You won’t hear Maurice Lindley say much to his dogs. His canine students learn mostly from touch and cue off of his body language. How the South Carolina-based trainer does it, from puppy all the way to finished dog, is succinctly summed up in this little gem of a book by author Martha Greenlee.
Letting the bird teach the dog is the underlying training theme. It isn’t an original concept, but Lindley adds his own touch to methods he gleaned from reknowned trainers, Bill West, Bill Gibbons and Dave Walker. Lindley’s method is distinct in the heavy use of remote launchers to mimic the behavior of wild birds, which don’t let dogs get too close. Teaching dogs to “stand still” is the foundation of the training technique. He teaches this with the checkcord, pinch collar and e-collar, without verbal command other than a quiet “here” to have the dog go with him.
He doesn’t teach the “whoa” command, unlike many other methods of training who start with it first, unless the dog’s owner specifically requests it, and then, only near the completion of the dog’s training. Even then, Lindley tells his clients to never use whoa around birds.
After the dog knows how to stand still, pigeons are launched downwind from the dog and it learns to stand and watch. Then the dog is allowed to scent the bird, but the instant any move is made toward the bird it is launched.
The dog may run at the bird for quite a while, but eventually it should start pointing and holding.
Most people think training a pointing dog is about pointing the bird. They think a dog needs to point every bird, but there is a lot more involved in training than just pointing. It’s about controlling the dog after the bird flies.
Lindley says, “…before I ask the dog to stand steady on birds, I’m going to teach him to stop and stand still and to not chase. Once the chase is out of the dog, the only thing left for him to do is point and let me flush.”
Lindley says it may seem like progress is slow but patience pays off because the dog really learns the lesson right the first time. “To me, dog training is not a race to the finish line. It’s like painting a picture,” he says. “This method gives the dogs a solid foundation that you can build on and it keeps the dogs looking good.”
The book offers good insight into how to cautiously introduce the e-collar to the dog, and a chapter on solving problems such a blinking birds, chasing dickey birds, flagging among other things is very informative. A few stories about dogs that Lindley trained are included for examples of how the trainer worked with them.
Lindley has trained bird dogs since he was in high school, over 30 years now, but he “…was fighting with the dogs,” and looking for a new way to work them in the early 1990s. That changed when he invited Walker, an Idaho trainer who gained fame in the Brittrany field trial world, to teach some seminars at his kennel, and subsequently met West and Gibbons. He was following their method of using loose pigeons tied to cardboard to train dogs but got tired of the birds getting caught in trees, so he started incorporating the remote launcher into his own unique style.
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