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How to train your Dashing Bondhu Llewellin Setters!
By Michael J. Bloodgood, Supreme Grand Master Dog Breeder,
Life-Time Outstanding Dog Breeder recipient, and Professional gun dog trainer
of AKC, FDSB, UKC, NSTRA, IPDBA & other registered dogs.
Our personal dogs have won 3 Regional, 2 State, and 4 National Trails.
Our last 12 trail results are 9 firsts, 2 seconds, and 1 third,
all cast/brace winners and they never lost a cast/brace. That being said,
we now train only our own NATURAL, Pleasure Foot Hunting, Llewellin's Setters.
Mr. Llewellin training one of his
pure Dashing Bondhu Setters
First, I would like to apologize for not publishing this webpage sooner for our many past customers. This is still in a rough draft, so please excuse the roughness and any poor grammar until I get Marie to check it over after it's completion :)
We pray it will save you and your pup/dog from countless hours of unnecessary training and confusion. The best way to train any dog, is to first educate yourself about the pups/dogs background and bloodlines. Since, these are a pure strain that have been line bred for 150 years now, 99% basically reproduce like clones, except for their color and markings. What works best for one should work well for 99% of them.
First, thing you need to understand is that the Dashing Bondhu strain are completely unique from all other strains or breeds of bird dogs in the world, including and especially all the American strains of Llewellin Setters, whom have been bred by many breeders for horse back Field Trails which cater to a more hyper and more independent type dog, which are very unlikely to make a great family companion, or a true pleasure hunting bird dog with a strong willingness to please YOU! I am not saying they are all that way, but as American breeder's seek to win Field Trails over preserving them as pleasure hunting dogs with strong bonding, etc..
Customer's always ask "what training books should they purchase?" Unfortunately, most training books on training gun dogs us techniques for non-natural bird dogs and usually confuse the pure Dashing Bondhu's natural instincts, making training harder and longer in the long run. The only time I would recommend using those techniques is if your pup is one of the rare 1% and not the 99% that are born natural bird dogs who have a strong willingness to please you and hunt for you. The willingness to please combined with their amazing abilities and natural instincts to search/hunt for birds, point them, and retrieve them to you is what makes them so easy to train.
That being said, we do HIGHLY RECOMMEND, watching the "Dog Whisperer"https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-psychology His website is loaded with FREE information. We watch his TV show on the "CW" channel, and on the "National Geographic Channel". I guarantee you will learn something from every show, no matter how knowledgeable you think you are with training dogs, I know I do. He works mainly with problem dogs and the funny part is, he basically trains the owner more than the dog and within minutes has changed some of the worst problems I have seen. He basically teaches the owner how to better communicate with them and to become the "pack leader". I believe his teachings would successfully break a dog from even gun shyness, but better yet, if you use them from the start you will eliminate all problems before they even form., especially reading his webpage, "Cesar's Essentials" (Work with instincts, not against them.") at
Most other breeds and strains have been out-crossed for generations and bred by dog trainer's, using shocking collars and many new cleaver training techniques that would train ANY dog with any INTEREST in birds. In fact, when we trained dogs professionally years ago (mid-late 1970's), to prove that point, I trained a Beagle to point, retrieve, and back perfectly and as good as any bird dog. In fact, she was awesome on Pheasants, locating and trailing many that most Pointers never knew had ran through the field. The sad truth is, she was easier to train than most of the best pure bred bird dogs that wealthy clients would bring in to be trained. Sadly, we found out that many of those jug heads became Field Champions and were used for breeding, generation after generation, so we quit training as a pro at the top of my carrier and became a breeder of "Natural" hunting dogs, of all kinds. We even still have a few natural Beagles, and our Mountain View Cur dogs (Natural Tree dogs) for our pleasure. No matter what dogs we own, they MUST be born NATURAL at what they are meant for.
Unlike all other strains and breeds, the Dashing Bondhu strain of Llewellin Setters were developed and refined by the most knowledgeable bird dog breeder's in World history.
In British Setter circles the reference are still made to the "Great Triumvirate”, meaning, the three greatest men in Setter breed and the passing of the torch. Of course Edward Laverack, being the first, Richard Purcell Llewellin, being the second and last but not least William Humphrey being the third.
Many even called the pure "Dashing Bondhu" Setters, "The Humphrey Setters", but William Humphrey makes it VERY CLEAR, they are NOT his Setters, but are 100% "Sir. Richard Llewellin's Setters" and he deserves no credit for them, other than continuing these great Setters. Al King and I feel the same way, that we do not deserve any credit for their brilliance, just for recognizing them as the BEST and for saving them, preserving them just like they were 150 years ago, and continuing Llewellin's high standards for future generations of SPORTSMAN to enjoy.
None of the "Great Triumvirate” would have ever believed in the use of shock collars or force training methods, to compassionate for missing inherited traits in a dog. Their dogs were judged solely on their natural born instincts so they can reproduce those traits for next generations to come. It's simple, a dog can only reproduce it own born given instinctive traits and anything done to correct or shape them would and should make them worthless as a breeder, because the facts are that anything taught can never become an inherited trait.
The problem today is that most people have never owned a "Born Broke" or a "Natural bird dog" and some don't even believe they are possible to produce, so they will rely on training books, videos, new technology, and/or pro/trainers to train their pups, generation after generation in the name of advancing the breed. This has resulted in most breeds, losing their natural instincts and relying on certain training methods to making them gun dogs.
Basically, most pro-trainers force train the pup/dog to whoa on command and then trained to whoa when they smell a bird or see another dog whoaing on a bird and are then been force trained to retrieve. Once a dog is whoa trained and then taught to whoa on bird scent, they are "whoaers" NOT "pointers". This goes for all the pointing breeds today, or should they be called the "whoaing breeds" now? None of our Setters even know the word "whoa", or any other command to make them freeze in place. If you are seeking dogs with "Natural" pointing, retrieving, and backing instincts, what ever the breed, then ask how both parents were trained and if they were whoa trained. We have actually seen many websites bragging about all their dogs being "force trained"and "whoa trained", but after we started to educate the public what that really meant, many have remove it from their websites.
Please note: We no longer recommend "Taste of the Wild", Retriever® Hi-Pro dog food (from Tractor Supply® TSC), Ole Roy® Hi-Pro dog food from Wal-Mart® or any dog foods made by these brands. These high protein dogs foods will cause loose ligaments as they developed and our adult Setters had very little stamina and even had VERY poor scenting abilities to what the same dogs normally had when they were on "SportMix® Stamina" and it has now been confirmed with several customer dogs having the same problems when fed those foods. We never thought it was possible for a manufactured dog food to adversely effect a dogs scenting and hunting abilities until we fed them.
This may explain why we have been able to easily train the less than 1% returned unsatisfactory and place them in new satisfactory homes. If you are feeding one of them or are not satisfied with your dogs scenting abilities, or stamina, you will see a noticeable improvement feeding them one of the following foods listed below. It may be the answer to problems you may be having with your pup/dog.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: More fat, less protein improves detection dogs' sniffers! Article in Cornell Chronicle proves that higher protein and low fat ratio diets will adversely effect a dogs scenting ability. Our Setters have had 1/4 the scenting ability when fed 27/15 foods verses 24/18 diet. http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/03/more-fat-less-protein-improves-detection-dogs-sniffers
WARNING! Recent testing has shown that Blue Buffalo foods have only 5% Meat and not the quality as advertised. Blue Buffalo also makes "Taste of the Wild" and we do not recommend these very high protein dogs foods with no grains at all. Super high protein can cause loose ligaments, as well as liver and/or kidney problems later in the dogs life and the high protein and fat ratio's also affect scenting abilities. Our Setters will not grow right on super high protein foods of 30-34% or more and may effect their long term health/life and also will have scenting problems.
Recommended Dog Foods
#1 Though SPORTMIX® Stamina 24/18 is available at most Feed stores, TSC's, and Pet Mart stores, some of our customers may not be able to get the "Stamina" in their area. Even though it is available online, S/H may be high, so we recommend the following brands of dog foods in the following order:
#2 "Master Pet®" Summit 28/18 or High Energy 24/14 (Ohio Pet foods, only available in OH, PA, & parts of NY. We fed Master Pet for 20+ years, the best dog food on the market, slow cooked, highest digestibility 96+%, but can no longer get it here in KY, if it ever becomes available again we will feed it and NOTHING else.)
#4 Wholesome®, Lamb or Chicken & Rice, is an all natural, dog food made by SportMix® and are a high quality food, available at most pet marts and some-what more reasonably priced then Blue. It is also one that does not have super high proteins like many brands without corn, wheat, etc.. Super high protein can cause loose ligaments, as well as liver and/or kidney problems later in the dogs life. To find a store near you go to:
#5 Victor® Performance 26/18 Multi-Meat based formula (Beef, Chicken, Pork) that has excellent levels of both protein and fat supporting the needs of growing and puppies and active dogs. Fortifieded with high levels of both Glucosamine and Chondroitin. These additives work to support healthy joint cartilage, which is the key to long term health of your dog! I have not fed this, but it looks like a very good dog food. to look for a store near you go to: http://victorpetfood.com/find-a-store/
Please note: We do not sell dog food or receive any coupons or proceeds for recommending any of these products and only do so to help our customers select quality safe food for their pups and dogs. We have been offered many deals to feed our dogs and recommend brands that have by-products, digest and/or other additives we refuse to feed our dogs. We would never recommend something we would not feed ourselves, regardless how much they offer.
Understanding your pups mindset
Now that you know the pure Dashing Bondhu were Mr. Llewellin's personal Setters that he developed over most of his life-time to be NATURAL. The first thing for every owner needs to know is to understand their dogs mind set. Meaning understanding their perspective, point of view, or instinct.
Most pure Dashing Bondhu pups, will have a STRONG WILLINGNESS to please their owner. This trait is no longer seen in many other breeds today, because of poor selection or to produce a more independent dog, so they range out.
A Dashing Bondhu should build a strong bond growing up and thrive on attention and praise from their owner. So make sure your pup is well socialized while growing up and exposed to the world. Take them on trips and expose them normal level of noises (no gun shots yet or fire works) around the house.
If your pup starts to be stubborn or using his strong well not to please you, then best advise I can give you is to contact your local pets mart, a classifieds, or go online and find an obedience class in your area. The trainer will be able to solve any communication problems you are having and will be able to correct the direction of his well. Once he is using his strong well to please and obey you, your are on the right coarse.
Program your pup to hunt close.
If you like me, want your Setter to hunt close in thick cover, the thicker the cover the closer you want them to hunt. The best way to achieve this is the take your pup for a walk in the woods and as your pup runs up a head of you, back away and sneak behind a tree. as soon as the pup realizes you are missing they will frantically look for you and learn to scent you up. They will also learn to keep an eye on you in the future. Every time he gets out too far, hide on him. This can be accomplished in a field as well, by hitting the ground when the pup is not looking, just lay down in the grass so your pup cannot see you, they will quickly come looking for you. Always praise them and make a big fuss over them when they find you.
Either way, you now have programmed them to hunt a certain distance by when you hide on them. As long as the pup hunts the distance you want, then there is no need to hide, but every time they wonder a bit to far hide on them. It will also program them to come better and care about you more.
Your pup will still hunt out in an open field like a pointing dog is suppose to do. Remember a pointing dog does not need to hunt within gun range all the time, like a flushing dog must. The benefits of a pointing dog is that they will cover more ground in the open prairie as long as they can see you, you can see them.
I personally want them to hunt out up to about 150 yards in open terrain, if the point a covey or single, they will hold until we get there, but they must also hunt as close as needed in cover. The thicker the cover the closer they need to hunt, always being in sight of each other. We have never found another breed or line of dogs capable of doing this time and time again.
Best age to Hunt them
We usually wait until the pup is at least 8 months old, but we prefer to wait until after one year old to 2 years old because training a young pup is like walking on egg shells, so the older the pup is, the better. It MUST be ONLY during hunting season or on a shooting preserve when you can legally SHOOT the birds they point for THEM. Please make sure someone can come with you who is a good shot to do the shooting, so you can concentrate on YOUR pup/dog and they can flush and shoot the birds the dog finds and points. NEVER shoot a bird bumped or flushed by the young dog or they will think that is what you want them to do. As soon as the pup/dog starts to show signs of scenting a bird grab hold of the check cord. 99% will freeze on point natural.
Our Simple Training/Programming Method
We like to plant 5 or 6 very well flight conditioned quail in some good cover in a field that will completely hide them and without the dogs knowledge of their location. It is IMPORTANT that the quail be fully feather and not molting so they will give good strong flight when flushed, so the shooter can successfully flush and shoot them without endangering the dog.
After we have planted the birds in area's birds would likely be found naturally. We then get the dog and put a 30 foot check cord on them and work them all alone away to the side of the quail, letting them get some of their business done, play and energy out of their system. When they look ready, we then start to work them down wind of the quail we planted and then start to hunt them toward the quail into the air current or wind.
Programming the Point
99% of all young dogs will scent pointed their first quail 20 or more feet away. I then grab and take the slack out of the check cord just enough to let them know I don't want them to move forward. I instruct the shooter to get in front of the dog and then flush and shoot the bird away from the dog. Never get behind a dog and shoot over the dog. I let go of the cord as soon as the bird is hit. If missed, I hold on and keep the dog from chasing it and head them away from the bird. The worst thing that can happen is if the bird does not fly high enough to shoot and only flies short distance. They might catch the bird, or if that happens and the dog re-points the bird in the new location and the shooter is able to finally shoot the bird, dog will think it is OK to try and catch the bird or chase after birds that are missed and re-point them. You will have a bird chaser on your hands. If not corrected by you, a car/truck or even a train will likely correct the problem in the future as they chase a bird across a road or tracks.
Correcting the Setting instinct!
I have always been amazed to see that some of our Setter pups still have the instinct to set on point. Even though it tends to be an unwanted trait today, it proves that the bloodlines are pure and if they still maintain the instinct to set instead of point standing, they also likely maintain their other outstanding instincts. In fact, every pup we have seen that wanted to set on point, has always turned out to be an exceptional, one in a life time bird dog and family companion. Blaze was the first time we experiences the trait and she was a one in life-time dog, or at least we thought until we started raising this bloodline.
The first dogs known as Setters all set down on their bellies when they located and pin down a the bird/s. The idea was that a low setting dog would not scare the birds before the hunter/handlers could throw a net over the birds without catching the net on the dogs. In fact, some preferred to cast a large net over the Setter and the birds, so the setter could then catch and retrieve each bird to the handlers hands. This was especially important when pheasant or grouse were needed for a large banquet on the King's orders. The handler could cast their Setters and throw their nets over the dogs and the birds and let the Setters retrieve all the birds before moving to the next Setter, setting on some birds, until enough birds for the banquet were secured.
Setters were also the dog of choice when the nobles who were falconers with the King. The Setter style worked well with the birds, allowing the falcons to swoop down and snatch the flushed birds quickly. Even today, the Dashing Bondhu bloodline are the falconers dream dog. They learn to hunt with Falcons/Hawks and work as a team. They actually build a bond with the bird of pry they hunt with. We have placed dozens of our pups with falconers and all have been more than satisfied, knock on wood :)
It was not until the 15 century when guns became popular with bird hunting, did the Pointer even come in the picture, but the many founders still preferred hunting with the Setter, but as the style of the pointer became more preferred, more standing Setters were be trained to stand, but only the North Americans preferring the higher tail and stand the better, but still not yet preferred in most of Europe today.
That being said, only about one in ten have the instinct to set and this is how we correct it. We have always just lifted them up while on point rubbing their belly and encouraging them to stand and hold their tail up high, but once in a while, this does not work and the pup will insist on setting.
The safest way to get them to stand on point, is to teach them to stand on command. Just like with teaching your pup to sit for a treat or praise, you can also teach them to stand on command for a treat or praise. Once they are standing on commend, you can simply give the command to stand when the dog is pointing. This has worked VERY well.
If you have a real stubborn dog, the worst case scenario and last resort would be to have a trainer with a quality electronic collar, to set the collar on the lowest setting and put the collar on your dog around it's waist with the prongs placed on the belly. Be sure the collar will only tickle their belly and not shock them, or they may ruin the dog from pointing all together. Once the dog sets on his next bird, just tap the transmitter to tickle the belly and the dog should stand. After a few tickles, the dog should start pointing solid, standing high. 9 out of ten will even hold their tail higher if you encourage them to hold their tail higher, by rubbing and holding the tail higher.
We don't recommend working pups by sight, but here is a video of one of our early pups "Hank's Royal Flush" owned by Jimmy Cantrell. Jimmy is teaching the pup to hold his tail high on point, using a Chukar. You can see that he does hold it higher and higher because of his strong willingness to please.
For more photos and to hear more about "Hank's Royal Flush" as an adult, see Jimmy Cantrell's Testimonials on our Testimonial webpage. Jimmy is a KY Conservation Officer (now retired) and an avid serious grouse hunter, living in West Liberty, Kentucky and was kind enough to give us our first testimonial for our website. Flush was his first pure Dashing Bondhu Setter.
Shooting over your Setter!
We never shoot over or behind a pup or young dog, always tell your shooter to get in front of the dog to flush the bird and shoot away from the dog. We never shoot without a good hold of a check cord and while they are on point with only one good shooter. Once they understand the gun shoots the bird, so they can retrieve it (part 1 of their reward), they will learn to love the gun fire, but always use common sense when ever you shoot a gun. keep in mind, it would be better to leave a bird get away then to ruin your dog or worse yet shoot them or one of your hunting buddies. We have seen bad situations make a dog gun weary, even after having over two dozen birds pointed, shot. and retrieved. To much shooting to soon can ruin an outstanding dog.
We once had our original Blaze female pointing a covey down in some woods and had a young Bomber bred LS male backing her perfectly on the edge of the field, showing us where Blaze was on point. He was standing just in off the edge of the field looking down a deer path into the brush, when my son and I had just gotten on both sides of him, the covey rose up and we unloaded both our guns with the muzzle of the gun just about even with his head.
Needless to say, he had reached a breaking point and bolted. Once he recovered he did help to retrieve some birds, but was scared for life. From that time forward, he would locate and point birds perfectly, until someone went in to flush them, he would then break point and go behind me and lay down. Once the birds were flushed and shot, he would work the dead birds up and retrieve them perfectly, but never held his point or even saw a bird fall again. We would no longer hunt him with our other Setters for fear they would pick up off his negative reaction. so we ended up giving him away to an old gentleman from GA.
Programming the Retrieve
All our pure Dashing Bondhu Setters have automatically retrieve the first bird shot as I reel in their check cord, calling them while I am down on one knee. I praise them and pet them and then take the bird with my hand. If they resist letting me have the bird, I step on their front paw and add pressure until they let the bird go.
Only about 25% will drop the first quail right in front of me. I grab them using the check cord and reel the dog in so I can place the quail back in their mouth and while holding the bird in their mouth, I walk them to where I was standing and then praise them and pet them and then I remove the quail from their mouth. All have retrieved the second, third, etc. quail to my hand. We always praise them for a job well done and once they are consistent on locating birds, holding point, and retrieving to my hand, we then can try them without the check cord and with another well trained dog and add another shooter or two, like me :)
Programming or Honoring
All ours have backed (honored another dog) naturally after programming them with the 5-6 quail and we will hunt them the rest of the day on stocked and/or wild birds and with other programmed dogs. This is all the training our breeding Setters have ever needed. They are now ready for wild Quail, Grouse, Pheasant, etc..
Of course, very few are perfect every day or on every bird, so we always carry a check cord in my game bag, so if one ever starts doing something wrong we can take immediate control and work them until it is corrected. If a dog does not correct it's behavior on the next bird, or I do not have a check cord, they are put back in the dog box for a time out until the next hunt.
It has been that simple for us and what we expect from them, time and time again and generation after generation. The key is not to try and hunt them too young. It is better to wait and hunt a 15 month old the first time then to push a 4-5 month old that is not ready. Even worse is to allow them to follow along trained dogs shooting around them when they are not pointing their own birds. They should NEVER be hunted with another dog until they are fully trained alone and only hunted with other good dogs who are doing the same, point, retrieve, and back correctly. If you hunt with dogs that don't do these things correctly, your young dog will think it is doing something wrong and start copying their faults.
Hunting them for the first time with strange dogs and with strange hunters/shooters, is a sure way to ruin them. If a dog is not hunting for birds on their own, they are simply not ready and should be put back in the truck and taken home until another hunt a month later.
What NOT to do!
1. NEVER expose pups to fire works, gun fire, or similar loud noises. Doing so is a sure way to teach them to be gun shy. If you have already done this and your pup showed shyness, you should email us for the name of an excellent Llewellin Setter trainer. We ONLY expose dogs to gun fire when they are pointing a bird and when only with one good shooter, who knows to get in front of the dog and flush and shoot the bird away from the dog, so the blast is in front and away from the dog. It is better to let bird/s go then to ruin your dog. We made a top dog gun weary that we had shot about two dozen birds and were retrieved perfectly, by two shooters unloading (3 shots each) on a covey of quail while having barrels on both sides and about even with the head of the dog.
2. Do not use a wing for training. A wing is a dead part of a bird and they do not instinctively point dead birds and will want to chase and retrieve them. Even if you get them to point the wing, they will learn to look for it and will look for the bird when they smell one and flush the bird in the process. This will result in having to train your dog using the Whoa method.
3. Do not shoot over your puppy. Unless they are old enough to hunt and you are hunting them alone (without other dogs and one shooter) and they are pointing their own bird and you have all the slack taken out of the check cord. Very few well raised dogs will react to a gun shot, but if they do, take a hold of them and pet them and let them know everything is OK and then lead and encourage them to the shot bird. If they show shyness on the next bird, do not continue hunting them. Please email us for the name of a Llewellin Setter trainer.
4. Do not hunt them without shooting birds they find and point. The praise you give them for their retrieve is their reward for doing a good job finding, pointing, and retrieving to your hand. If you flush birds without shooting any, they will think, that dummy cannot catch them, let me try and they will start flushing birds trying to catch them.
5. Do not hunt them with multiple dogs or shooters, until they have the basic fundamentals down to a "T" and have shown no problems being shot over and with finding, pointing, and retrieving at least 5 birds in a row on their own.
They are NATURAL hunting, pointing, retrieving, bird dogs and keeping things natural is the best way to train them. If you have a good wild bird population, especially woodcock you can just take them hunting and follow the training method above and they should do it naturally.
They will instinctively want to hunt into the wind and where birds usually are and will usually hunt in front of you, unless they don't feel birds would be there or the wind is coming from a different direction. Just point in the direction you want them to hunt and walk that way and they should learn to swing over in that direction, but do prefer to hunt into the wind. They also naturally course back and forth in front of you. They learn quickly how to use the wind currents and will wind birds hundreds of feet and even many yards away. They will also know if birds have past by and will swing out in the direction the bird/s headed. You will have to see it to believe it. They will amaze you every time you go hunting or even around your home. Their is simply no more natural bird dog or better family companion dog EVER created. They are Guaranteed to please you for their life. We have maintained over a 99% satisfaction rate since 1996. We have even been able to easily train 4 out of 5 pups that have been returned and sold them as started or trained dogs with 100% satisfaction to date.
We like our dogs to be 100% NATURAL hunters. Because of their strong bond and strong willingness to please, they all naturally come to us when called by name and that is all we care about. We do not teach our dogs to whoa. The whoa command is usually used to keep dogs from breaking point, so we don't like the whoa command. If you like to whoa them, they will easily learn to whoa, but once you use the commend, your dog no longer on point anymore, it's on whoa.
Our dogs learn quickly to hunt in what ever direction we hunt in. So no need for whistles or yelling at them all day. I hate to hunt with hunters blowing whistles and yelling all day, so I think, no one wants me doing it either. They quickly learn to head in the direction we are headed in without calling them or we can simply point in a direction and they will naturally head in that direction. We call each dogs by name, but only when we need their attention or to come.
That being said, you are welcome to train your dog the way you personally want them to hunt and act like. Because of their strong willingness to please, they can be easily trained to whoa, sit, stay, heal, be steady after shot, retrieve on commend.
Happy Hunting and God bless you and yours!
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