Thursday, May 23, 2013
Subject: "What is pointing" by Cj
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07/04/2007 10:04 AM
>>>>Pointing is a fixed action pattern, an innate response in bird dogs to the
sight or scent of a bird. It is an intense behaviour characterized by
muscular rigidity and intense concentration on the perceived location of the
bird. The origins of pointing were in the original wolf genome or were the
result of a fortuitous mutation. Initially it appears to have no survival
value for a wolf and occurs commonly in gun dogs because it is selected by
breeders. I am not convinced that the origins of pointing had no survival
value for wolves since the behaviour surfaces as a part of pack hunting in
wolves. Wolves primarily prey on cervids such as deer and moose and hunt
them in an organized pack, the members of which defer to the hunt pack
leader. One prominent aspect of this pack hunting behaviour that sometimes
appears is lying-in-wait in which pack members wait by a place where the
prey is likely to pass. As the prey is moved by one or more pack members
the waiting wolves are immobile and seek an opportunity to deliver a
crippling bite when prey approaches. The waiting wolves appear to defer to
the hunt pack leader which most often is with the pursuing wolves that move
the prey and are released by the close passage of the prey or the behaviour
of the hunt pack leader. Thus the hesitation before the pounce appears to
be a natural behaviour in some kinds of pack hunting and in solitary
Wolves are not normally bird hunters but our bird dogs have been selected
for generations for hunting this unusual prey. The original bird dogs would
'set' (hence the name setter) the birds for the net by lying down close to
the birds and waiting. This evolved, with the development of firearms, into
pointing. In Europe it is quite acceptable for a bird dog to point the
birds by lying down and indeed there are continental texts that teach how to
train the down for locating a bird. It would appear that the pointing
behaviour may well have had it's origins in the lying-in-wait behaviour
pattern of subordinate wolves. I think that the modern pattern of pointing
and holding the point in deference to the hunt pack leader is a selected
exaggeration of an original wolf pack hunting behaviour. It has been
suggested that pointing is a mutation but the fact that it is an innate
behaviour of variable strength and that it also occurs on occasion in many
non-hunting breeds suggests that it is a more generalized behaviour
controlled by multiple genes.
The intensity of the point that bespeaks excitement is quite like the pause
before the pounce observed in many other predators and so this aspect of
pointing is quite natural and to be expected. As with many innate pack
behaviours, such as retrieving, pointing can be strongly reinforced by the
pack leader. Repetition without interference from the pack leader is the
key to successful pointing in a bird dog and, as with the wolf in a hunt
pack, the signal from the pack leader can almost always trigger the chase.
If these are the origins of pointing it is a behaviour that is inextricably
linked to pack hunting and for most pointing dogs this appears to be the
case. Note that backing a 'point' is a normal behaviour with wolf packs, the
subordinate pack members do not chase until released to do so by the pack
leader. The parallels between wolf pack hunting behaviour and pointing dog
hunting behaviour suggest a common origin for the patterns.
I would like to ask for permission to publish this at our website, to tie it one way or another to your previous article "Scent pointing", perhaps as a kind of foreword. Is this possible?
Borta Med Vindens Kennel
"Ask not what your dog can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your dog."
07/04/2007 10:14 AM
Cj I would like to ask for permission to publish this at our website, to tie it one way or another to your previous article "Scent pointing", perhaps as a kind of foreword. Is this possible? Torsti ~~~~~~ Go ahead, no problem Cj
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