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Gun Dog Training: Bad Habits

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January 14, 2013

Gun Dog Training: Bad Habits

By Chad Love

Porcupines are a fact of life for many of us, especially if we spend enough time in the field or have the bad fortune to own dogs with an unhealthy interest in them. Take my two setters, for example. My female loves porcupines. She's fascinated with the damn things and will point them with as much style and intensity as any bird. And as you may recall, I've had some porcupine troubles this year with her.

Up until yesterday, however, my male setter, who is still just a pup, had not encountered a porcupine. I was out quail hunting and noticed that Ozzy, who was running about 150 yards out in front of me, suddenly wheeled around and tentatively sniff around a soapweed (yucca) bush. He craned his neck, took a sniff of something, then just as abruptly turned away and went back to hunting as if nothing had been there. Dogs, of course, do this all the time. Mice, box turtles, bones; young dogs will flash point or investigate just about anything.

Curiosity piqued, I walked up to the bush and discovered this porcupine huddled against it. Ozzy had caught its scent, investigated, and wisely determined this thing was not a bird, bad news, and something not to be jacked with or pointed. I was immensely proud of him, and relieved that, at least at this point, he seemingly has zero interest in porcupines.

And what of Jenny? She too, keyed in on the bush, went on a staunch, quivering point, and got a correction and a stern "No" for her troubles. Not once, but twice. We hunted the rest of the afternoon without trouble. We'll see if my impromptu porcupine breaking session sticks. But something tells me Jenny's fascination with porcupines hasn't quite left her.

Have you ever had an otherwise nice dog that had that one incorrigible, seemingly unbreakable habit? What was it? Did you ever manage to fix it?

Comments (10)

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My beagle trails silent, aint found a fix yet.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My lab BranDee couldn't resist skunks.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I think beagle owners in general feel lots of pain. Mine hates foxes with a burning passion, which is useful around a property with chickens, but painful in the field as a fox will run for a week and a day in a straight line.
In general my beagle is a good rabbit dog. The one qualifier, if we get into rabbits first thing, he will ignore any other game he jumps including deer. If it's been a rabbit free morning, all bet's are off.
Now that I'm typing this, I really should keep a couple of training bunnies at home to allow a chase in the yard before even getting into the truck. I wonder if that'd help.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My older lab, Pearl, can be quite selfish about her geese. She will let the younger lab help with the retrieves now but the young Brittany has been kept at bay. Pearl is also quite protective about the birds in the stash. She'll even snap at Opal sometimes if she gets to nosy. I don't dare leave the geese uncovered in the back of the Jimmy with all the dogs together or there can be problems. Two years ago this led to an embarrassing situation when I took a goose out in a field to return to another hunter and Pearl nailed his young female lab. The guy kicked her good and I don't blame him. Lucky he didn't do worse! I give her hell for being too crabby with the stash and she usually mellows a bit after the first week of season. But I know it will never go away. And I know hunting with a strange dog would be inviting big trouble. Curiously, she will allow Opal to actually take uplands away from her.

Chasing bunnies/jackrabbits when we're pheasant hunting has been a big problem but I seem to have finally gotten the upper hand. All three dogs are doing well around porcupines. I called them away from several this year. Pup will still point them if they're in the brush but she usually will not touch them. She somehow did wind up with eight or ten quills just barely in the end of her muzzle this fall. I didn't see the culprit. Presume she just got a little too close on her point. Had to pull a few quills out with my teeth. Skunks simply look too much like cats and unless the dogs smell them ahead of time they are likely to get hit before it's too late. If I see the skunk first I can call the dogs off. I can even keep them from chasing squirrels if I want. Now that IS an accomplishment! I have no trouble calling them away from bones or gut piles either. Several years ago Pearl and I had a close encounter with a very large lynx and I managed to maintain control over her without difficulty. Meet and greet with other dogs in the off-leash green space is still a work in progress. Some folks get a bit irritated but I explain to them that dogs won't learn anything as long as they are dependent on a leash. People with problem dogs should just stay out of those areas anyway and stick to the more civilized and regulated parks. Or better yet, they should trade those incorrigible mutts in for something that is not a problem. But, of course, that's not going to happen. Stupid dogs are usually a product of stupid owners.

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from Muskie wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My beagle eats my lab's poop and have not figured out how to stop it yet.

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

With my Brit, Squirrels. The whole world ends to chase a squirrel. Old, past Setter: ate dead, rotting fish as if it was candy just to throw it up later in the SUV on the way home.

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from dighunter wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

jcarlin, I'm with you on that one. Mine has an affinity for rolling in poop and anything dead that he can find out in the woods. Its always a little stomach turning to have to wash the poop from buckles and hardware on my ecollar.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

All my Setters have been pretty good. My son's Brit is in the best 5 gun dogs I've ever seen, but he loves rolling in poop, gut piles and porkies.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

My black Lab will not allow other dogs near a goose or duck in the stash much like OHH's Pearl. He is a bit lenient with the yellow pup, but only to a point. He will also show you his teeth if you get too close to my/his birds or seat. Nor will he allow anyone close to his truck. A bit annoying at times.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from twoodrow12 wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

I've commented on one of your porcupine blogs before... My pointer is obsessed with porcupines. He's had at least 10, closer to 15, trips to the vet to pull quills and he's only 4. On both of our trips to NW OK this year, he's got them. On our second trip he got into two on the same day. Hates them. Won't unlatch... I have to kick him hard in the ribs to get him to let go. I've decided I can't take him anymore... too expensive.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I think beagle owners in general feel lots of pain. Mine hates foxes with a burning passion, which is useful around a property with chickens, but painful in the field as a fox will run for a week and a day in a straight line.
In general my beagle is a good rabbit dog. The one qualifier, if we get into rabbits first thing, he will ignore any other game he jumps including deer. If it's been a rabbit free morning, all bet's are off.
Now that I'm typing this, I really should keep a couple of training bunnies at home to allow a chase in the yard before even getting into the truck. I wonder if that'd help.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My beagle trails silent, aint found a fix yet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My lab BranDee couldn't resist skunks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My older lab, Pearl, can be quite selfish about her geese. She will let the younger lab help with the retrieves now but the young Brittany has been kept at bay. Pearl is also quite protective about the birds in the stash. She'll even snap at Opal sometimes if she gets to nosy. I don't dare leave the geese uncovered in the back of the Jimmy with all the dogs together or there can be problems. Two years ago this led to an embarrassing situation when I took a goose out in a field to return to another hunter and Pearl nailed his young female lab. The guy kicked her good and I don't blame him. Lucky he didn't do worse! I give her hell for being too crabby with the stash and she usually mellows a bit after the first week of season. But I know it will never go away. And I know hunting with a strange dog would be inviting big trouble. Curiously, she will allow Opal to actually take uplands away from her.

Chasing bunnies/jackrabbits when we're pheasant hunting has been a big problem but I seem to have finally gotten the upper hand. All three dogs are doing well around porcupines. I called them away from several this year. Pup will still point them if they're in the brush but she usually will not touch them. She somehow did wind up with eight or ten quills just barely in the end of her muzzle this fall. I didn't see the culprit. Presume she just got a little too close on her point. Had to pull a few quills out with my teeth. Skunks simply look too much like cats and unless the dogs smell them ahead of time they are likely to get hit before it's too late. If I see the skunk first I can call the dogs off. I can even keep them from chasing squirrels if I want. Now that IS an accomplishment! I have no trouble calling them away from bones or gut piles either. Several years ago Pearl and I had a close encounter with a very large lynx and I managed to maintain control over her without difficulty. Meet and greet with other dogs in the off-leash green space is still a work in progress. Some folks get a bit irritated but I explain to them that dogs won't learn anything as long as they are dependent on a leash. People with problem dogs should just stay out of those areas anyway and stick to the more civilized and regulated parks. Or better yet, they should trade those incorrigible mutts in for something that is not a problem. But, of course, that's not going to happen. Stupid dogs are usually a product of stupid owners.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Muskie wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

My beagle eats my lab's poop and have not figured out how to stop it yet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

With my Brit, Squirrels. The whole world ends to chase a squirrel. Old, past Setter: ate dead, rotting fish as if it was candy just to throw it up later in the SUV on the way home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dighunter wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

jcarlin, I'm with you on that one. Mine has an affinity for rolling in poop and anything dead that he can find out in the woods. Its always a little stomach turning to have to wash the poop from buckles and hardware on my ecollar.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

All my Setters have been pretty good. My son's Brit is in the best 5 gun dogs I've ever seen, but he loves rolling in poop, gut piles and porkies.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

My black Lab will not allow other dogs near a goose or duck in the stash much like OHH's Pearl. He is a bit lenient with the yellow pup, but only to a point. He will also show you his teeth if you get too close to my/his birds or seat. Nor will he allow anyone close to his truck. A bit annoying at times.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from twoodrow12 wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

I've commented on one of your porcupine blogs before... My pointer is obsessed with porcupines. He's had at least 10, closer to 15, trips to the vet to pull quills and he's only 4. On both of our trips to NW OK this year, he's got them. On our second trip he got into two on the same day. Hates them. Won't unlatch... I have to kick him hard in the ribs to get him to let go. I've decided I can't take him anymore... too expensive.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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