Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My thoughts on "Breaking" a dog

The term "broke dog" is used pretty freely these days. Unfortunately, many don't realize where the term "broke" comes from.
In the old days, a dog was truly broke, it's spirit often broken in forcing subservience to it's handler. The dog's that could accept this treatment thrived and won, the dog's that couldn't, passed to the great beyond.
Harsh treatment is still commonly used to break a dog. Often because of time constraints. It just takes longer to "naturally" break a dog. But, I believe that the results are well worth the extra time and effort!
The average dog will show much more desire, ability, animation, and, love for it's work, after using a more natural breaking process.
Give the pupil enough birds, enough time, and firm and consistent, but also loving, direction, and we are rewarded with a truly natural and spontaneous partner in the field...
And, isn't that what we're all striving for?


  1. Bill: A great observation. Part of it is language and part of it is training 'technique.' I have a couple of grouse dog training books from the 1930s where switching a dog with a rolled-up newspaper was how a trainer literally beat the dog into submission. The minor distinction I would observe is that 'force-fetching' or 'force-breaking' are often used interchangeably and aren't necessarily interchangeable -- because the former uses just enough duress to compel a dog to retrieve (which might be a stern word in a highly controlled environment) where the latter is about eliminating resistance and trying to rebuild from there. As you know, Momo has just returned from being force-fetched. Don't know if you saw my post today, but the transition has been interesting (and positive) for both of us. Hopefully it will continue that way.


  2. That's an interesting point, Andrew. I don't FF Setters for a retrieve, because it's just not that important to me. Sometimes a Setter will do it naturally, other times not.
    When it comes to retrieving, I just take what I can get. Hunting dead is another issue.
    There's an old truism passed down from dogmen who know far more that I, and it's this...
    "In training to correct one problem, we often creat two others"

    I've always tried to keep that in mind..

  3. Bill: Another great point. Our trainer said the same thing... that even once he got the retrieve locked into place, we would probably have to go back and re-train for something else. In this case, it looks like being steady-to-shot...