Field Factors Part III

| March 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
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A Chesapeake and their handler at the line.

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever and their handler at the line.

Glenda Brown continues her Field Factors series with insights on how to introduce variety in your training regime.

In addition to the variety of terrain and the exposure to different water, including ponds with lily pads, points, small ponds, big water, running water, water with current, marshes, you need to vary your throws.

Throw at various angles—–generally throws will be square (90 degrees) or angled back from the thrower, but, occasionally you will have what is known as an “in” throw which is 45 degrees towards the line.  In doubles, practice throwing the short bird first with the long bird as the go bird.  Have the long gun considerably longer than the short bird, and again, vary the order in which you pick up marks.  Have the guns equidistant.

Use duck calls, have others use duck calls.  Send your dog while you are sitting on a bucket or standing behind a holding blind with the dog in front of the blind.  Get your dog used to waiting in holding blinds.  Practice sending a dog while carrying a shotgun (or facsimile of one) and while doing so, use gun safety rules.  Practice bulldogs and on occasion, have a wipe out bird thrown.

Be creative.  Watch Master and Senior tests, even though you are competing at a Junior level, so you can see some of the “gimmicks” as well as types of problems your dogs might encounter as they advance.

Turn your dog’s weaknesses into its strengths through training and practice.  If you have a head swinger, you can run singles with a series of guns in the field.  Even if you have set up a double or triple, if your head swinger pulls off the bird just thrown to look at the next bird, send him for the one just thrown.  This is training, and you are there to train, not to win the training session.

Be sure and practice with your dog as the honor dog.  At some hunt tests, two dogs will walk up together, both will sit, and only one will be sent for the mark.  Be prepared for something like this possibly occurring.

Depending on what type of hunt test you run, in some your dog might be expected to quarter, to trail, or even to be steady to flush.  Read the rules, watch upper level tests and train so that your nerves won’t be jangling as much since you know your dog is capable of doing whatever might be thrown at you.

If you can, get your dog used to a variety of birds which might be used at the type of hunt test you will be running.  You don’t want the first time your dog has to retrieve a pheasant or a chukkar to be at the actual test itself.  If you cannot get a variety of birds for training, when you arrive at a test you can always ask the marshal if you might “borrow” one of the birds to use so your dog will at least have smelled one and fetched one.  They don’t have to “loan” you one, but many are quite good about this.  Be sure and return it to them unless told otherwise.

While doing this training, the most important thing is to teach your dog first and be sure your dog understands exactly what is expected before you think about correcting.  Attitude is very important, for both of you.  Remember to keep all your training and your competing in perspective.

I wrote about a book by Gail Burnham called “Play Training Your Dog” which has a chapter called “The Inner Winner in the Ring”.  In this chapter there are some sections which I reread periodically.  There are two paragraphs I wish to quote:

“The qualities of a good dog are adaptability, resourcefulness, observation, concentration, a spirit of fun, a will to play, curiosity, love for the owner, and respect for the owner.”

“The qualities of a good trainer are adaptability, resourcefulness, observation, concentration, a spirit of fun, a will to play, curiosity, love for the dog, and respect for the dog.”

The above article was originally published in 



Category : Blog, Hunt Test

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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