| October 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever im Wasser

Photo by Fotolia

This is going to be a very short article, but, hopefully sweet!

What I want to discuss are some adages we all have heard, but that periodic reminders won’t hurt. I know I certainly need to be reminded of them from time to time.

First the spine and then the mind. When lining up a dog either for marks or for a blind, it is very important to have the spine lined up correctly, and then get the mind focused next. Often, a dog will line up looking at the right area, but if you check, the spine is aimed in another direction. Almost invariably, the dog will follow where the spine is pointed. I have looked only at my dog’s head at times, much to my regret.

Train don’t complain. I first heard this back in my obedience days at a Bob Self/Jack Godsil clinic. When you have a problem with your dog, it is of no value to complain about it, complain about the judges, or just moan and groan. The only way to fix the problem is to actually “train”!

Train the dog you have. Each dog is different, don’t try to make him into your older dog, his uncle, or a fuzzy person. Evaluate your own dog and his/her qualities. Is it soft or sensitive; does it have a good water attitude or not; what are its training attributes? I was starting with a young dog in obedience and was a little frustrated at times because it couldn’t do things my other dog did readily—-then one of those “duh” moments when it struck me that no wonder— my other dog was a four year old OTCH dog with four years of training behind it while this little girl was just starting. I had made the mistake of not training the dog I had.

Line manners—two inches, becomes a mile. A lot of dogs with a high level of desire tend to jump forward when the marks are going down. An inch or two doesn’t seem like a problem—but then the inch turns into a foot, and before long, your dog is breaking for the bird. Stop the forward movement right from the beginning. Do not let it become a habit—as it can become as addicting to the dog as a bad habit can to you. Work on obedience right from the beginning. Sit should mean “sit”!

Keep an open mind. Don’t close your mind to any new ideas, training methods, or suggestions re problems you might be having with your dog. You don’t have to jump into them right away, but you should evaluate them, mull, and consider would they really be helpful to you or not. Don’t feel that there is only one way to do anything.

Don’t point your finger at something and then turn it into a real problem. It is easy, especially if this is your first field dog, to become panicky about a problem that might raise its ugly head. But, is it really a problem or are you worrying unnecessarily? One case in point is a young dog coming in and mouthing a bird. I am not talking about eating a bird, but the often typical rolling of a bird (particularly a small wet pigeon) in a young dog’s mouth. Instead of losing your cool and really getting on the dog at that point, remain calm, encourage the dog to hold it, and then go back and do more hold, fetch, and give training in the yard. What happens when you get overly excited about something such as this, is the dog then becomes convinced it is a big deal. I know, I did this with a young dog when I first started. It took me a lot longer to move past it in that case. With the next pups I had, if it occurred, I didn’t make a crisis out of it, I just went back to doing yard work and then did a lot of working with the dog on “hold” and carrying the bird in its mouth without mouthing it.

I always feel that if something happens once, note it and move on. If it happens twice, note it again, and on the third time realize you need to do some work on it before it does become a problem.

Don’t try to cover a pop, especially in training. A lot of persons will blow a whistle the minute their dog pops. This is exactly what your dog wants to do, stop and sit and have you help him/her. If you try it in a test, don’t think you are fooling the judges. If your dog pops, the main thing is to get it moving again with a quick verbal “back” and an arm raised immediately. You want to move it out of the pop as quickly as possible. Then don’t blow the whistle in the next second to try to get your dog back on line, let it roll with the momentum. Forget about the blind, just get your dog out there and moving. In training, you might want to have some back up blinds planted so that if your dog pops, you can get it rolling again, and even if off the original line, you can then pick up another blind without having to repeatedly stop the dog. Mike Lardy has an excellent description of a drill he does which has proven very successful: Long Distance Force Drill, page 11, of Vol. II, in “Training with Mike Lardy”. This is in soft cover.

Praise is important, but it must be sincere and do not over praise—it must mean something.

Always keep a balance in your training.

Never be afraid to simplify and back up if needed.

Category : Blog, Hunt Training

About the Author ()

Glenda Brown owns both Goldens and Labradors. She is on the Board of the LRC and is the field liaison to the Golden Retriever News. She is a Founding Member of the CRTA, has judged a Master National Hunt Test and the National Amateur. She has competed in conformation, obedience, tracking and hunt tests but her primary venue is field trials. Her husband competed in agility---with some of the field dogs. She has and has had Field Champions with both her Goldens and her Labs.

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