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Here are some shots from yesterdays pheasant hunt.
It was really lovely weather, although it was snowing for whole two days until the very morning we were heading to the fields.
There was a lot of snow yesterday but not too cold.

I was wondering how difficult it is for dog to pick up scent of game in a weather like this for example? Is there scent at all, or do they hunt on sight?

I would love to hear from more experienced members, their thoughts.

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Ok Susan, I’m not stingy, we can agree on a few coins ;)

You keep saying that dog has to learn how to use his nose.
Can I ask you to elaborate a bit on that?

Are you saying that passion for hunt is something a dog is learning, and not inborn?

(p.s. thanks for the pictures)
Uh, Dusan , you are getting me into deep waters... PLEASE; ANYONE; HELP!!!

But as no help seems forthcoming, I will try to elaborate a bit...

I'll start with your question 'Is the passion to hunt something a dog learns or is it inborn' ... maybe we should transfer these questions to the main site and maybe get mor input there?

From my understanding it is both! All behaviour stems from part biological (genetic) background and environmental influence (learning). Or to put it in the words of experts, most behaviour is composed of nature (biology, genetics) and nurture (experience).
Certainly the interest in hunting is part of a genetic predisposition, just as is the temperament of the dog. Both however can not be expressed without the eviromental influence which enable the dog (or any species) to learn to use these faculties. for example a setter from pure hunting lines that lives secluded from all game contact up to the age of 2 years is unlikely to become a top field dog. Not because the genetic predisposition is not there but because the normal developement of hunting behaviour has been severely restricted during those important years in a dog's life.
On the other hand even a dog with great inborn passion to work who is trained early with good results, can be quickly ruined by too much pressure or by brutal punitive actions. This dog will have learnt NOT to hunt. Asking too much from a young dog without giving him the chance to succeed can cause frustration and an increasing unwillingness to work.

Most dogs (all breeds) will have a passion to hunt, after all they descend from wolves. In setters this characteristic has been influenced by selective breeding for good hunting dogs. Even the average show setter still has enough of the predisposition the hunt to enable it to be trained to a decent level, albeit much more time and effort will be needed. These dogs will need more positive reinforcement (ie success from the dog's point of view) than the average working bred irish setter.

So the aswer to your question would be that the dog can not have one without the other. Considerate training can increase passion or can dull it. Genetic predisposition and temperament will always influence the behaviour and learning processes will also always influence behaviour...

Now back to your first question:
Some dogs seem incapable of using there nose, they seem unconsious of having any scenting abilities. They use sight only. I try to let my puppies use therir noses very early by scattering dry pellet food for them in the grass, so they learn to sniff if they want food... later I may place the food bowl out of sight (maybe 10 metres) but with the wind coming from that direction. The puppy quickly learns to follow air scent.
I am not saying they would not learn to use their noses themselves... but I know gundog trainers in the UK use these methods and is has worked well for me so far.

I am sure you have heard of the experiments done concerning eyesight. If a baby or newborn animal with normally developed eyes and normal developement of the brain is blinded, the nerves resposnible for transmitting the stimuli from retina to brain do not develope, causing blindness despite there being no anatomical defects.

I have experienced many dogs (I'm sure you have also) who were incapable of finding their owner hidden away at a short distance. These dogs all had a sense of smell (!) but had never learnt to use there nose in such a situation. They would listen, look, panic and run around wildly, hoping to find the owner. Others would stay calm, start sniffing and work out the problem methodically. They had learnt to use their nose.

OK, that is enough from me today... if you are interested in all this scientific stuff about dog behaviour I can recommend the books 'Handbook (ha!) of Applied Dog Behaviour and Training' Volume 1 -3, pretty hard going and I can't admit to have got through it all (yet!). Not easy reading!
I see your point now, thank you Susan.
Sorry i put you on a hard spot, but i think it was worth it - i find this very interesting.
(don't think i ever heard about those litlle tricks with puppies before)
Bet that Christianne and Henk and others will have something to add to this thread when they come back from holidays.




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