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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a nearly two year old GWP that is finally being exposed to birds. I have many questions (many will show my ignorance), but will start with these:

In some pictures posted here there has been discussions of dogs being too close to the bird on points. What is the "Ideal" distance the dog should be from the bird while pointing?

Do dogs actually point on scent typically, or do they follow the scent and then lock up when they see the bird? I always thought it was by scent, but now I realize I don't even know that for sure.

Thanks,
Jason
 

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In some pictures posted here there has been discussions of dogs being too close to the bird on points. What is the "Ideal" distance the dog should be from the bird while pointing?
In my opinion, there is none. It's how the dog handles birds that's important.

Do dogs actually point on scent typically, or do they follow the scent and then lock up when they see the bird? I always thought it was by scent, but now I realize I don't even know that for sure.
Depends on the situation. Sometimes they see the bird, sometimes they smell it, sometimes they hear it, sometimes it's a combo of some or all of the above. You want the dog to point on scent, but to think that's all there is to it for the dog would be the greatest of oversimplifications. An experienced dog should be able to put together information from all of their senses and make the call to point or not.
 

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In some pictures posted here there has been discussions of dogs being too close to the bird on points. What is the "Ideal" distance the dog should be from the bird while pointing?
I'll take a shot:
This is a multi-opinion/multi-dimensional question, but personally, I like to have the dog lock-up on first scent, not hit scent, then putter or creep in to see how close to the bird they can get. I think that this is critically important to insure that the bird isn't flushed by the dog--especially before the hunter arrives.

This is where it gets tricky: what's the definition of "first scent"? In some instances, the dog may simply not hit the scent cone until relatively close to the bird, so it's physically impossible to point the bird at a good distance. In other instances, scenting conditions may just be plain bad causing the dog to get too close (often when it's really dry).

The specie of bird also has a bearing on the appropriate distance. For example woodcock (in general) will allow the dog to get relatively close before flushing, while a grouse will have none of that nonsense and will (frequently) flush at the slightest pressure. Consequently, in training my youngest dog, I made an effort to focus on the more difficult grouse before woodcock.

The degree of hunting pressure a bird receives is also a factor: just compare early season to late season grouse in most areas or to take it to its logical extreme, Western or Canadian grouse and Michigan public land grouse.

The dog's and hunter's goals also come into play. For example, for a bigger-running dog, exceptional bird manners are mandatory, or else the bird will leave before the hunter arrives. For closer working dogs, the dog can be relatively sloppy on birds and still present a shot for the hunter if the hunter is less picky about the dog's performance than putting birds in the pot.

You should get a wide range of answers on your question, but I hope this helps.
 

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The dog's and hunter's goals also come into play. For example, for a bigger-running dog, exceptional bird manners are mandatory, or else the bird will leave before the hunter arrives. For closer working dogs, the dog can be relatively sloppy on birds and still present a shot for the hunter if the hunter is less picky about the dog's performance than putting birds in the pot.
So owners of close working dogs allow sloppy dog work and are only interested in filling the pot???

I'll take a shot at what you really meant.:D

Closer working dogs require exceptional bird manners because they are usually in sight of the handler.
Big running dogs can be sloppy, because the handler has no idea what is going on between Fido and the bird.;):D Hows that.
 

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In some pictures posted here there has been discussions of dogs being too close to the bird on points. What is the "Ideal" distance the dog should be from the bird while pointing?

Do dogs actually point on scent typically, or do they follow the scent and then lock up when they see the bird?
Thanks,
Jason
I'll toss in my opinion on these,

Pointing dogs point on scent. If they do happen to see the bird, they should also point on sight.

The "ideal" distance from the bird is highly variable, depending on species and conditions. Typically, I would say the dog should be far enough away so it does not bust the bird, but close enough so that the hunter can flush it without hiking all over the woods. Hows that for a non answer?:)

Here is a little pictorial example from todays hunt.

Here is Levi on a woodcock,



You can see the bird right above his head, about two feet away.

Is that too close? Yea, but the bird didn't fly, so maybe not... Here is the story, Levi established point on a woodcock, it flushed about 10 yards ahead of him, no shot was presented. As he watched the bird fly, he moved ahead and to the left a few yards. When he decided there was no bird to fetch, he got back to hunting and bam, here was this little fellow. So too close? Yes, but the way it worked, I was pleased with his work.

Not more than 100 yards further on, Levi stands another bird.



When I move in for the flush, he breaks, moves 10 yards and re establishes a point, I keep moving and 25 yards in front of the second point, 3 grouse flush. If he would have tried to get closer, the birds probably would have busted, but he knows the difference and also how to handle each.

So to make a long answer even longer, most dogs figure out how close they can get. And bumped birds are a part of the game, the better the dog gets, the less bumped birds it will have.

And yes findthebird, Levi is a close working dog.;)
 

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So owners of close working dogs allow sloppy dog work and are only interested in filling the pot???

I'll take a shot at what you really meant.:D

Closer working dogs require exceptional bird manners because they are usually in sight of the handler.
Big running dogs can be sloppy, because the handler has no idea what is going on between Fido and the bird.;):D Hows that.
Wow Lucky, now THAT'S some creative humor! I won't even pretend to compete with that.:lol: Lucky 1, FTB 0!

I'll toss in my opinion on these,

Pointing dogs point on scent. If they do happen to see the bird, they should also point on sight.

The "ideal" distance from the bird is highly variable, depending on species and conditions. Typically, I would say the dog should be far enough away so it does not bust the bird, but close enough so that the hunter can flush it without hiking all over the woods. Hows that for a non answer?:)
Exactly.

So to make a long answer even longer, most dogs figure out how close they can get. And bumped birds are a part of the game, the better the dog gets, the less bumped birds it will have.
Nicely said.
 

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it's subjective, the dog should be close enough to pin the bird with tthe point but not so close that he bumps the bird. and as FTB said, he should point when he first makes scent, not potter or road in on the bird.

dogs will and should sight point, but mostly it's scent pointing. dogs that road in to see the bird are likely to bump it.
 

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You guys never fail to disappoint.

Nice pics Lucky Dog. Levi really looks to be enjoying himself. As for pointing that WC so close after the first flush. Ruger did that with a pheasant last Wed. Didn't start working the scent until he was too close. It too was a bird that wild flushed a few mins earlier. My rational was that the bird had been on that piece of ground for such a short time that there was little scent. Do you believe that to be part of the reason for such a close point?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the input. I figured that the distance is highly variable. The reason I ask is that when she is downwind of planted birds she seems to smell them a long ways away. But she doesn't pin down where it is until she is much closer. With the planted birds I want to know when I should Whoa her if she hasn't pointed the bird and she is getting close.

She wants to go in there and grab the bird which I know isn't good either. Being so late for bird exposure, I am trying to balance keeping her excited about birds while trying to bring out her point.

Any pointers would be helpful.

Thanks,
Jason
 

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the dog should point the bird voluntarily. if you whoa it into a point it can lead to blinking. you cant whoa a dog into point on wild birds.

too many planted birds lead to bad habits as the dog learns it can get close before pointing.

the best thing to do if the dog gets too close is to pop the bird from the launcher.
 

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Not sure if it was mentioned, if you think your dog is getting to close on point, work the dog into the wind and see what the distance of the points are. I have worked dogs down wind and find they end up with a few close points and even bump a bird they had no clue was there.

When I work my flushing dog I can tell when she is on scent and as the scent gets stronger she sometime jumps at a clump of cover thinking the bird must be there. Or she might start using her eyes more looking for movement. If her head comes up and she picks up speed I know we have a runner and she is looking for movement. So I believe with experience the dog learns distance to the bird by the strength of the scent. The dogs natural ability to scent will also determine the distance of the point.

If your dog is going on point and holding point you should be proud of that work especially if the dog is close enough to see the bird. I have seen a lot of dogs that won't hold point if they see the bird.

I find that birds that have flushed a couple of times have less scent and are harder for the dog to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So I have taken from many of your posts that planted birds can cause bad habits in pointing dogs. So yesterday night I ran her through a friends property that is loaded with pheasants. She was really excited about the birds, but only once did I see anything resembling a point for her. I am not sure if she saw the bird or just smelled it, but she stopped and shortly after a bird flushed. Due to trees I could see how close the bird was to the dog.

So, short of getting a trainer, what is the recommended course? She hasn't been exposed to birds much, and the pointing instinct has not surfaced much yet.

It does seem like she wants to go in and catch planted birds so I don't feel I should do that without a launcher. Should I just continue to run her though my friends field (without a gun of course), and hope / wait for the natural point to come out? Or plant birds without a launcher and just try to hold her with a check-cord and the whoa command?

I do not every see myself as a hardcore bird hunter so I am looking for for a hunting companion on the few bird hunts (mostly grouse / woodcock) I do each year. The point being is I do not expect a perfect pointing dog out of her. Thought my intentions might be helpful.

Thanks again,
Jason
 

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So owners of close working dogs allow sloppy dog work and are only interested in filling the pot???

I'll take a shot at what you really meant.:D

Closer working dogs require exceptional bird manners because they are usually in sight of the handler.
Big running dogs can be sloppy, because the handler has no idea what is going on between Fido and the bird.;):D Hows that.
lmao i like the way you put it:lol:
 

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the dog should point the bird voluntarily. if you whoa it into a point it can lead to blinking. you cant whoa a dog into point on wild birds.

too many planted birds lead to bad habits as the dog learns it can get close before pointing.

the best thing to do if the dog gets too close is to pop the bird from the launcher.
I agree with the SHOULD point voluntarily. But many dogs don't start out pointing voluntarily. There is nothing wrong with telling a dog whoa that has made scent contact and is not stopping.
I see, and do this this, all the time on young dogs.I want mine to slam on the brakes at first scent. By doing this you will teach your dog to point at first scent.
I have been over this planted bird issue before. You are dead wrong. In fact it is completely opposite. You will have more control in a planted bird situation. If a dog developes bad habits on planted birds it is because you have let him do that. That is the trainers fault not the dogs.
 

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I agree with the SHOULD point voluntarily. But many dogs don't start out pointing voluntarily. There is nothing wrong with telling a dog whoa that has made scent contact and is not stopping.
I see, and do this this, all the time on young dogs.I want mine to slam on the brakes at first scent. By doing this you will teach your dog to point at first scent.
I have been over this planted bird issue before. You are dead wrong. In fact it is completely opposite. You will have more control of a planted bird situation. If a dog developes bad habits on planted birds it is because you have let him do that. That is the trainers fault not the dogs.
Thanks for that............Glad "you" said it.
 

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Dogwhistle, very good way of looking at things!

the dog should point the bird voluntarily. if you whoa it into a point it can lead to blinking. you cant whoa a dog into point on wild birds.

too many planted birds lead to bad habits as the dog learns it can get close before pointing.
the best thing to do if the dog gets too close is to pop the bird from the launcher.
Yes, this is a good way for the fix, I will add a little to prevent boogers also.
When doing trap work for steadying or fixing, I keep at least a 10' circle around the trap area. At first I will work on some stop to flush....this is just as beneficial in steaying work, as pointing.........the plus to it, doing some stop to flush work, allows the dog to think, alot of times when they scent an point, they go into different train of thought........and that opens a door for alot more excitement with the set up. Plus the stop to flush stuff, allows dog to get used to hearing the trap go off, myself I have changed the springs so its very or more quiet than factory stuff. That dog as time goes on doesnt get the oppertunity to go in closer and get itsself in trouble. Your timing and this is all beneficial, I dont worry alot on the pointing, or I wont wait for it to point..........if it didnt smell it when I came threw the first time, or wasnt focused or thinking, it will start paying closer attention when it starts the stop to flush work, the biggest thing in doing this, is keeping a hold of the check cord, if you are steadying, the chase is controled at all times, not part of the time. Thanks Jonesy
 

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Dogwhistle, very good way of looking at things!





Yes, this is a good way for the fix, I will add a little to prevent boogers also.
When doing trap work for steadying or fixing, I keep at least a 10' circle around the trap area. At first I will work on some stop to flush....this is just as beneficial in steaying work, as pointing.........the plus to it, doing some stop to flush work, allows the dog to think, alot of times when they scent an point, they go into different train of thought........and that opens a door for alot more excitement with the set up. Plus the stop to flush stuff, allows dog to get used to hearing the trap go off, myself I have changed the springs so its very or more quiet than factory stuff. That dog as time goes on doesnt get the oppertunity to go in closer and get itsself in trouble. Your timing and this is all beneficial, I dont worry alot on the pointing, or I wont wait for it to point..........if it didnt smell it when I came threw the first time, or wasnt focused or thinking, it will start paying closer attention when it starts the stop to flush work, the biggest thing in doing this, is keeping a hold of the check cord, if you are steadying, the chase is controled at all times, not part of the time. Thanks Jonesy
Man , I train dogs for a living and I don't get any of the above.
Explain to me how whoaing a dog into a point leads to blinking but check cording one into a point or wild flush won't.
Explain to me how planted birds leads to pointing too close?????
The only planted birds that I have ever seen start to have a negitive effect on young dogs is birds that are used in the release traps and sprung in their faces.
How is it that dog trainers use planted birds from one end of this country to the other with great success and yet we have one man here saying they don't work.?????
I have from time to time whoaed dogs that have made scent and are advancing toward the bird, for 20 years, have it seen it cause any blinking yet ??????
I go through thousands of planted birds a year breaking dogs and trialing dogs, take them north every year grouse hunting, have not seen any issues yet.When they run across a wild pheasant in the training field they point and hold just fine.

Also what makes you think every dog should point birds voluntarily.Some have so much prey drive that they chrage in. What do you or would you do with that????
 

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the dog should point the bird voluntarily. if you whoa it into a point it can lead to blinking. you cant whoa a dog into point on wild birds.

too many planted birds lead to bad habits as the dog learns it can get close before pointing.

the best thing to do if the dog gets too close is to pop the bird from the launcher.[/QUOTE/]

If the dog blinks it is because
a. you have a soft dog with little prey drive
or b. you need to reevaluate your training with that dog at this point.

Whoa(silent or verbal for those of you who use a checkcord to accomplish the same thing) is a training process used to TEACH a dog to stop on first scent, with proper training it becomes a conditioned response that should no longer need be spoken(or tugged) (outside of an emergency) and therefore you can keep your mouth shut while hunting.(or put your check cord away)

Too many people in a rush to train their dogs don't follow a process nor give the repetitions needed for bird manners to become in grained or the conditioned response you need for a dog with lots of prey drive or worse little. you can give a lot of more reps with planted birds and therefore accomplish more faster.
 

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In some pictures posted here there has been discussions of dogs being too close to the bird on points. What is the "Ideal" distance the dog should be from the bird while pointing?

Do dogs actually point on scent typically, or do they follow the scent and then lock up when they see the bird? I always thought it was by scent, but now I realize I don't even know that for sure.

Thanks,
Jason

That is a good question.

Here's what I've learned hunting 10 years behind my Brittany. If she goes on point and her head is up, that bird could be anywhere with 20 yards of her. She's entered that bird's sent cone. She won't move unless the bird moves...that is the scent moves and she will relocate.

If her head is down, that bird is right off her nose.

In my mind 95% of points on wild birds come from scent.

Then, of course, you get these damn running birds who screw everything up:lol:
 
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