BITS AND PIECES
By Glenda Brown
The following are some bits and pieces of advice, suggestions, stories, etc., produced by a meandering mind:
This is a drill which can help with a creeping problem. Creeping is an insidious problem which often leads to outright breaking. You have to be patience and consistent when dealing with it and you need to set a high standard. You cannot let your dog creep in one situation and yet not in another. Creeping six inches can increase over time to six feet.
Have your dog sit 8 to 10 feet in front of the line. After the mark is thrown (I would suggest not using a flyer but a bumper when you begin), back up four to 5 steps and have the dog heel back to you. With the next mark that is thrown, back up again. Go six to eight weeks with never picking up anything unless your dog backs up to where you are standing. This should be done even for fun bumpers. Failure to back up should lead to a correction. The correction can consist of either an e-collar correction, a tap on the chest with a heeling stick, or any correction which your dog understands.
These are some modifications I would make or have made on the above. For one of my dogs that tends to creep, I will back up a few steps even if he only puts one paw forward. He has to heel back to me, sit quietly and then is sent. I try to have a mat to use especially when doing drills. I use the cue “mat” although “place” or something like that would do, and he must stay on that mat. I practice backward heeling with him so he is comfortable doing it. I will keep moving backwards, often many feet, and he will heel back to me for five+ feet or more while still maintaining eye contact with the mark. This has become a game to him and he takes great pride in doing it correctly.
During time off from hunt tests or trials is a good time to work on a creeping problem and to turn steadiness into a strong habit.
The following was taken from Connie Cleveland’s “Around the Obedience Ring” in the Golden Retriever News: “A correction is not a random act of violence. A correction is something the dog knows how to stop and how to avoid. A correction is something that you must teach a dog. It is not something you ‘do’ out of frustration and disappointment and hope the dog will respond. You must show the dog how to respond to the unpleasant occurrence.”
Connie is an excellent trainer in both obedience and the field. I admire Connie greatly, and if you have a chance to watch her handle in the field, take advantage of it. She is a “thinking man’s” trainer and handler!
Perseverance—-it takes 20/30 repetitions to teach something new. It takes 200/300 repetitions to re-teach something learned the wrong way. Try to do it correctly the first time around as it is so much easier. But—if you have to re-teach, continue to persevere as (old cliché!) “Rome wasn’t built in a day”! Too many persons think a new habit should be solid long before it is. If you are convinced your dog has established the new habit, keep working on it for another week or two. Don’t test periodically to see how engrained it is. Work until you know absolutely that your dog understands exactly what you want and what he needs to do to accomplish that.
Take a note from Gail Burnham. She emphasizes how to be a winner no matter what happens. Attitude! Set realistic goals as you and the dog progress. When things don’t go well, use it as a challenge, a reflection that there might be some things in your training that need changing, an acceptance that things aren’t necessarily going to go well each time. Attitude is so important. I want my dogs to run hard. The level of stress can change how hard they run. Stress can be physical, mental, or emotional. Check the stress level. Are you too harsh with your corrections and/or are they poorly timed? Do you nag? Are you inconsistent in what you ask of your dog? Does your dog understand what you are demanding him to do? Reread the earlier paragraph about Connie’s quote.
You want your dog’s respect without your dog’s fear. Dogs learn to love through respect. They need things in black and white.
If you have a problem, fix it and move on. Do not waste time either bemoaning or lauding the past. Do not get involved with negative energy. As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff…..and it is all small stuff.” Drills and imagination: The majority of drills are designed for a specific purpose, but with a little imagination you can alter almost any drill to produce a multitude of benefits or to work well for very different dogs. Some say that drills are designed more for the handler than they are for the dog. But, if you as a handler greatly benefit from doing these drills with your dog, in my opinion it makes for a stronger team. A drill should help sharpen you as well as sharpen the dog. Your mental state while going to line is important. Be focused on your dog while you are in the holding blind. Try to run through the thoughts you formed regarding the test while watching it earlier. If you couldn’t see the test dog, try to watch the dog(s) ahead of you. If almost every dog has the same problem, don’t think that yours won’t. Try to anticipate what you will do if it happens. It is important to run with a positive attitude, but it is foolish not to have some back-up reactions prepared.
I try to keep my dogs calm in the holding blind—and the method for this varies with each of my dogs. One I taught to lie down which produced great results—previously having been embarrassed by his behavior in almost tearing down holding blinds. Some want to be reassured. Some are very wound up and you have to stay quiet and calm and not let your irritation with their behavior carry over into your attitude nor allow them to pick up on your negative vibes. I have one that loves to roll in the holding blind. If I can go with the flow with him, it is his way of relaxing. I make sure he does not roll while the running dog is on line. He usually ends up going to the line looking like a dog in need of rescue whose owner has totally neglected ever grooming him. Twigs and dirt cover his back. He has an FC/AFC/MH so it hasn’t been too negative a factor! Mentally I have a mantra or two I will say—-focus, calm, take my time, etc. Think positive but be prepared if something goes wrong.
Work on line movements and those of your dog. You want to work in training so your dog will automatically align himself perfectly when you face squarely to the next bird. Develop consistent commands on line. Make the dog move with you and not you with the dog. Do not talk to the dog in paragraphs! Remember to inhale and exhale!
Train so that your dog accepts the responsibility for his actions.
The above originally was on www.everythinggolden.com. It is repeated here with some edits.