“Our partnership with Tri-Tronics serves as a model for what a sponsorship relationship should be,” remarked Bob West, longtime NAVHDA Director. “The high quality Tri- Tronics builds into their e-collars assures our members a reliable product with a wide range of levels fitting the needs for each situation which in turn promotes humane ethical training”.
The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to foster, promote, and improve the versatile hunting dog breeds in North America; to conserve game by using well trained reliable hunting dogs before and after the shot; and to aid in the prevention of cruelty to animals by discouraging nonselective and uncontrolled breeding, which produces unwanted and uncared for dogs.
“The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association has long played the role of a vital caretaker of the sporting dog world by establishing hunt test criteria and maintaining breed standards,” commented Gary Williams, Marketing and Sales Manager of Tri-Tronics. “Because of NAVHDA’s dedication to the birddog community, we consider our relationship as a vital part of our marketing strategy.”
Tri-Tronics, a Garmin company, manufactures a full line of electronic dog training equipment. Training collars are backed by a 30-day money-back, 2-year warranty. All products are made in the USA.
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Kevin Howard (573) 898-3422
D.T Systems Tips For Crate Training Your Dog
D.T. Pro Staff dog trainer Ethan Pippitt of Willow Creek Kennels in Little Falls, Minnesota uses a variety of techniques in training hunting dogs. He has found the vibration feature of the D.T. Systems H2O 1820 Collar to be a very effective tool when crate training your dog.
Dog owners often see crate training as something that is unnecessary, too difficult or time consuming to try, or even unnatural for the dog. When you look at the origin of dogs, and strive to use more natural training techniques, we can see these are simply common misconceptions about crate training.
Looking at the origin of dogs, we find that they are the domesticated form of the gray wolf. Over a time period of approximately 15,000 years dogs were domesticated and developed into hundreds of breeds designed for many specific tasks. Taking into consideration that domestic dogs were originally derived from wolves we can assume that some wolf habits will come naturally to the domesticated dogs of today.
Naturally wolves are den animals and like enclosed safe environments. Our dog’s kennel is their den and should be a safe place that is their own within our house. Providing this for our dog, starting at a young age, is not only good for us but also our dog. Having a crate or “den” for your dog will give him a safe place of his own as well as give you the ability to know where he is and what he is doing to prevent unwanted accidents, especially with puppies. With a little history behind why crate training is natural for a dog we can look at the proper way to crate train.
First, you need to start your dog in a crate that is the right size. Your crate should give the dog enough room to stand up, turn around, and lay down without hitting their head on the top. However, the crate should not provide enough room to allow the dog to sleep on one side and defecate on the other. Dogs are clean animals and do not want to “go” where they lie. The correct size of crate allows you to prevent unwanted crate accidents.
Once you have the right size crate, it is important to keep it close to an outside door so that your dog has a quick route outside. Consistency is key; outside is the first place the dog should go when leaving the crate. You will be able to increase the time your dog stays in the crate gradually until your dog is able to hold its bladder at least eight hours or an average night’s sleep. Also, making outside the first stop will condition your dog to this process, which leads right into house training.
After your dog has gained some bladder control and is conditioned to relieve himself first thing after leaving the crate or “den”, you will be able to allow your dog in the house knowing when he last went to the bathroom. Begin this introduction to the house gradually starting with 30 minutes in the house then back in the crate. You can wait 15 minutes or so, then allow your dog again to go outside to relieve himself. You will be able to increase the time in the house always knowing when the last time your dog emptied his bladder. Soon your dog will be fully house trained and will never learn that wetting in the house is even an option.
After looking at the history of dogs and their nature and comparing the natural concept of dens to crates, you can see that crating your dog is not too difficult to learn. Also, you can see how effective and helpful crate training can be while trying to house train your dog.
Having a solid crate training foundation will help when you start to teach the cue kennel. This process can be viewed in our recent video showing how to teach “Kennel”. The video includes how we recommend using DT Systems H20 1820 to vibrate condition your dog to kennel. Check out this video at www.willowcreekkennels.net.
For more information about Willow Creek Kennels and their training methods visit us at www.willowcreekkennels.net.
By Ethan Pippitt and the Willow Creek Staff
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Ethan and D.T.
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Kevin Howard (573) 898-3422
By DT Pro Staffer Chad Hines
D.T. Pro Staff dog trainer Chad Hines of Willow Creek Kennels in Little Falls, Minnesota uses a variety of techniques in training hunting dogs. He has found the vibration feature of the D.T. Systems H2O 1820 Collar to be a very effective tool in teaching young dogs.
Here are Chad’s answers to some frequently asked questions from dog owners.
What is Positive and Negative Reinforcement Training?
The famous behavioral psychologist, B. F. Skinner, defines positive reinforcement as an increase in the future frequency of a behavior due to the addition of a consequence immediately following a response. Giving (or adding) food to a dog contingent on his touching the target is an example of positive reinforcement (if this results in an increase in the future behavior of the dog touching the target). Negative reinforcement, on the other hand, is an increase in the future frequency of a behavior when the consequence is the removal of an aversive stimulus.
How do you use Positive and Negative Reinforcement?
The backbone of Willow Creek’s training technique is positive and negative reinforcement. We look to increase the likelihood of a behavior in the future by teaching positive reinforcement and following up with negative reinforcement, albeit mild with the vibrate conditioning.
Nearly all commands are taught with a clicker and a food reward (positive reinforcement). This develops a very consistent, reliable dog by creating the desire for a positive reaction. Although counterintuitive, using the term “negative” in animal training does not mean it is bad. The negative reinforcement can simply mean something is taken away. So when using the DT Systems H2O 1820 collar, the vibration is taken away. We hold the vibration button down and wait until the dog touches the target, help them if needed, then release the button, taking away the mild, effective form of negative reinforcement.
How do you use a Clicker?
We start clicker training puppies as young as seven weeks old. A treat is placed in the hand between the pointer and ring finger, with the middle finger receding to provide backing so the treat does not slip out. This “target” is presented to the pup and we allow him to take the treat from our hand. As soon as the pup touches the hand we “click.” After about 30 repetitions most dogs will be watching for the target very closely. If the dog is not interested in the food reward we can remove morning feedings and train before we feed or find a better food reward. Hot dog slices work extremely well when nothing else seems to elicit interest. We usually use 2-4 sessions, at 30 repetitions per session, before moving on to vibrate conditioning.
How do you use the Vibration Feature?
The trainers at Willow Creek Kennels have found the vibration feature on the DT Systems H20 1820 collar to be very consistent and easy for dogs to understand. As with any new stimulus, it can take a dog a bit to desensitize to the sound and feel of vibration. This sensitivity makes the collar more effective because it mildly annoys the dog and he will try to shut it off. As a human, imagine someone gently poking his or her finger in your arm at the same time asking you to say uncle. If you said uncle, the poking stops. We basically do the same with dogs with the vibration feature. We ask the dog to do something and when they complete the task the vibration stops. Vibrate conditioning goes even quicker when combined with clicker target training.
How Do You Teach Using the Vibrate Feature?
The vibrate conditioning is very simple once we have a dog who is clicker trained to target. The session is started with a clicker target and once we have the dog focusing on the target the vibrate button is held down until the dog touches the target. Vibrate is negative reinforcement, but also becomes a cue that we are asking the dog to recall. The important part of successful negative reinforcement is having a positive stimulus (food reward) come after the negative stimulus (vibrate). Again, we use 2-4 sessions, with 30 repetitions per session. When the dog is proficient with the vibration cue we start adding a verbal whistle, or here cue, before the vibration.
Food rewards and vibrate conditioning can be used to develop and strengthen a variety of behaviors. This concept can be used for sit, whoa, stay, place, conditioned retrieve, kennel, etc. Incorporate vibrate conditioning into your training to develop a consistent, reliable hunting companion.
To view a video explaining these methods in more detail, visit http://willowcreekkennels.net/trainingvideos.html and click on the “vibrate conditioning to Here” video.
Chad Hines of Willow Creek Kennels is one of D.T. Systems top Pro Trainers. He has developed a new training technique that has greatly increased the performance of the upland dogs he is training.
“Dummy Launchers have been used for some time in the retrieving community,” says Hines. “Recently, we have been using them in our upland training as well. We have found dummy launchers to be extremely beneficial in increasing prey drive and marking ability.”
In the spring of 2010 Willow Creek Kennels visited fellow Orvis endorsed training and breeding facility, Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, MS. Chad and other trainers from Willow Creek were amazed to see the British labs at Wildrose pick a bumper in a flight pen with over 80 pigeons and pheasants flying around them. This idea transpired into firing a dummy launcher in line with a flushed bird, which a pointing dog had found and pointed. Chad found with proper training, dogs will mark the dummy as if it were a downed bird.
Chad starts by giving the dog the “whoa” cue. Next, he fires a light blank without a bird present. If the dog retrieves the dummies well, this step in training will be very easy. He plays this game until the dog will retrieve the bumper in any situation. They never fire the bumper unless the dog is successful with the “whoa” cue. The fired dummy is positive reinforcement for a properly executed “whoa”. This process is similar to our use of Positive Reinforcement Pigeons which strengthens our dog’s “whoa” using positive reinforcement.
“Next, we transition to retrieving a dummy with a bird present. To accomplish this, we put a bird out and bring the dog in to point it.” Chad says. “We then flush the bird and let the dog chase it. When the dog returns, we “whoa” them, and fire the dummy. This adds a great middle step between having no birds present to being able to walk in, flush the bird, fire the launcher in line with the bird, and our dog will mark and retrieve the dummy. This process allows us to provide a positive reinforcement retrieve on every job well done.”
“The D.T. Super-Pro Dummy Launcher is the perfect tool for this training. The launcher is easy to use and sends the dummy as far as we need for any situation,” says Hines. “We have shot thousands of loads through our Super-Pro launchers and they keep performing.”
There is a big difference between a hand thrown bumper and a bumper fired from a launcher. The increased speed of a fired bumper stimulates prey drive. Being predators, dogs naturally will chase anything that tries to get away.
“When we first start our launcher introduction we use a light blank and fire it low creating a bouncing, rolling bumper that most pups cannot resist,” says Hines. “This bounding dummy is a great way to develop retrieving and prey desire in any dog. It is very important to fire away from the dog because the dummy needs to appear to be trying to get away and not attack the dog. To increase prey drive, we create situations where birds and dummies try to escape the grasp of the dog.”
Before starting to train with a dummy launcher, be sure to have a proper gun introduction for the dog and use an assistant in the beginning to distance the dog from the launcher. This will decrease the chance of having gun problems with the dog.
Chad has found he can greatly increase the marking ability of dogs using this training method. He starts with light blanks and easy marks. In all dog training, the smaller the steps taken, the faster and easier we get there. He then, slowly adds difficulty to the marks and increase the distance by using heavier charged blanks. In Willow Creek’s training program, they try to replicate everything from a high-flying snow goose mark in the open to a low flying woodcock in an aspen thicket. The D.T. Super-Pro dummy launcher makes all these scenarios possible.
The innovation of the dummy launcher has greatly benefited Willow Creek’s training program. Dummy launchers allow them to increase prey drive, marking ability in waterfowl and upland training, and reward our dogs positively for a job well done even when shooting birds isn’t an option.
Chad says, “Dummy launchers can be great tools for training and playing with your dog—just remember to introduce your dog properly to gunfire and enjoy time spent a field with your dog.”
For more information on Willow Creek’s training methods, please visit their website at