Every breeder seems to have a somewhat different discreption of started and finished dogs. Here is our version of what we do and what we call them.
We occasionally hold a pup or two out of each litter to see how they develop.. When we do, we take them through the puppy development stage with human socialization and daily romps in the field. They spend the first eight months to a year in our home. They are crate trained and learn basic social behavior. Our home sometimes takes a beating but the pups go to the kennel with social skills and get socialized with our pack. Along the way they are introduced to birds, both pigeons and quail and allowed to chase and if need be catch them. They are introduced to the gun the correct way and are flash pointing. Before they start their formal training we want them to have a strong prey drive and be "bird crazy". The price of the pup increases to 135% of the initial price.
Our formal training starts between 8 months and a year old with yard work. Three things we work on is; come to us, go with us and stand still. The classroom is our dog yard and their desk is the "chain gang". Each session starts on the chain gang to the command lead (eventually to the check cord) to the barrel and ends on the chain gang. We use the whoa post as the method to stand still and our students don't leave the yard until they stand still and are converted to the ecollar. They do not see any birds during this time as we want no negative association with them and birds during this stage of their development. The price goes to 150% of the initial price.
Back to the field Once they can be stopped (whoa / stand still) off of the whoa post with light stimulation from the ecollar we start the "generalization" stage where we take them to a different place each day to work on the whoa command. We go to the local park where children play, our rodeo grounds and of course the fields. Whoa means whoa regardless of where we give the command and what ever the distractions are.
Our first whoa command on birds is "stop to flush". We turn them loose and when they do a fly-by (run past us), we toss a pigeon over their heads and use light stimulation until they come to a rolling stop. We repeat this drill over time until they stop without stimulation when a bird is in the air. We also use it on rabbits and deer when the occasion arises.
After the pup is reliably stopping to flush, we begin working with homing pigeons in auto launchers. The pup is taught to find and point from scent and hold through point and flush (wing and shot) and stand still until released by a tap on the shoulder and verbal command.... The cost of the pup at this point is 200% of the initial puppy price.
The final phase is to transfer to quail or chuckar. The pup is now reliable to "wing and shot" on pigeons and is transferred to game birds. Scent of game birds open a new, exciting world to the pup and will test his will power. After he is reliably holding his game, the pup is now ready as he can be to hunt wild birds. The cost of the pup is now 250-300% of the initial puppy price.
Inevitably the pup will loose some of his staunchness during his first season. You may be happy with where his training regressed to but we will take him back after the first year for a tune-up at no charge.
All of our MasonRidge customers are welcome to join us and train anytime they would like.
* since we only compete in AF/AKC non retreiving stakes, we do not train a "forced fetch". There are professionals who specialize in this techneique.