Pointing and Flushing Labrador Retrievers

Dave Siple • 661-847-8900
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Many people have asked me what I do with the dogs that I train. That's a hard question to answer given that it depends on the dog. There are certain things that apply to all dogs; however, like people, dogs are unique and each dog requires a different approach.

One of my customers also happens to be a good friend, and he's allowed me to share the story of his dog, Lacy, as it unfolds.

In early 2012, we bred River to Blue. We had a great litter and one of the females went home with her new owner when she was 10 weeks old.

On Thursday, September 13, I picked Lacy up from his house and brought her back with me to High River Labs where she joined the other dogs in the kennels.

Over the course of the next six months we provided regular updates on Lacy's progress and wel highlighted some of the training methods used to get her from puppyhood to being a great gun dog - all while remaining a great family companion.

Lacy has now spent a full year in the field and with her family.

* Note * - Every dog is different and her progress highlighted below may take some dogs more or less time to accomplish. The time it takes to train a dog will vary and it is an important discussion you should have with me, or any trainer you decide to use.

Please feel free to call me with questions.



Lacy @ 10 Weeks

Final Post - December 13, 2015

Apparently Lacy has done a tremendous job growing with her owner in the past year. They recently returned from a trip to Tule Lake and I was told that while pheasant hunting her owner shot a bird that sailed across a twenty-five foot canal and over an embankment on a wheat field on the other side. Lacy had flushed the bird and crossed the canal and was searching for the bird on the other side. Her owner gave her some voice and hand commands to get her up and over the embankment. She returned a minute later with bird in mouth and crossed the canal and delivered the bird to hand.

All these techniques were learned at High River Labs and the knowledge was transferred to her owner so that he could continue to help Lacy improve.

Call us so we can discuss how we can help you tailor a training program to best suit your needs.

June 10, 2014

Lacy completed a full hunting season and I was told she got on pheasants, chukar, ducks and geese. She apparently loves to upland hunt, but does a great job in the blind and is skilled at marking birds.

She has mastered hand and whistle commands which her owner showed off at the Raahauges Shooting Sports fair in Southern California several times in front of dozens of people to the amusement of the onlookers.

She still needs some help honing in on sailed birds, but her owner has been working her on deep water retrieves. Check out the video to the right to see Lacy in action.

Call us so we can discuss how we can help you tailor a training program to best suit your needs.

Congraduations - October 19, 2013

In March, 2013 Lacy went home with her owner who continued to work with her by throwing bumpers - singles, doubles, blind, etc.. He also started working her directionally with "back" and"over". As the year started warming up with the summer, he took it easy on her and simply continued to work retrieves.

In early October, High River Hunting hosted our first Bird Dog Challenge. Lacy and her owner came up for the weekend. At the end of competition I let him take Lacy out to work loose birds. After about 90 minutes they returned and her owner proudly told me that Lacy started out somewhat close to him, but as time progressed began moving at a greater distance. She worked the bushes and when she encountered a bird, would hold point. Her owner would command her to "hunt 'em up" and she would go into the bush after the bird. In that time in the field Lacy managed to flush up seven birds. Her owner could not have been more happy.

On the waterfowl opener I received word from Lacy's owner about her first hunt with just the two of them, unsupervised. He texted me the picture showing Lacy, now at 18 months of age. He reported that Lacy had a great time in the water and retrieving the birds. She turned out to be a great waterfowling and upland bird dog - just like her mom.

We did something right - again :)

Lacy is well on her way to becoming a longtime hunting companion.

If you have any questions on our training program, give me a call! I am always happy to help.

Month 6 - March 17, 2013

Today was St Patricks day and also Day 2 of the Super Hunt we had at High River Hunting. We had a lot of people come up to hunt and to help. Among the volunteer staff was Lacy's owner whom I call the "Prospect". He spent two days helping to get and plant birds and make sure that anything was needed while hunters were doing their business was taken care of. One of the nice byproducts was that he was able to spend lots of time with Lacy allowing her to enjoy time outside.

On Sunday after things had calmed down following the hunt there were a few birds left in the field and I had him go out with another two friends and their dogs. On this occassion I let Lacy go without supervising her hunt. I watched as she held pretty tight to her owner, but she did get out and check out some of the bushes when her nose picked up a scent. Like her mom, River, I could see her get very "birdy" and stay really focused on a bush - until the bird flushed. When it did, Lacy took off after the bird. River is notorious for catching low-flying birds and it looks like Lacy may wind up the same way. The two birds that she flushed were low fliers, but Lacy kept after them until she tracked them down. In both cases she dutifully returned to heel and held the birds until taken by her owner.

At one point gunfire from one of the other hunters caught her interest and, now knowing that "bang" means "fun", she was off. I could hear her owner calling for her and it took several attempts before she finally stopped and went back to her owner to heel.

Later this month is the Snake Avoidance class and that will be her first experience with an electronic collar, but it will be the beginning for that part of her training. Had she been wearing a collar, a quick correction to get her attention would have prevent the break from her owner and she would have held tight..

Month 5 - February 16, 2013

One of the decisions every gundog owner needs to make is whether they want their dog trained to force fetch. Personally, I recommend this training. While it is a bit tough on the dog, the training does teach the dog to hold whatever they have fetched until it is released to hand with the word "drop".

Lacy has a very loving and sweet personality and she is very willing to modify behavior. In this instance we needed to make sure that we took our time training her to force fetch. We introduced her to the training in December and we continued through January. This month we really focused on getting her to pick up and hold bumpers and she started doing really well with ear-tug corrections.

This dog has also learned to enjoy fetching bumpers. When she first came to me I thought she did a pretty good job marking, but in the last month I started throwing the bumper out as far as I can. It seems the further I throw it, the more she enjoys the challenge. Lacy is doing a great job marking and retrieving bumpers thrown out to 100 yards..

Month 4 - January 27, 2013

Immediately following the hunt Lacy had joined with her owner in December, I spent time with her continuing to reassure her with gunshot noises. We spent time while shooting clays and having her listen to multiple gunshots from a single gun.

We also continued working on retrieving. Every time I throw out the dummy or frozen bird I yell, loudly, "bang" to associate the fun she is having with the noise. This also helps to ease her reaction to the noise by associating that with her fun activity.

At the beginning of January Lacy went in to the vet to be spayed. She did well (and the staff fell in love with her). Following her return she was inactive for two weeks.

On Saturday, January 26 Lacy's owner came up with another two friends of mine and we all hunted the ponds on the property. We brought Lacy along to have her try her first live water retrieve. Although there were very few birds, we did manage to get a couple and gave Lacy the opportunity to retrieve in mid water. As it happened, the bird was close to a set of decoys. Lacy entered the water easily, but broke for the decoys rather than the downed bird. We helped her readjust course by throwing a couple of rocks towards her target. The noise and splash did the trick and got her back on target. She promptly picked up the bird and returned it to within four feet of the edge of the pond - and broke again for the decoys. Another rock got her back to the duck and lots of praise got her out of the water with the retrieve to her owner. I took the bird, tucked the head under the wing and proceeded to throw the bird out allowing Lacy to enjoy several more retrieves.

Following our luck with the ducks I told her owner to take Lacy out with him to chase pheasants. I was later told that she did a great job tracking down a couple of birds and her owner repeated the exercise I showed him by throwing the bird several times to reinforce her retrieving skills.

Lacy is well on her way to becoming a solid gundog.

Month 3 - December 15, 2012

In the past month we've continued working on heeling which Lacy is starting to understand. While she is not "snapping around" as well as I'd like, she is moving into position fairly well. We will continue to work on this.

This was an important month for her as I introduced her to gunshot noise. We have a clay thrower on the property and the dogs have heard the shooting on the property from the hunters as well as people practicing on the thrower. It was therefore simple to bring Lacy closer to the thrower and the periodic "bang" was not an issue for her.

This month her owner came up to visit and to hunt. Given she had continued to practice her retrieving and she was good on the heeling, I decided to let her go out on her first hunt with her owner.

I had the bird pens full of pheasant and chukar and placed them on the floor allowing Lacy to get excited about the movement and scent. She was doing everything she could to get at the birds. This exercise trains her nose and curiosity. It also tends to increase the dog's excitement about finding and flushing birds.

For the actual hunt I brought River, her mom, out and placed an electronic collar on her as the lead dog. Lacy followed along as I controlled River and watched as Lacy stayed close to her. This worked her sense of smell and getting out and in front. As the hunting group downed birds, River would bring them back (given Lacy was lagging a bit behind). I used the opportunity to hold River and then throw out the just-retrieved birds to allow Lacy to go out and retrieve. I did notice that the multiple gunshots had unnerved her a little, but reassurance and praise allowed her to get that tail wagging and get back out in front (rather than hanging back). Overall, she did an admirable job on her first live bird retrieves and, generally, on the hunt.

Given all the excitement and walking, she wound up getting very tired. A short swim in the pond helped to cool her off and the picture to the right (Lacy @ 8 Months) was just after the group wrapped up. Lacy was tuckered out after a good training day!

Month 2 - November 18, 2012

Heeling was the focus this past month with Lacy. She was fairly good while walking, but when standing and shifting she was not "swinging" and moving to position as she should. Several days working in a standing shift pattern and using the heeling stick really started to pay off. She is starting to understand.

Like her mom (River), Lacy is excellent at marking birds while retreiving. I can throw bumpers a good distance into heavy cover and her high drive results in her working hard to find the bumper which she readily returns to hand.

This past month we worked with frozen ducks which she loves to track down.

Things were going well so I invited her owner to come up to the property to train him on what he should be doing. He worked through basics with her on three separate workout sessions. I really enjoy the opportunity to work directly like this with owners if they are willing to come up to the property. In the long run is pays huge dividends.

Month 1 - October 13, 2012

Well, well, well... it's been quite the month with "Chantilly Lace", or Lacy as she's normally called.

Starting with the not-so-good. I was told she was housebroken and had not had an accident since the first month of living with her owners. In her first month with me she managed accidents in the kitchen, on my living room carpet and in the trailer - the trailer!

She barks as loud as her mom while she's in the kennel and she learned how to play tug-of-war with the other dogs. She also loves my couch. I've had to remind her that it's MY couch.

After she settled in we started working on basics: sit, stay, heel and some fetching. Her basic obedience was pretty good, but she did not like to stay properly heeled. I've had to work with her to keep her next to me as she should and we're still working on that.

We also worked on retrieving. I introduced her to live birds which she loves. However, in doing so she started to shy away from a plain bumper. If I threw out a feathered bumper she would go after that, but nothing on the plain bumper. To remedy that, I started taking away the birds and took away her fun until she performed.

This dog's a good swimmer and she has started retrieving bumpers from the pond when I throw them out while there are multiple dogs in the water - this teaches her how to track down the bumper in water.

This next month we are going to continue working with bumpers and live birds and I will begin introducing more voice commands. We will also keep working on her heeling.

So far, so good!

Week 1 - September 23, 2012

Even though Lacy was a dog we bred, she had lived with her new owner for about thee months. She was accustomed to a certain feeding schedule, and other living conditions. Any time we take in a dog for training at High River Labs we give the dog about a week to settle in to their new routine. The change to living in the kennels, a new feeding schedule and, particularly, other dogs is quite a change for the newcomer. We therefore allow them to simply get used to the surroundings and their new kennel mates..

I placed Lacy next to her mom, River, and brought her into the house on a few occassions to get used to me and the house (even though I was told she was housebroken, she did have an "accident" on my kitchen floor). She really enjoyed playing in the yard and meeting the other dogs. When I first got her I was struck by how much she looked like her mom. After spending the week with her, I can tell you that she also has her mom's temperment. This is one little fireball. I have also seen a couple of instances where she can be stubborn! We'll see how she does as we start introducing her to some training in the next week.

More to come...

Day 1 - September 13, 2012

After taking a few minutes to get Lacy comfortable again with me, we walked her outside and she was called to the back of the truck. She had only recently started to be called up onto high things so she didn't want any part of getting herself onto the liftgate.

I placed her front paws onto the liftgate and kept repeating the word "up" as I helped her get up and congratulated her once she was on the back of the truck. A few minutes meeting a couple of the other dogs, and then it was time to get her into a crate.

Lacy already knew basic commands, so she responded fairly well to "kennel"; however, it was dark and took a bit of support for her to get in. After that, it was making sure everyone looked ok and it was off to Tehachapi - and her new home.

Her first few days here will be spent getting used to a new routine and surroundings. Then her training program will begin in earnest.


Lacy @ 43 Months

Lacy @ 18 Months

Lacy @ 11 Months

Lacy @ 9 Months

Lacy @ 8 Months

Lacy @ 7 Months

Lacy @ 15 Weeks


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