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Positive Gun Dogs: Reviews

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"I am certain that Positive Gun Dogs will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in gundogs, and a valuable source of reference to those who are keen to look at a new and kindly way of training an effective and happy hunting companion . . . ‘Positive Gun Dogs' takes an exciting and refreshing new look at the training of gundogs as hunting companions. No more ‘ear pinching' or ‘heeling sticks,' but at last a systematic, and effective way of training your gundog using a clearly set out and effective reward-based training programme."
—Pippa Mattinson, founder of The Gun Dog Club

"A pioneering experiment . . . a valuable and comprehensive training resource."
—Jeff Boston, UK trainer and field trial judge

"This book shows you how you yourself can develop keen, reliable, accurate gun dogs by modern methods, using clicker training instead of correction."

"The authors are familiar with the demands of the sport, the nature of the dogs involved, and the ins and outs of applied behavioral science as well."
—Karen Pryor, author, Don't Shoot the Dog

"This book brims with crafty applications of learning laws. The discussions of transitioning to intrinsic reinforcers, generalizing and proofing are among many first rate treatments of topics in this goldmine of a book. Never preachy in tone, Positive Gun Dogs deals rationally with the motivator choices and presents a clear option for those who would rather not employ pain to train their field dogs."
—Jean Donaldson, Director, Author, Culture Clash

"Positive Gun Dogs provides owners and handlers with highly effective but kinder and gentler dog training methods that motivate dogs to perform desired behaviors without causing the pain of traditional ear pinch and electric shock. The authors have created a valuable step by step resource to help owners in developing a motivated sporting dog for hunting and companionship."
—R K Anderson, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, DACVB; Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota

"Just purchased your book, Positive Gun Dogs. Love it! I trained dogs for 28 years using adversive techniques developed by Koehler. I got a dog trainer position with PetSmart, and was trained in positive reinforcement. I love positive reinforcement. I took a 7-year-old dog that I had trained with adversives, and used positive methods, and he became a different dog! Then I got a German shorthaired pointer (GSP) as I have always had one, a pup that I started training in the store. By the time he was 6 months, I could not find a positive trainer in the area. I did find a 'conventional' trainer who understood what I wanted but he and I didn't quite know how to do the FF. He was FF with a toe snare, the only saving grace was that since he was trained with positive reinforcement, he caught on quickly. He was a MH at 18 months, and received a pass on a HRC test! Now I have a 10-month-old GSP, and I held off FF, until I figured out how to do it right. Then I found your book! Yay! Her sire is a 10x NSTRA Champion, so I want to do right by her. Then I accquired her brother, so now I have two to get trained. Thank you for the big contribution to the gun dog world. I really think that there are people out there that want a better method without killing the dog's drive."
—Sandra Misaras

Pointing dogs training

I have also not yet read this book, but am very interested in the topics. However, I am wondering to what degree the book applies to pointing breeds. Most of the talk thus far that I've seen deals with retriever work, which my guy needs work on, but isn't quite as important to me in my hunt test and field trial training, where retrieving to hand is about the most that's required (no 400 yard blinds involved!). I started out training my Vizsla using traditional methods using a pro trainer (I didn't know any better), and he has passed his Junior Hunter (which relies more on natural talent than actual training), but doesn't do terribly well with correction methods. We have switched our obedience training methods to clicker training and he's doing so much better with that. Now we'd like to try hunt training with positive methods as well. So my question is, does the book go into such things as quartering, holding point, steady to wing and shot, backing, etc.? Or is it geared more towards retrivers and springers?

To Grusnick

There is a lot of basics in this book that you would find useful. It's been a while since I read the two books, but I have both positive gundogs and the clicker gundog. As I recall the quatering, holding point, steady to wing etc is more covered in great detail in clicker gundog.
However I am open for correction, as I admit that those exact subjects are the ones I skip lightly over, as I work retrievers.

thanks Jim

what is desperatly needed is a book that can give clicker applications to the whole Carr-lardy based training system.
Does positive gundogs deal with issues like controlling extreme excitability, line manners,cheating singles and basic ,transition and advanced training??
Mastering momentum and overcoming extreme inherited behaviour are perceived as one of the weaknesses of Op.Con. Possibly the good dog button on an e-collar might be a solution for long blinds.i have been a national place getter twice in the 1990's but never with a clicker dog. The Americans would call me Amish although I did use escape and avoidance training.I have only got into clicker training in the last few years and it has been a great experience especially since I don't washout dogs. No washout policy has been a great drawback to any success recently but when I take a dog on it is for a lifetime regardless
reading between the lines it appears that Jim's book is not geared towards the all age elite trainer however an introductory resource book is an important step in the right direction and I congratulate the authors on its publication

Jim Barry's picture

Advanced Performance

Thanks, Peter--you are correct that, as an introductory book, Positive Gun Dogs is not geared toward the advanced, all age elite competitor. We hope the you and others will share your experiences with using positive methods so that the literature continues to grow and specific advanced techniques are developed. I think the "good dog" button has a lot of potential; Bob Bailey used a similar intermediate bridge or keep going signal with dolphins that were doing extremely long distance work, with good effect. Let us know if you have success with this approach or come up with others!


i have yet to read this book.But I wonder if is relevant to competition retriever trials.I currently train using a non collar Rex Carr based program and would like to know if subjects such as teaching momentum on blinds and calling dogs back on wagon wheels etc are discussed.I noticed a distinct lack of information on the authors achievements in competition field or retrieving trials .Developing a hunting dog is light years away from a top line competitive retriever which is without doubt the best trained animals in the world.
I am interested in developing the necessary dichotomy between the free spirit and intelligence needed for marking and the complete control so necessary for blinds up to 400 yards.Will this book address these sort of issues for my already clicker savvy dogs

Jim Barry's picture

Competition Retriever Trials


Thank you for your comments and questions. As you point out, there is a great distance between training a hunting companion and preparing a dog for top level field trials. As one of the co-authors, I want to underscore that this is the first US book on positive training for field work. As such, it is intended as an introductory resource book. Some of the exercises that are required for trial work are included (wagon wheel, double-T, etc.) but not to the depth that you would find in Rex Carr, Mike Lardy or Evan Graham. Nevertheless, we think it will be a useful reference for those who, like yourself, are interested in high level retriever training without the collar. We hope you will enjoy it and we always welcome your comments.

Jim Barry


I have a fully trained gundog, which was trained with positive methods - I wish I had had this book 3 years ago, I wouldn't have had to invent things myself. Great book.
Christina, Denmark

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