How do you pick a trainer?

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How do you pick a trainer?

Postby Karen_P » Thu May 13, 2004 8:43 am

So you ask around, get a couple of recommendations and now it's time to actually pick a trainer for your dog.

I would assume you look at their "accomodations"...make sure their kennel is clean and the dogs look well cared for. Ask how much time daily will they be spending with your dog (I'm assuming frequent, short sessions is desireable), ask about their training philosphies and methods, maybe ask for references, find out how many Brittanys they've trained to hunt, if they field trial or hunt test with their dogs, if they'd be willing to handle your dog in the field if they excel, anything I'm missing?

Also, would it be unreasonable to ask a trainer if I can spend Saturdays with him while my dog is boarded with him? I've never hunted before, never owned a trained hunting dog, and need training myself!
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Picking a Trainer

Postby Beth » Thu May 13, 2004 11:09 am

My Dad always wanted a hunting dog - we had an Irish Setter and an English Setter growing up and he sent them school and we would get phone calls saying he was wasting his money. Beau, my Brit, was a present. Well, my Dad saw potential and at the tender age of nine months old sent my baby off to school. His trainer was awesome. He returned all my phone calls, allowed visits anytime, required that my Dad come and work with him and Beau at least once a week. Beau was supposed to be gone for three months but he was so smart he was ready to go two weeks early! I don't hunt but would go with my Dad to watch him and Beau and they are a joy to behold. Nothing like watching an old duffer try to shoot birds and Beau with this look on his face like "when are you going to hit something!?! The big joke in the family is that Beau has had to run down at least six birds that my Dad clipped and he did so the score is Beau 6, Dad 0. Anyway, I think it's alot like picking a daycare facility. You like one that encourages visits, scheduled and unscheduled, and is willing to answer all questions whether they are stupid or not. Beau was none the worse for wear and actually much better behaved than when I dropped him off. Good luck with training! Also, my Dad asked around and spoke to several people who do field trials and had hunting dogs. It's my observation that it is a pretty tight group of people and they won't steer you wrong with names of people they trust with their dogs.
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RE: Picking a trainer

Postby JimC » Thu May 13, 2004 6:22 pm

I'd recommend talking to your vet. He or she may be a hunter or have a good idea of what trainers in your area are good with Britts. Ryker's vet is a bird hunter. When my wife brought him in for his initial checkup after we adopted him she (the vet) told her that if I wanted to hunt with him he needed a soft touch trainer and that I should train with him. This was after she told her we had "hit the jackpot" in getting him. She gave me the name of her trainer. I contacted him and he's going to evaluate Ryker's potential next weekend. If he feels Ryker has potential, Ryker and I will have one-on-one hour long sessions once or twice a weekend with him. Then I can work with Ryker during the week at home. If he doesn't feel Ryker has potential then we won't train for hunting. This is ideal for us. Ryker is a great companion. But I know hunting's in his genes. You should see him point and stalk the songbirds. But he's hunting for himself. If we can't train him to hunt for me I've lost nothing but a few dollars. I'd still be spending the time with him. We don't have to board him and he remains a part of our family. Not to mention everything I'll learn.
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Picking a trainer

Postby CJ » Wed May 19, 2004 11:26 am

Karen,
Which ever way you use to choose a trainer.... I'd absolutely positively insist (but you shouldn't have to...) on being able to visit & take part in the training/handling of your dog. It is not at all uncommon for people to take their bird dogs to a pro and have them turned into a finished hunting (or hunt test, or field trial) dog and then have them not perform for them personally when they get home. Part of this is sometimes because they don't use the same commands that trainer uses. And more often, it's because the dog is smarter than we give them credit for... They know/remember that we (most owners) either aren't consistant, or we're push overs. Soo... they fall back into the status quo of home life. One other thing is that most inexperienced owners/handlers talk to much to their dogs. The dog gets used to working with a good trainer/pro who shows them what's expected and then shuts up and lets them do it... and then we bring them home and put them in the same (basic) scenario altered sometimes only by the fact that "over handle" (run our mouths to much) because we either don't fully trust or fully understand their ability. By doing this, it adds confussion and the dog ends up not performing to it's ability and slowly digress to the point where they were brought to a pro to begin with.
Soo... that was all said to reiterate the point... yes, you should ask to visit one (or more) days a week/weekend... and not only visit, but participate.
Other than talking to your vet as mentioned (which I agree is a fantastic idea... my vet & her husband hunt their bird dogs too), try to find a local or regional Britt club. If you're looking for a local trainer, chances are pretty good that people from your local/regional club have seen the local trainers in action. Either at Hunt test, field trials, or in the field during hunting season. They should be able to give you insite on them (and they may be members to the club and.... may discount your training cost because of it... but don't expect that... and/or may be more willing to work with you more because of it). In addition to the local club helping to find a trainer, they may have training seminars at discounted costs or... for free....
One last thing about picking a trainer (by the way, it's great that you've put so much thought into this!!!), make sure the trainers view or what a dog should be at the end is in line with what you envision for your dog. I say this because there are several schools of thought about what working Britts should be/look like. I personally don't ascribe to the camp of having a Britt that is big running and works like an English pointer, but some/many do... So with that said... you need to choose for yourself what you want to see from your dog at the end of this and pick a trainer with a similar end result in mind. It would be very frustrating to pick a trainer and then 3 months later find out that you want a close working "foot" dog and end up with one that is hard to catch even on horse back!
Best of luck! c.j.
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Postby Karen_P » Wed May 19, 2004 7:40 pm

Thanks so much for all your replies! I definitely want a close working dog for a foot hunter. I've read lots of books on it, but I am realistic. I simply don't have the time or know-how to train a hunting dog of the caliber I want to wind up with.

I would love to find someone that will work closely with me through the puppy months so that I have the basics in place by the time I send her away for formal training.

I have time though. Our girl isn't even due until the last week of June.

Thanks again!
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Postby Barb Wright » Fri May 21, 2004 5:51 pm

Quoting CJ:

One other thing is that most inexperienced owners/handlers talk to much to their dogs. The dog gets used to working with a good trainer/pro who shows them what's expected and then shuts up and lets them do it... and then we bring them home and put them in the same (basic) scenario altered sometimes only by the fact that "over handle" (run our mouths to much) because we either don't fully trust or fully understand their ability.


CJ: One of the hard things to remember (and to teach new mushers) was to not "chatter" at the dogs. A really good dog, and one you would cue in on for a possible future leader, would run with one ear cocked back from time to time, listening for commands...but if you tended to yak at them they started tuning you out. The tension and stress during a race is intense, even for the dogs as they are feeding off your excitement as well as their own, and just an occasional "good dogs", whispered, was more than enough. They knew their jobs (training had done that) and they just needed to know the essentials like stop/go/turn this way/pick-it-up/easy/on by, and so on.

It would seem to be extremely important to be "trained" along with your dog if you were going to be able to handle them properly, that is, if you are new to the sport/event and as much of a neophyte as your dog. Anyway, just wanted to point out that the "keep your mouth shut" technique crosses over to many working dog situations. It is hard sometimes for we humans to shelve our arrogance about being "smarter than the dog". :)
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Postby CJ » Mon May 24, 2004 9:02 am

Barb,
Haha, I was just formulating the thought "wow, they have to keep their mouths shut too to be sucessfull!" when you summed it up. A pro trainer I know (Dave Walker) advocates the best investment in training tools is a roll of wide, heavy duty tape... to put over the owners/trainers/handlers mouth.... It's really funny to watch him teach this as he doesn't let on as to what it's for untill it goes over the "problem area". LOL
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Re: Pro-Trainers

Postby Lady Upland Hunter » Tue May 25, 2004 3:16 pm

Hi Karen and all!

You asked if it would be unreasonable to ask a trainer if it is all-right to spend time with your dog on a Saturday, etc. Well, in my humble opinion, I think it's very important that you connect with your dog while he is living with a pro-trainer. Many people that have their dogs with pros even take them home on the weekends and a good trainer will do anything to accomodate you and help you in any way he/she can. My pro-trainer actually let his clients come to his kennels/training grounds and take the dog out for as long as we wanted with full run of his facilities plus he always worked with dog and human!

Actually, my belief is that when a bird dog is being trained, the majority of the training should be with the owner/handler present. I have seen many, not all, but many dogs come home from pro-trainers and not work for the owner/handler thus I believe that if the goal is handling the dog yourself, whether it be the hunt field, AKC Hunt tests, etc., it is best that the trainer work with both the dog and YOU too!
:idea:
....just my two cents,
Cathy Ann Kedzierski
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Work with the trainer

Postby amroberts8 » Mon Jun 28, 2004 10:14 am

I have read these responses and they are all right on in my opinion. You MUST work with that dog and the trainer in order for it to work. After all, you don't want to train your dog to hunt with the trainer, you want it to hunt with you. If you plan to enter the dog in AKC hunt tests, you should be the dogs handler as well. If a trainer is not willing to work with you, find another one.

I hope this helps!!!!

Drew
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