Need a little help taking a few steps back with a high energy GSP. I have had Molly for 2 1/2 years (since birth) and just hunted my first planted or placed quail birds this past 2008 season. I have taken my time from the beginning, starting with the ol' wing on a string; commands like sit, come, and woe. Took some time with a frozen bird hid in the yard to intorduce her to sent cone, and have spent time shooting around her from time to time. Things felt promising once I was able to leave her on point in the yard for 2 to 3 min at a time, using a wing. It was time to take to the field after a year of training.
Once we reached the first placed bird, she fell on point about 6 to 7 feet away and stayed. She did not creep until I passed her position. I don't remember if I tryed to make her stay. I was so excited that I finally had a dog (my dog) on a real bird point, with gun in hand for the first time. I kicked the bird up and she all of a sudden acted more like a flushing dog than a pointing dog. She gave chase until the bird was shot down and then tackeled it. Funny enough, she brought the bird to me and laid it on the ground close by. Not too bad I thought. After a few more bird, she bagan to creep up until she was able to see the bird. The the race was on. Using tame bird, she was able to catch a few of them. If hunting meat is the goal, well, I have the right dog. The problem is, she is not always able to catch them and many start getting away. I shifted gears and began to work on making her "woe" once she was able to see the bird. It seemed to work for a while, until she began to point dead birds that had been shot down. I used the word "dead" over and over and eased her in until she picked up the bird.
She has a good nose on her, and is not shy around gun fire. She points and will stay until I get there, as long as I am reinforcing with a command. She follows me well in the field, staying no more than 40 to 50 yards or so away. I use a whistle in the field only to get her attention and to re-direct her movements. She is crazy for birds and enjoys being on the hunt. I feel like I need to take some steps back with her, but I don't really know where to go from here? I feel like working her with another dog that is well trained and a little less excited would help. Not sure just how to teach her to honor the other dog's point though. Do I need to handle her with someone else shooting? Do I need to use a long lead rope to hold her back once birds are flushed? Is it better to come along side her and hold her around the waist at this point, helping her to understand and follow the bird as it goes down or gets away? How can I get across the idea of "dead fall?"
There are many things that she is getting right, and a few things I am hopefully getting right. I can see some problems coming, and we haven't ever hit the wild birds yet. I don't want to ruin this, my first gun dog; and I don't want to make the process so miserable that we both give up. I don't want her to loose the spirit for bird hunting, while trying to fine toon myself and her both. Slow is the key, and fun is still the goal at the end of the day. I would like to enjoy a few birds in the sack though.