    Imprinting Tracking

    Scent pad
    You can imprint tracking in pups from a very young age by use of a ‘scent pad’. A scent pad essentially is a small area (1-3m x 1-3m) where the whole area is covered in scent. It is easy to do with human scent by treading on the ground, preferably grass as it’s the easiest on the dog. You want go to a location with as few distractions as possible (preferable no other people/dogs animals around). Early mornings usually best for tracking as dogs have had a sleep, no food and are more focussed.

    For animal tracking you will have to use your imagination, I would tread a deer/pig/fox skin into the area to create the pad. You then put small pieces of food (cooked liver is great) into the grass so it cant be seen. Dogs will use their eyes not smell when given the chance. The whole area needs to be covered in scent and food buried within. Mark around the outside corners of the area with white builders chalk (its scentless). So you know the location of the scent pad. Leave the pad for 20mins. Then bring puppy on lead (so you have control) to it and give him/her a tracking command (eg ‘seek’, ‘track’ ‘tsuuk’ etc). Puppy should start smelling for the food. When he/she start to sniff the unscented ground (outside of the marked scent pad area) gentle no and point him/her back to the pad. If puppy lifts its head a gentle correction and point back to the ground. They should get the idea quite quickly – broken, scented ground = food and happy master, clean, unscented ground = no food and cranky master. Always do this with a puppy on an empty stomach (want them hungry).

    You can increase the size of the scent pad and reduce food as puppy gets better. If puppy finds it too hard, go back to more food smaller area. You can also increase time before you track. Note: it is actually easier for the dog to track after 20mins than to track immediately. However it does become more difficult as time goes on after that.

    Starting a path
    Once they have mastered the scent pad, you then start to create a scent line. Basically is a pad that then shoots off into a path or line. Make a small pad then continue treading the ground (skin under foot) into a particular direction. As you do so hide small pieces of food into the grass. After you wait (20mins or so) get the dog to track (use your command). As before if the dog goes off the pad, small correction. The dog should start to follow the path you made. If it doesn’t give it some help (point it out and re command). At the end of the line have a bit of extra food. When the dog finds it and eats praise it. If the dog starts to rush to get the food at the end you need to reduce the amount (sometimes stop it altogether).

    As the dog gets proficient at this you slowly do the following : increase length of track, reduce food,

    As said its all about reading your dog. If its getting into a poor habit you have to try and get the it out of this habit positively, without correction (where possible).

    If the dog has little food drive you may have to fast it. My current dog had very little to no food drive. I had to fast him for 1 to 2 days prior to training and sometimes that would be the only thing he would eat in the day. He learnt quickly to work hard in track, imprinting the desired habit.

    Note: Don’t leave your track/pads unattended. Very annoying when another dog smells the food walks all over it, eats half the food and pisses on it!

    Real life tracking
    Once you are confident your dog/pup is tracking well and you have significantly reduced the food (or no food) it is time to do a live test either with, other experienced dogs, a controlled environment or just take them hunting. In a perfect world if you could create a controlled environment track it would be fantastic. That would be using an animal to walk out a track (domestic farm animal, even a horse etc). Wait 20 mins or so then see if he/she can pick up the scent. Follow it and when it gets to the animal (I would only make a short distance) a big, happy good boy/girl and play with him/her.

    If you have done the above well you will have a dog correctly imprinted to track. Don’t be surprised in 1 or 2 live tracks it will out track many experienced dogs. The dog will quickly learn to follow the scent to get to the prey (in lieu of food). The food is only there at the beginning to imprint the desired traits. Some trainers use their dogs prey items (ball, toy etc) in lieu of food and also get great results.

    Training dogs to track well is a bit of an art and no one rule for all applies. It is very rewarding and the results and what well trained dogs are capable of is amazing.

  • #2
    Great read mate.

    Thought I'd chime in by sharing an article written by Doug Read. In regards to using a utility gun dog for stalking Sambar. This article was given to me from a friend of mine who knows Doug quite well.

    My favorite quote:

    "Bush stalking Sambar with a utility gun dog can be very rewarding & satisfying and certainly has the potential to increase the success rate Of the handler and enjoyment Of his Deer hunting experience. But, to the real hunter it is far more than just this aspect alone; it is the continuation of The age-old partnership forged In time between man & his hunting dog that provides much of the deep-down satisfaction to the Sambar hunter fortunate To have such a valued & loyal companion"



    by Doug Read

    In recent years the use of a gun dog has gained popularity amongst hunters seeking an edge when bush stalking sambar. A well trained dog has the potential to enhance the hunter’s efforts significantly when stalking these elusive deer in their thickly forested mountain habitat, often making the difference between a blank day and one where there’s plenty of venison to carry and a fine set of trophy antlers to admire.
    In Victoria, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment has approved a number of breeds for use as gun dogs for stalking sambar deer. Popular breeds from the spaniel, setter, retriever, pointer and utility gun dog groups are the only breeds permitted (See Table 1). The Wildlife Regulations require that when hunting sambar, the dog wears a collar with a metal tag affixed that clearly states the name, address and telephone number the owner. Non-approved breeds cannot be used to hunt sambar and heavy fines exist for a breach these regulations. Sambar hunters are not permitted to use their gun dog in any Victorian State Park or National Park as dogs of all types are prohibited in these areas.

    What breeds are suitable for a sambar-specific gun dog?
    It’s a bit like the ideal sambar calibre—some use .270s, others .458s and many something in between. All are satisfied with their choice for various reasons—none is right or wrong. The same can be said for a hunter’s choice of a gun dog breed for sambar. German shorthair, Weimaraner, Hungarian Vizsla, English springer and Brittany spaniel, Labrador and German wirehaired pointer are some of the more common breeds used by sambar hunters but any of the gun dog breeds are suitable if trained correctly. Some may be more suited to winter hunting of sambar than others as the cold temperatures encountered can temper the enthusiasm of some dogs from the short-coated breeds. It’s generally a matter of personal preference as to what breed of gun dog puppy is purchased. Being a big fan of the German wirehair as a sambar gun dog makes me a bit biased I suppose!
    My German wirehaired pointer bitch is trained specifically to hunt sambar although she is equally at home in a duck swamp or stubble paddock chasing quail. For sambar, I wanted a robust dog that would not be effected by sub zero alpine temperatures, one that had a good nose capable of wind and ground scenting sambar and most importantly one that had a quiet temperament making it easy to train and handle. I’m more than pleased with my choice. Typical of this breed, she has a very placid nature, was extremely easy to train and has enhanced my sambar hunting opportunities to a very significant extent. Her thick, rough coat gives great protection and staying power in extremely cold temperatures while her scenting and tracking ability on sambar in both open terrain and heavy cover still continues to amaze me. For my style of sambar hunting, the German wirehair is highly suitable and has proven very effective.
    Whatever breed is chosen for a sambar gun dog, you should carefully research the hunting ability of the pup’s parents and previous pups from those parents and if possible go back a few generations to ascertain the suitability of the line for hunting. If both parents are good hunters and workers (even if not on deer) then the chances that the pup will also be, are far greater. Avoid taking the risk on a pup from a long line of non-hunting house pets or show dogs as these may have had all their hunting instincts bred from them. If you do your homework and make your pup selection with the primary consideration being towards the genetic hunting ability of the line, then you’ll have a far better chance of getting something to mould into a working gun dog than just taking pot luck and hoping for the best.

    Don’t assume that because you’ve purchased an expensive pedigreed pup that it will train itself and hunt like a champion with little or no effort from you.
    It is imperative that the hunter spends plenty of quality time with the pup from the day it is brought home. It is a serious error to neglect the importance of these early months which should be spent forming a strong bond with the puppy and not, as often happens, leaving it neglected in the dog run until it appears physically big enough to be taken out hunting! It is very important that the pup should strongly bond with you and identify you as the centre of its world—you should be its primary carer, you should feed it, discipline it, exercise it, play with it, take it for rides in the 4WD and anything else that both you and the pup can do together. How you treat the pup in the first 12 months is vital to its development as a valued hunting companion for the next 10–12 years and cannot be over-stressed.
    Training your gun dog for hunting sambar should begin while your dog is young and impressionable and can be commenced at 3 or 4 months of age with some basic obedience work. Short educational trips into the bush should not begin until the dog will respond reliably to the basic obedience voice commands of “Sit”, “Stay”, “Come”, “Heel”, “No” and can walk comfortably by your side both on and off the lead. With brief daily lessons, an intelligent pup can easily achieve this standard of obedience by the time it is 6 months of age. When you are confident that it will respond to these commands without hesitation it is ready to be taken out into the bush without the rifle, for some basic lessons from you about sambar deer.
    There are any number of dog training books and videos available and most deal with various methods obedience training relevant to all types of dogs. Books for gun dog specific training are less common but still available; those for deer-hunting training are probably non-existent in this country. However the common basic principles of gun dog training in relation to gun work, steadiness to shot, retrieving, finding game and tracking wounded game as covered in gun dog training books are still relevant to deer hunting and are well worth reading. Check your local library, larger bookshops and any hunting mates that have trained and worked a gun dog.
    Table 2 lists a number of titles that cover general obedience and gun dog specific training and while none are deer-specific, all offer plenty of well-tried advice on how to effectively go about the task of training a gun dog.

    If the dog is going to be used primarily for sambar hunting then you should expose it to the deer at an early age.
    The pup needs plenty of exposure to the types of deer sign that it will encounter when it’s older and you are carrying the rifle. Take it on frequent short trips into the bush and let it explore and develop its senses. Show it fresh deer sign like prints, rub trees, droppings, beds and wallows and warmly encourage the pup when it investigates these things. Fresh sambar sign and your obvious interest in it is the ideal teaching tool. Show the puppy that you’re excited and very interested in the deer sign and it will quickly learn from your enthusiastic praise of its investigative actions that these things are very important to you. In an effort to earn more praise from you it will soon focus primarily on the deer sign. Reward positive behaviour generously and encourage the pup’s efforts but at all times have patience. These trips should be an enjoyable experience for both the pup and the hunter. Like people, all pups are individuals and learn skills at different rates, so take things slowly and don’t force the issue.
    The basic aim of these early field-training trips is to give the pup plenty of enjoyable experiences with you out in the bush when it’s young and impressionable. This is the time to teach the pup to cross streams, jump over logs, crawl through blackberries, climb up steep spurs, track and trail various scents and do all the other things that a sambar hunter’s dog is expected to take in its stride. It’s the role of the hunter to form and mold the natural instincts in the dog into a manageable and productive sambar hunting aid. The effort you put-in during these important formative months will be returned 100-fold when the dog is mature and the real hunting begins.

    You should train the dog to be sambar-specific and to ignore other birds and animals while you’re out deer hunting.
    Remember that the scent, sign and sight of other birds and animals will also be very attractive to the pup as it explores the bush. Animals such as rabbits, wombats, foxes and all manner of birds will be regularly encountered while you are deer hunting and the dog needs to learn that you are not interested in these and neither should it be! Care needs to be taken to gently direct its attention away from these distractions by positively reinforcing its growing interest in deer sign. Heap praise on the pup when it shows interest in the deer and gently, verbally chastise it when it tracks a wombat or points a lyrebird. It will soon get the message, as above all else it should want to please you.
    Once you begin sambar hunting with your gun dog it important to avoid shooting other animals such as foxes, wombats and rabbits that the dog may be paying attention to. Shooting these gives the dog very confusing mixed messages and will probably cause it to focus on the numerous non-sambar scents that are in the bush during the frequent times when there’s no fresh deer sign to hunt. Remember that the dog is hunting primarily to please you so if you shoot a wombat or fox that it had been showing interest in you can’t blame the dog if next time it comes across a similar animal it expects you to do the same thing again! When you’re out in the mountains with the big rifle after sambar—no pests or feral game—just sambar—stick to this simple approach and it’ll be much easier on both you and the dog.

    Don’t rush things—only take the dog hunting when you are confident that it is fully controllable and will respond to all your commands without question.
    Don’t be tempted to take the pup out hunting with the rifle too early. Get all the basics right in the first place and then introduce it to the big gun. By the time it is 12 months of age and providing it has had plenty of time in the bush taking-in all the sights, sounds and smells of sambar, your utility gun dog should be ready for some serious hunting. With some luck it may have seen a few live sambar while on your training walks and maybe a dead one or two taken by your hunting mates. You should have absolute confidence in its response to your commands and the dog must obey these instantly and without question.
    While hunting, loud voice commands or shrill whistles should be avoided as they may alert nearby deer. Instead, use simple hand signals to indicate the basic obedience commands but be sure to make each signal quite different so that the dog does not get them confused. Practice these regularly until the dog obeys these, like the voice commands, without question at all times. This is vital and may well affect your success as a hunter and more importantly the dog’s safety while in the bush.
    A gun dog should be trained to be absolutely steady to shot. The hunter may prefer the dog to just stand still at the shot or to sit or drop, all are quite satisfactory and achieve the basic aim of not having the dog chase after the animal once the shot has been fired. A dog charging after a deer that has been shot at puts unnecessary pressure on the deer and may cause it to run further than it would otherwise have. It also places dog in extreme danger from being injured by the deer; either antlered, kicked, or crushed by a falling animal that it has got too close to.
    The hunter should also be totally confident that if a deer breaks cover close to the dog, it will not chase under any circumstances. A dog chasing a deer is in danger of being shot or at best it may prevent the hunter getting a shot off. I found it quite easy to train my wirehair to sit whenever she sees me shoulder the rifle or if she’s nearby and not looking a soft, hissed “sit” command will usually do the trick. Always be very conscious of the position of the dog in relation to the muzzle of your rifle when about to take a shot. While a good dog usually takes little or no notice of the blast of a high-powered rifle being discharged overhead, it still does have an accumulative effect on the dog’s sensitive hearing and will damage it severely over time.
    After the shot is fired the dog should be quickly placed on a lead and the follow-up commenced. The dog is then under the total control of the hunter while its excellent nose and tracking ability can still be fully utilized to locate the downed deer. The dog is also safe and fully controlled should a dangerous situation suddenly arise.

    How can the dog’s senses assist the sambar hunter?
    The most important aspect to utilize with a dog on sambar is its ability to scent the deer on the wind and the correct use of any wind by the hunter will enhance the dog’s ability to detect deer from a considerable distance. With a nose a thousand times more sensitive than ours, a good gun dog can scent a sambar some hundreds of meters away in even a slight breeze. This aspect alone significantly increases the amount of country the hunter and dog can cover together. The hunter should always try to work the country so that he has the dog into or across any breeze at all times. This will enable the dog to maximize its acute sense of smell, without doubt the most valuable of its senses to the sambar hunter.
    The dog will be also able to detect the scent of the deer on the ground in hoof prints and on the trees and bushes that the deer has brushed against as it walked through the forest. Remember that this scent may be some hours old but a good dog will still be able to track it quite easily, especially in cooler weather and moist conditions. The hunter may, under these circumstances allow the dog to quietly walk-up on the prints, hoping to encounter the deer ahead somewhere. Try to take note of the direction of the breeze, as the dog is likely to detect the deer on the wind as well. Always look well ahead as often sambar will not be alarmed by a single, quietly moving dog, sometimes standing motionless while letting the dog get very close before breaking cover.
    A trained gun dog is also invaluable for tracking and locating a deer that has run-off after being shot. Under these circumstances the follow-up should always be undertaken with the dog secured on a lead and not free-ranging on the marks or blood trail. This practice avoids the dog pushing the deer further than it may otherwise go, eliminates the possibility of the dog encountering another deer and leaving the trail of the animal being followed-up, and keeps the dog safe and controlled during this aspect of the hunt.

    How should I hunt my gun dog on sambar?
    This is very much a personal choice made by each hunter depending on how they like to hunt and how they see their gun dog in the over-all scheme of things. Some hunters have been successful by letting the dog have its head and range-out freely, often hunting out of sight for lengthy periods in the hope that the dog will find fresh sambar sign and lead the hunter to the deer. If the dog is of the pointing type it may encounter a deer and hold a point until the hunter arrives on the scene, or the dog may encounter a deer and try and chase it to the hunter. I have even heard of several confirmed reports of sambar stags chasing a fleeing gun dog back to the surprised hunter, probably after the deer has mistaken it for a wild dog.
    For me these fairly random methods of dog handling leave far too much to chance, however they have proven successful for a number of hunters but I suspect that the dogs have been seeing far more sambar than their owners!
    I prefer a more structured and organized approach to hunting sambar with a gun dog and trained my wirehaired pointer to hunt very close to me. I feel this aspect alone is crucial to our regular success when bush stalking sambar. The dog is never more than five or six meters away and in most situations in full view, she is not permitted to range-out and hunt out of my sight at any time. Often I will simply hunt her on a lead with her quietly walking just ahead sniffing the breeze and following her senses. This method has proven to be very effective in heavy cover as alert sambar will frequently allow a hunter to walk right past them, often at very close range. A good dog will pick most of these deer up and give the hunter an opportunity for a shot as because of the actions of the dog, he is already alert and is expecting to encounter a deer.
    Interpreting the direction of the breeze is absolutely critical and the dog should be hunted into or across any breeze to maximize the use of its excellent sense of smell. A hunter should check the wind direction regularly with a small gas cigarette lighter or similar device so that the dog is always worked in such a direction to enable the best use of its sense of smell. A gun dog has the ability to scent sambar on even the slightest of breezes from several hundred meters away and, by correctly utilizing the wind, a hunter effectively increases significantly the amount of country that is effectively being hunted. The hunter needs to carefully observe the body language of the dog and follow-up any possible indicators that the dog may be onto a sambar.

    How do I know if the dog is scenting a sambar?
    The hunter needs to be able to recognize the often-subtle messages that the dog is giving indicating that a deer is nearby. This can sometimes only be a lifting of the head while the dog pauses and tests the breeze or the dog slowing its hunting pace down and carefully looking ahead. The dog may just stare intently into a patch of scrub and refuse to budge or insist on looking into a particular spot even though the hunter wishes otherwise. The hunter needs to remember that the dog may be getting the scent from quite some distance away and the deer may not be immediately visible when the hunter notices a change in the dog’s demeanour. These messages are often just slight changes in the dog’s normal posture or behaviour and will vary from dog to dog considerably. The hunter must have absolute faith in the instincts and ability of the dog and carefully investigate all possible indicators that the dog has located a deer—sometimes these are false alarms and sometimes they are not!
    My wirehair has a number of tell-tale body postures that I am now well attuned to and these include lifting her head into the breeze and sucking-in the air-scent usually with a hairy backward glance at me to see that I’m paying suitable attention. She also slows down her hunting pace to “hyper-creep” mode, stopping frequently to scan ahead for the deer. Being a pointer she will also rigidly point a red-hot scent or a freshly vacated deer bed, rub tree or wallow. She also pauses to sniff bushes and trees that the deer has brushed against while walking through the forest and will often jump up on logs to search for the deer when she senses one’s close-by. She can be quite stubborn at times by insisting that we go where she wants to go when on a hot scent, this is usually achieved by either pulling on the lead or standing stock-still and staring in the direction she wants to go while refusing my efforts to encourage her elsewhere. Luckily for me, she is rarely wrong! Any of these body-posture indicators has me of full alert and ready for an imminent encounter and it is wise to trust the senses of the dog and always follow-up all instances where it is showing extreme interest in anything that could be deer-related.
    Naturally shooting a deer that you encounter while the dog is hunting is the best teaching aid and you should heap praise upon the dog and encourage it as it gets its first close-up look at a sambar deer. Remember that the dog may be initially hesitant to approach the deer, possibly intimidated by its large size. However it should quickly overcome this by your enthusiastic praise of its efforts—a little reward in the way of a few tid-bits from the carcass always helps too!

    The dog has the genes—it’s up to the hunter to develop them to suit deer hunting.
    There are no quick fixes in sambar hunting and hunters who see the purchase of a gun dog puppy as a guaranteed fast track to sambar success are generally in for a rude awakening. By their very nature sambar deer are extremely wary and intelligent animals, always unpredictable and difficult to hunt. While a well-trained gun dog may give the experienced hunter the edge sometimes, a poorly trained or untrained dog will certainly make the task even harder and only add to the frustration.
    Hunters need to realize that a lot of patience and work is required in order to train a gun dog to effectively hunt sambar deer. Most gun dog puppies from proven field-hunting lines have the genes to produce the goods…its up to the hunter via his training methods and perseverance to bring them out. That is the challenge—meet it and the rewards for success are many and varied.
    Bush stalking sambar with a utility gun dog can be a very rewarding and satisfying and certainly has the potential to increase the success rate of the handler and enhance the enjoyment of his deer hunting experiences. But to the real hunter it is far more than just this aspect alone; it is the continuation of the age-old partnership forged in time between man and his hunting dog that provides much of the deep-down satisfaction to the sambar hunter fortunate to have such a valued and loyal companion.
    In Victoria, the Wildlife Regulations state that only those breeds of dog recognized as “gun dogs” may be used to hunt Sambar deer. The table below indicates those permitted breeds:

    Table 1: Recognised Breeds of Gun Dogs for Hunting Sambar in Victoria
    Brittany Spaniel (Epagneul Breton) Flat Coated Retriever Italian Spinone
    Chesapeake Bay Retriever German Shorthaired Pointer Labrador Retriever
    Clumber Spaniel German wirehaired Pointer (Deutsch Drahthaar) Large Münsterlander
    Cocker Spaniel Golden Retriever Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
    Cocker Spaniel (American) Gordon Setter Pointer
    Curly Coated retriever Hungarian Viszla Sussex Spaniel
    English Setter Irish Red and White Setter Weimaraner
    English Springer Spaniel Irish Setter Welsh Springer Spaniel
    Field Spaniel Irish Water Spaniel

    Table 2: Some useful reference books for training a gun dog:
    Dog Training Made Easy by Michael Tucker Published by Weldon Sydney. A good general dog-training book for obedience and some basic aspects of gun dog work. Easy to read and understand for first-time handler. Fully illustrated.
    The Rough Shooters Gundog by Michael Brander. Publisher unknown. Mainly on GSPs but an excellent book for all aspects of dog obedience and general gun dog training.
    Training the Pointer Retriever Gun Dog by Michael Brander. Published by Phelam Books London. Author is a very experienced gun dog trainer and offers plenty of training advice for all breeds.
    Wing and Shot Gundog Training by Robert G. Wehle. Published by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan New York. A classic gun dog training book for all types of field hunting applications.
    Note: For details of regulations relating to hunting deer with a gundog, as at the date of this Course, refer to the section ‘Wildlife Legislation and Legal Hunting Areas’.


    • Vromme
      Vromme commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks BM that is a great read and I think adds to the topic perfectly. The fundamentals are the same. Good also to have the Vic breed regulations spelt out.

      I think it would be ideal to go to a property that has domestic deer, pigs or whatever your target species is to train your dog/s. If the handler (or property owner) knew the general movement of the animal/s (or at least their start point) and got then dog/s to track and locate the animal/s (obviously without shooting them) it would be an ideal way to gain positive experience quite quickly. I would be confident that this would be an effective way to practice and help teach both handler and dog/s to track thoroughly. It would also make it quicker/easier for the handler to learn to read the dog.

      The hardest thing would be finding the right property with an obliging owner! Unfortunately I dont think many would - "Excuse me do you mind if I do some tracking training with my dog on your stock!"

  • #3
    Thanks for the reading guys,

    Out if interest we took our 1yo GSP's to a gun dog training course last Sunday and one of the presenters was Charles haydonwho writes for feathers and fur (I think that's right)

    He spoke on deer indicating dogs and their roll in other wind scenting deer and other game as well as blood trailing shot game.

    I'm proud to say both our boys excelled at following a blood trail laid down using sambar blood despite never having any contact with deer n their lives

    We brought home a small amount of blood and some Sambar skin to continue with their training.

    Now all I need to do is train them to find deer, get a property where I can shoot deer, shoot a deer and then the can find it

    I'll try to post a thread and go over some of the course for those who may be interested


    • #4
      Sounds good, Id be interested. I do enjoy learning others methods. Great to try out and see what works for you and your dog/s.

      When we had 3 x WUSV world champion Ronnie van den Burghe visit our club us we managed to give him a couple of ideas which he adopted. Mind you we learnt a plethora of things from him and other European competitors that were sponsored to come to Aus. Most top competitors or people with success in most fields are open to learning, even from much less accomplished people (such as us!)

      NB Just to compete at the WUSV you need to get through a series of national levels - often selected from hundreds of competitors. It has a strong following in Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, also some middle eastern and other asian countries.

      A bit off topic but some may find interesting, below is a video of Ronnies 2004 WUSV protection routine.

      If you dont feel like watching it all flick to 3:30 min to watch the courage test. IE Agitator runs and yells at dog waving stick, dog then has to take him down on command. Most dogs will back off (if not run off) when charged directly like this. A few will run at, then back off or tentatively have a go. A select few will go in and hit at full speed/flight. They need to have very solid nerves.

      There is actually more obedience in this than anything else as the dog is so aroused at the time and really wants to hammer the agitator.