Training and everyday events.
I have just finished listening to an audible book that was so enchanting I want to now read it, again, and again. The book is called Nigel and was written by the gardener and wonderfully spoken Monty Don.
Monty tells us of Nigel and of his other dogs he has had over the years, revealing his life and weaving through his garden as the story unfurls.
I laughed out loud at points of the story, and I cried when he told us about the loss of each dog, sharing a love that many of us have for our dogs, and also sharing with us that dreaded day we all fear.
He comes across as an open and honest man.
In one of the chapter Monty tells of meeting with a gamekeeper, he tells us that @I remembered every word when it came to training Nigel'. The Game keeper was at the least a second generation Gamekeeper, and over a couple of pints of beer he passed onto Monty some wise words concerning dog training. The gamekeeper said 'Everything should be geared to making the dog want to please you rather than subjugating it to your will.'
The gamekeeper also said never hit a dog. 'Reward is the key', he said, 'not punishment. the dog wants to please you more than anything else. Tell him he has done well. He will respond to the tone of your voice. But also carry some biscuits and cheese and give him a scrap when he does exactly what you command. By the same token never reward him if e he only does half a job.'
Monty in a later chapter tells of his belief that "Dogs can truly. in any sense of the word, love their owners. This means that the relationship between a dog and a human can be deeply rich and rewarding for both parties. They are not 'just an animal'. They are the dearest of friends and part of the family. So when a criticism is levelled that someone treats their dogs 'like children' implying that this is a step too far. it may well be that this is appropriate and reasonable. Every dog has a role that can only be determined by each individual family.
He goes onto say how that 'the notion that an owner has to assume the role of leader of the pack, to be the Alpha dog, with their dogs submissive and therefore obedient, is a nonsense that is a complete misunderstanding of the canine mentality. Dogs are not domesticated wolves but have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be a species in complete synchronicity with humans and dependant upon them.' He goes on to say how 'bullying your dog is a relationship based upon fear pandering to the macho ego of humans.'
Monty also talks about his son who is a farmer with a very skilled sheepdog called Meg, how she responds to the slightest look or intonation, but how you have to be really firm and shout at her at times to hold her back.
Wise words from Monty for that is all one should need at most to use with a dog, just ones voice. People say that the old way to train a dog was 'Break a dog', and yes that did use to happen and sadly still does. but there has always been throughout the years owners who have trained without ever raising a hand to the wonderful animal that is striving to understand what the owner wants. So many of us train our dogs with kindness, working through the training with our dog, together as a growing team that will share many wonderful cherished moments. Never needing to or wanting to raise our hand to them, never needing to give ourselves an excuse that 'it's only five percent of the time', for we know you don't have to harm your Partner to know to do so is wrong on so may levels.
The Stop and it's Golden Rules
one of the two most Important things all dog owners should teach their dog
A lovely Lady asked me how I got such a good stop with my girls, it is quite easy really, I just stuck by some Golden rules that I found worked for me and with some added Golden rules taught to me by some excellent trainers, two of which being the best trainers (as far as I am concerned) in the UK if not the world, and one isn't a Gundog trainer :)
The stop can and should be taught with positive training methods, to do otherwise would just lead to more complications later, and you want the dog to think and not to shut down. If done positively the dog will stop fast and think "Wow, she is stopping me, something good is about to happen" leading to a dog, alert and looking,. you do not want your dog on hearing the whistle to think "Oh no, I've done something wrong, what have I done wrong", as this will lead to a dog shutting down and therefore not open or ready for the next command or event.
The Golden Rules of the stop
Never recall from a sit
One must remember that the SIT is the STOP.
As soon as one starts training a pup or adult dog that hasn't been trained, or when recapping with an adult dog that has been trained, one should never recall from a sit but to always go back to the dog before releasing, this will mean that the dog will expect that, that will become the habit, creating a solid Sit. If one trains a dog to recall from a sit, then one has a dog that is always waiting for the recall and therefore the habit you have created in the dog will be to expect at some point to run in to you, therefore creating an unsteady dog through anticipation of the recall, and one never wants to create a bad habit that one will later have to change for habits are by nature hard to break and we never want to break a dog.
Some Gundog people worry that teaching the sit
from an early age in any form will supress a dog, this is not the case if taught with kindness/treats/vocal praise. I teach my girls the obedience side of Gundog training with all three of the above for one wants the dog to have a reward for the correct actions, it encourages the dog to do what otherwise would/could seem boring work. The dog gets a reward for the retrieving work and that is the retrieve, so why should it not get a reward for other work.
Sit while balls are thrown
When teaching a dog to retrieve I will hold the pup and throw the ball out and then release the pup, and as time goes on the pup/dog will be on lead while the ball is thrown out and then off the lead while the ball is thrown so that the dog never expects to run in after the ball until released by command or action, which sets the ground work up for the next step in the Stop. I would have also incorporated the whistle during this time.
Once the sit is good and steady and the training is coming along, I will start to ask the dog to sit and then put myself in a place in-between the dog and the ball I am about to gently throw and once that ball is thrown I will go and pick the ball up and go back to the dog and praise, and that praise can be voice action or even treats as you are praising for the sit as the retrieve has not yet happened, and whatever reward one uses you must make it clear in whatever way suits you and your dog that the dog has done exactly what you asked. Do not bore the dog with this in anyway, do it two or three times and then do something else, I stand
by the dog and throw the ball in and then allow the dog to go and get the ball.
If the dog goes wrong, just use your voice to let the dog know it has gone wrong, but not to aggressively for you do not want to put the dog of retrieving and because you don't want to use your really annoyed voice until the dog is older and possibly on live game.
I did use to run after the dog as well, the action of the running lets the dog know it has obviously done wrong (as you know I do not physically correct my dog as some would do once they had caught up with the dog) but even the action of myself just gently running in I have stopped. I stopped that under instruction of one of the wise ones, for even the running in can put a dog off and/or confuse the dog, and the voice has let the dog know it has done wrong. If the dog goes wrong it is your job to make sure the dog doesn't go wrong again by setting the exercise up better and making it more clear to the dog what you want, so that this time the dog may get the praise and therefore can see the difference from when the dog got it wrong and when the dog got it right. Make sure that reward, whatever it may be, is a clear reward, no mumbling 'well done' or even saying 'Good boy' in a boring flat tone, that dog wants and has earned your praise and therefore you should reward it with a happy and pleased verbal praise/treat/cuddle or all three.
The Throw Past
This is next step in the stop, and to begin with you will need your dog on the lead for you will be throwing balls past your dogs nose and asking for the sit by verbal and or whistle command. The aim that you are walking with the dog on lead by your side when without your dog knowing you throw a ball low to the ground past your dog, whereupon you ask for the sit, and you do this until the dog automatically sit without a command. Now again ,as for the rest of the steps, you do not want to bore your dog and you want to make sure your dog gets plenty of praise for doing what you ask it to do. You progress to walking with the dog on a loose lead and throwing the ball as you and the dog are moving, again aiming for the dog to start automatically stopping when the ball goes past. Then one progress to moving around with the dog off lead, trying to get a little distance between you and the dog before throwing the ball low and past the dog on the ground. Your goal is to have the dog hunting in front of you whereupon you throw the ball low and past the dog and the dog stops automatically without any command.
Throughout you have never let the dog retrieve that ball.
You have praised for the sit, and then picking that ball up walked to the side of the dog where you thrown another ball out for the dogs reward and release. This action also becomes clear in the dogs mind that when it hunts and something shoots past it the dog sits, and when the dog is by your side and something falls out of the sky it goes and retrieves it, which is exactly what you want it to do on shoot in both examples.
Praise, Do not Bore, Do not use correction, and make you requests clear.
The weather these past days has been sunshine, rain, showers, and wind, and with every alteration in the weather comes good points and bad points, and no matter what the weather brings I do so love this place for it holds beauty in all the variations.
When the sun shines and I am outside, be it with the girls, or animals, or gardening, the hills are a stunning backdrop, the downside to the hills ...they are higher than the one I am on and therefore can hold back/pinch the snow i often long for, the positives to that is my plants are protected from to much snow as are the animals. Being on a hill the winds certainly get a pace on when whooshing past, plants have to be fabulous at Palates, and the wildlife need to know where the hiding places are, which we make sure there are plenty of nooks and crannies for them to sneak into when the wind wishes to blow them down or up, depending on the direction of the wind. The positive to the wind, it really does have a knack of making one feel alive, and it keeps the midges away while it is blowing.
When the weather forces one to go inside and get on with the things one needs to be doing, well from inside I get a cozy view of the wildlife and the countryside through the window, especially with the feeders situated so that one can see the visitors to ttables from the windows, from there I get to see Woodpeckers, Robins (my fav) most of the Tit family, and I get to see the Leverets, hares, bunnies, pheasants and partridge that come into the garden for shelter or food, and if I look into the skies I see the Buzzards and the kites hovering (they too are good at hovering) above looking for a meal, or swopping through the valley, or even just resting on the stone walls.
Now we come to one of the events this week that made me think of Good and Bad... The Stoat .. oh how I hate those stoats, but even in them there are positives if one looks hard enough. I shall tell you the positives first which will lead straight into the big negative of the Stoat. The stoat is such a beguiling creature to watch, it's speed, it's playfulness, it's love and protection of it's young is to be admired for it will move the young often from one nest to another, and it is such a beautiful creature, and it keeps the rabbit and hare population down......yep that is where the bad of the stoat is.... A couple of days ago I heard the cry/scream that I hate to hear, it's the sound that comes from an animal that has a ridiculously small thing (in comparison to it prey) trying to kill it, and because of the size difference the death is not an instant one and neither is the length of time the animal has to suffer in sheer terror. Sadly the animal suffering this time was the beautiful young leveret that I had watched only the night before playing outside my window, shaking in such a funny way when a drop from a branch would drip on his nose, he had also been making friends with a rabbit, which was a joy to see..... but now he was in front of me, stoat gone by the time I got there, as did the poor Leveret after a few convulsion through shock and a bite on his neck from that darn stoat. Hares are an animal that should be admired for it lives a hard and lonely life, but it does not kill, unlike that darn stoat, and I know the stoat needs to eat, and life always balances out, but it would seem to me that the stoat has a far more joyous and gifted life that the hare. The baby stoat has a mother and it's brothers and sisters to play and grow with, a Leveret (baby hare) has nothing most of the time, not even it's own mum who will only check in so to speak. A stoat has many cozy homes to run too, while the Hare braves all weathers just tucked in a dip on the ground, not even a burrow, now that I'll never work out for if I was a hare I would want more protection, but I suppose they need to be above to keep their eyes open for that darn stoat.
As a meat eater, I can't say much about the stoats way of life, especially as it is an animal an I am a human, but because I am a human I can feel sadness about an animals suffering, and as a Human I can and should make sure that the meat I eat had an excellent life and an extremely fast death. As a human I can and also should make sure that the animals in my care do not suffer by my hands, not even for 5% of the time, for I have the intelligence as a human, and hopefully the humanity as a human, to be able to prevent needless animal suffering, hence why none of my girls are hit when being trained by me, for it is not needed and my humanity demands that to be the way.
It was my humanity, with the aid of an extremely good man, that meant I ended (very sadly) one of the ducks life this week, he was born this year, sadly he went shooting around a slippery corner to fast and in the process damaging his leg beyond repair, I would not and could not let him suffer and so we ended his pain in a split second. As a meat eater, he will be used, and I will eat a duck that lived a darn good life until the accident, he roamed in fields and swam with his family to then wonder in and sleep on a straw bed at night all nestled together.
In my mind, because we are humans we are floored, but because we humans we must use are intelligence to be kind to the animals we eat, and to rear/train in total kindness and understanding.
Now I shall end this on another positive/negative, with the rain came great joy for the ducks, their little stream became a pond.
Enjoy life, be kind, do not make excuses up to justify wrong done to humans or our wonderful animals, and always look for the positive!
And just for Good measure, and because they are the reason the blog is here
A Couple of the Girls from this week, as are all the other pictures.
Well, our Bella was in the wars again, though thankfully she is now well and trotting around once more.
Bella suffered an attack of Central Vestibular, far more serious and not usually such a good outcome as peripheral Vestibule'
It started by Bella looking as if she had blood lose from the tumor or a stroke maybe, for she was very weak, circling and head hanging to one side, all very worrying. There was hope with the diagnoses of Central Vestibular, there wouldn't have been if the tumor had erupted and therefore we were relieved somewhat when the vet said it was Central Vestibular, not so relieved when instead of picking up she went down hill over the next 24 hours.
Central vestibular disease usually has a poorer prognosis than the more common peripheral form, primarily due to the potential damage to the brain stem, which can be overall quite devastating.
The inflammatory condition, may respond to treatment initially, but it can progress to a point where it could be untreatable. Hence why I was so worried for her.
The way we got her through it was by syringing honey into her mouth and the same with the water, and she stayed with me 24-7 until she was better. Once she became a little stronger I mixed sardines in tomatoes sauce with cottage cheese into a puree that I could syringe into her mouth as I had done with the honey, bit by bit little by little she slowly become stronger, gaining her strength back ever so slowly. Somehow when needed to I carried her, so until she could walk down the stairs on lead, she and I stayed down stairs.
Now, she is totally fine, fingers crossed.
I was asked by a friend, "What do you think about Puppy Classes?"
His son had just got a Springer spaniel pup and he wanted to set off on the right foot, so-to-speak.
I think they can be good, in fact group training throughout the dogs life can be great fun and an excellent way to meet like minded people, just remember a few things along the way as you pass up the stages.
The vet Introduction classes
I remember our Vets puppy classes for our springers, they were run by our loop fruit friend (sadly lost to us now) at the local vets. For the pups it was their first time, and for a little one this new experience can be quite a scary one.
Do not let the bigger dogs jump all over your pup, not even those demon yappers who seem fearless while your little pup is tucked under your feet hiding, and if that great bounding chocolate lab wants to play with your pup and is trying to get under the chair to do so, gently stop him from doing so, and don't feel guilty for all dogs are different and if your dog doesn't want to join in then there is nothing wrong with that at all. What you don't want is for him to have a bad experience and be put of other dogs, so help him until he is ready and be his protector until he is ready. You don't want your puppy to be pushed and shoved about no matter how playfully the other pup may seem nor how nice the owner of said pup may be, that isn't a great introduction to the big world, but watching that big world from the safety of behind your owners legs until you are ready to come out and join them, well that's not so scary!
The next stage, is possibly going down the kennel club route, going for their certificates, and I have to say the Puppy certificates are really cute, sad of me I know but they are Pink after all, he he he!
Now this may be the first time you are looking for a trainer, so
what do you look for?
Look on the web, not necessarily on the Trainers own web site/you tube channel, for on those channels you will just get the comments from his/her friends and people who believe the same as them. Pop into the browser the trainers Name and Kennel name if they have one, to review the comments from people who are no longer going to them, and if there is any who have had bad experiences with that trainer. If they are mild dislikes you may decide to continue the check via looking at the trainers web site (if they have one) or even sit in on a lesson or have a one to one lesson with the person to see what the trainer is like, and how you get on with them. If they have bad reviews, and more than one, look for someone else. Never at any point be afraid to change trainers
Example... My first Gundog trainer went around the game shows doing displays, his displays were of a trainer who only trained with kindness and that is what he did for the first level of the training, but then when we moved up the groups it changed, he started to show how he disciplined dogs by hitting them and even kicking them, that is when I left.
If I saw a trainer hitting a dog in training classes and/or allowing others in the class to hit their dogs, I would quietly take video evidence with my mobile phone with no one wise to why I was taking that footage, leave the class as normal and send the evidence to the RSPCA. Sometimes the RSPCA have to build a case, and therefore if everyone who came across that bad trainer did take footage and sent it into them they could build a case that showed this continual method of training cruelty. If we all did that it would mean slowly the bad trainers would be thinned out, trainers who us punishment as a tool are not good trainers, especially when they cannot even train to a high standard when using those bad methods. And if someone asked you for your opinion on that trainer you can show them the video so that they can make their mind up on whether to use that trainer or not!
A friend of mine stayed with the trainer I first went to for longer, and to a degree was became desensitized to what that trainer and group did to their dogs, she didn't want to leave the group and lose all the friends that she had made there, there were some lovely people there (some right nasty ones) and neither of us wanted to lose them, but I couldn't stand by and watch their methods.
'So, Never stay with a trainer who turns out to be something you did not realize, and never be pushed into doing something to your dog that you know in your heart is not right. Thankfully all my other trainers have been totally different.
You need an understanding trainer.
You do want a trainer who will respect you if you wish to 'not' follow his or her every instruction
Example = When I went to obedience classes with my Springers, I never wanted to recall them from a sit as I wanted them rock steady for their gundog work, and the trainers I went to always respected that fact when I explained why. For the kennel club tests I had to recall them, but that was a one off, far better a one-off then actually doing a recall every week in the class, for one wants to create Good habits not bad habits as habits are hard to break so don't create ones you will have too break.
Another example was when one of my gundog trainers suggested tweaking Jay jays ears, she had been off training for months (when I had a nasty fall down the stairs) and therefore she needed tightening back up. The trainer was convinced that if I didn't tweak her ears I wouldn't get her back under control, and I said to him that 'I wouldn't tweak her ears but that I believed when next I come back Jay Jay would be back under control once again' ..... She was, and he had to admit that she was, and thankfully he never pushed his view of that type of training on me, which I was grateful for.
Everyone has a different amount of correction that they will give a dog, a tweak or taking it back to the spot etc, thankfully if we chose not to do those things (which I chose not to do) that is fine, well very fine actually, but hitting a dog tormenting a dog for a behavior it has done wrong is in no way acceptable, that is to far and is punishment and unnecessary punishment at that.
Does the trainer need Qualifications
In my opinion No, some trainers who have been absolutely fabulous have had no qualifications at all, they need to know what they are doing and that you will only find out by word of mouth and your own experience as time passes with them. The same goes for qualified people for the deciding factor is can they teach dogs and can they teach humans not can they retain facts from a book.
Remember, do not go to any trainer who hits a dog as a training method, even if it is just for 5% of the time. Some trainers will give some form of telling off, and that's fine as long as they leave you to decide whether you wish to follow, but hitting should not be expectable and/or causing stress and pain to a dog, At All, those trainers aren't good enough to teach YOU!
Have great fun with your pup, train a little and often, and all will be well!
So wonderful Bella who is thirteen very soon, decided to chew a towel, thirteen years old and she reverts to puppy hood, bless the cheeky toe rag. Anyway, when the vets opened her to remove the towel, they sadly found legions and nodules all over her liver, cancer. They phoned me while she was on the table, they wanted to inform me about what they had found and to see if I therefore wanted them to still go ahead with the surgery even though she may have not recovered from the surgery, and even if she did she may not have had long with us or may only be with us for a few months, I of course said for them to continue.
She is three weeks on and doing so well, she has healed wonderfully thanks to the very good stich work by the vet, an excellent vet called Wendy in Nithvalley surgery, Thornhill. Bella has no outward signs of the cancer as yet, and at her age may never show signs of it for it is hopefully a very slow growing (very very slow growing) one and dogs can cope with only 30% of liver function, so we are hopeful.
At the moment Bella is more like a puppy than a thirteen year old, so fingers are crossed, and the plan is to forget the cancer but to make sure her body is as healthy as possible, especially her liver.
She has raw food every evening with the other girls, and in the morning they all have either porridge/cottage cheese mixed in with sardines in tomato juice/ or scramble egg. Bella wouldn't eat the cottage cheese without the tomato juice, she knows what she wants and we obey, he he he!
We are also going to be putting her onto Turmeric as we did Alfie, and later (if she needs it) a product that has milk thistle and more in it to help her.
She has been a Gem of a dog, so whatever keeps her puppy like we will happily provide.
Heck, she doesn't even look old yet, let alone thirteen.
Happy New Year Everyone, I hope 2016 was a good year for you and that 2017 is a kind year for you, and a year where you share that Kindness towards your dogs for after all they are the animal that gives us such loyalty and work so hard for us that our kindness is the least we should give them.
Our Christmas was exactly what was needed, rest and more rest, good company, family and even a family wedding thrown in, and then more rest!
Jay was on rest for the run up to Christmas because of her leg, but Christmas day was her first walk and she thoroughly enjoyed, unlike the taking of the pic above that I loved and they hated, bless them. She also had gland problems ;) a trip to the vet and sudocream worked a treat on that!
For myself 2016 was a hard year, the hardship came in more than one form and the hardest was the lose of my brother to cancer, he had battled against it for over three years, leaving his wife and two young children behind. He went as well as one could of imagined his passing to be for him for he went after eating a Chinese take-away meal in his own bed, he had his wife on one side and his mother on the other, and he went fast but with just enough time to say and hear the words one would hope to say and hear before passing. He and I were the youngest of the family and not much age difference between us, so throughout or school ages he was there and we protected one another and teased one another as siblings do, both giving each other nicknames that would tease the other one.
On his passing the family took strength from the knowledge that Ashley was no longer in pain, it's the little ones that suffer though his children, and of course my mother and his wife. Sadly so many other families are effected by cancer, we have lost friends during late 2015 and late 2016 to this horrid disease and their families are dealing with their lose!
We (I) have also had to deal with some vile bullying on the internet once again in 2016, and even though the police have stepped in numerous times and have made it so the person cannot speak to me or come near me (fingers crossed), though he still continues talking/lying etc about me on the internet, sad person that they are! All because I signed a petition, because I know that one does not need to hit a dog to train it, at all. Sadly the person stalked me and found out that I have a live long medical condition so they see this as a weakness that they can prey on, in their sick mind.
240'000 of us signed a petition to make the RSPCA aware of that person.
So many of us can and have trained with kindness, to very high standards. We don't just train with kindness for 95% of the time and hit the dog for the other 5% of the time, we train with consistency/clarity/ Love/joy and kindness 100% of the time using our voices and body language and brain. We know for some people that they cannot get their minds around this, even though the techniques are very simple, and we know that sadly some people enjoy giving punishment and therefore need to believe it is impossible to train a dog without the use of punishment, but humans (most) are intelligent and caring enough to teach a dog without ever using physical punishment as a training method. People who use physical punishment often say things like.... 'I'm only showing/telling you how everyone else trains, it's just they are to PC to show you!'... that is wrong. You will see that the people who give physical punishment are also not being truthful about the punishment they give because even though they talk about physical punishment they do not often show it, and when they do show the physical correction it is a very tame version of the physical punishment that they give the animals when the tapes aren't rolling. We watched one clip last year that showed a women entering a cage with a food bowl for a dog, she states she has cured it's food aggression but does not show you how she has cured it, though to anyone watching that clip one can see how she has cured it for as she places the food down she flicks her empty hand at the dog and the dog flinches away, the dog flinches away more than likely because it had been hit previously by the trainer when the dog went to the food, and the dog would have more than likely been hit very hard to make sure the dog backed away in total fear and does not even think about moving forward to retaliate. If the trainers were being totally honest they would show the supposed food aggressive dog at the start of their training, and the person would film in real time their training of that dog not to be food aggressive so one could see the corrections used, for after all if they are showing you how to correct a food aggressive dog but do not show the methods that they use and the actual training of said dog how are you to learn the methods that they supposedly want to pass on? Up shot is, if someone cannot show their training methods in detail to you... Don't train with them.. move on to a good trainer for there are plenty out there if one does their research first.
Hopefully this quite nasty abuse I have been receiving from that person will soon be stopped once and for all, for Adults should behave far better and in a more decent manner on the internet or what hope do our children have from people like that.
Our home has been the joy in 2016, my safe place and my serendipity, and a place that enriches the soul on the lowest day which mean that annoying smile of mine is still on my face. Our walks (me and the girls) are in the garden so to speak for the fields are right there, wrapped around us bringing the wildlife in and yet because of it's 'slight secluded placement' keeping it peaceful and left alone from the world outside.
I so look forward to receiving family and friends here once again in 2017, give us a call you never know I might let you into my serendipity...if your as mad as I am for kindness, wildlife, dogs and joy!
I have seen some awful videos this weekend showing 'how to teach your dog to hunt in front of you' etc. ones that if you were to follow you would end up with your dog on shoot missing loads of game because you had let it hunt so widely. Some trainers/Handlers can't or maybe don't know how to quarter/hunt correctly, therefore grow to except and convince themselves that their dogs running here-there and everywhere is totally fine, therefore they miss bush after bush grass tuff after grass tuff, this method is then passed on to the new handler...Don't except it though , hunting is something your dog will already have in him or her through good breeding, hopefully, though some dogs need a little more help than others, so all you have to do is train your dog to work with you, together.
And honestly, done with love and common sense it is totally achievable.
Your aim is to have a dog that works in front of you covering each grass tuff, working the bushes and hedgerow in a pattern that will mean birds are not escaping behind you, not missing birds because your dog missed that area completely, or missing a rabbit that was sitting tight in a grass tuff because once again your dog had totally missed that tuff.
People will talk about back winding, where you dog will go further of in front of you because the wind is blowing at your back, and when doing this the dog may well pull a bit in front BUT it should then work thoroughly to you, BUT as one can imagine there is risk that the pheasant, sitting between you and your dog that is working back to you, will again just run straight passed you behind the line instead of being pushed up.
Jay-Jay when just over 1 years old
So the best movement is a flat sweeping figure eight, though there must be allowance in that flow as the main aim is to have a good thorough coverage of the ground. In fact, as long as your dog is working the ground thoroughly in that pattern, the width it is going out from you (ie left to right) to a degree doesn't matter, unless you are trialling. My Mia was trained totally for shoot, and therefore will work dog to dog, ie she will cover all the ground (side to side) that is not being worked by another dog, which means when one is short of dogs on the ground Mia will take more ground and when there are plenty of dogs Mia will take less ground. Jay was trained for both and will therefore only take a certain amount of ground in unless asked to take more.
No dog is perfect, neither are we humans, but if they miss so much ground, they will certainly miss game, so do not train to fail by following those
who train loosely, with practise and kindness it is totally achievable!
I wrote this piece below for the Video Clip section, but I thought I would share it here as well, well I do like to ramble, he he he!
The wonderful thing about a spaniel for working is,
when you have a spaniel by your side you need no other breed of dog next to you for they are the
Perfect All-rounder, and a super companion!
To work with a spaniel as a team, and to know that your teammate could be totally self employed and yet he choses to work with you, listening to you, well that is an experience that cannot be explained in words but is most certainly some form of Rush!
It is sheer bliss to have your dog working through the hedgerow and cover crop as if either were a row of cotton sheets hanging on washing lines blowing gently in the breeze on a wash day, and yet with the adrenalin of a toddler on Christmas morning buzzing through his body, and yet still he keeps one ear open in case you speak to him, an awareness to where you are in case you gesture something to him or change direction, for you and he have learnt over the years to read one another slightest movement, you have both learnt that when you work as a team Great fun is to be had, and What a Team you make!
It is not only your dog and yourself that are blessed by your partnership, but also the guns, and that matters that they benefit for on shoot you are all a circle and no one part is greater than the other, but without the Guns finances, that land those birds and even the beautiful wildlife that thrives in that environment, would not be there.
The Guns benefit greatly by a well trained dog, for you and your dog can work as a team pushing the birds out of the crop and into the air, like the flow of a stream that bubbles down its pathway flowing into all the little nooks and crannies exploring them on it's way creating little drop-off points for fish to rest. You and your dog need to flow through that cover crop/undergrowth at a pace that will give the pheasant ahead time to find the nook or cranny to rest, whereupon your dog will find it and flush it straight into the air... all this done at a pace that does not make the pheasant go into a frenzy and rush straight down through the cover crop to the end of it to fly in one all mighty crescendo with the other pheasants, or enable it to loop behind you. This flow gives the gun time to reload and aim with accuracy again and again and again, instead of that almighty crescendo that gives him no time to reload or aim with accuracy, for that makes a possible fabulous drive turn into a complete loss for the guns, and that is not what we want to happen.
There is always part of me that hopes the guns miss, but I am a meat eater, the pheasants live a free life and are supplemented through nasty weather by the game keepers/shoot, heck the humans even create places were the pheasants can shelter, and if we beaters and pickers-up do our job properly and the guns give the respect to the birds by not making stupid shots, then we have done ok!
And I suppose that is what Gamekeepers, Guns, Landowners, beaters, and Pickers-up all should aim for, and I would hope most do
To respect the animals, make their lives good and give a clean kill as possible, protecting and respecting the wildlife and countryside around. NOT beating our dogs (hitting/discipline whatever you call it to soften the sound of the act) in the name of training, killing birds of prey, or treating our woodlands as if there will be no next generation. That behaviour isn't for people who truly love nature or dogs or the environment. And if you love all three, well stop protecting those that do not with your continual silence for those people/acts are the ones that people outside the sport see and tar all of us with that same brush. Stand up for what was passed down to us, and what we should now be guardians off, for our forefathers understand the land and mother nature and respected it, machines' have enclosed us of from it to a degree, yet us who walk/work the land on foot tread the same path and should respect all of mother nature and her animals, let us either leave it as those forefathers would want or improve the land and the wildlife for the next generations.
I hope these videos help you, and shows you that dogs can be trained with Love and common sense and with no need or right to use physical violence!
When your dog is trained and ready to go on shoot with you, I hope you find a shoot with the same principals as I and many others have, and that many wonderful winter days follow from it!
This month I have been teaching Tinks Left & Right by movement and verbal command. This month I have also taught Jay-Jay the verbal command of 'Left' & 'Right' as previously she only had one verbal command for going right or left depending on which arm movement I made. As you can see they are doing well, and only with 3-4 short very lessons a week.
So I am very pleased with them, they have listened well and had fun.
To teach dogs Left and right by arm command gives the dog a greater chance of getting the retrieve, and we need that to enable a fast retrieve of any game we send the dog for, especially if you know where it lays but the dog does not.
If your dog just know the command 'Out' followed by just a throw of the hand and no clear Right or Left movement from you, you limit yourself and thereby you limit the dog, and you may have to give far more arm throws and 'Get Out' commands to get the dog into the same spot than a dog with a good straight Out-run and a sharp stop to the whistle with a then silent left or right arm command. Makes sense doesn't it, after all imagine yourself shouting 'Get out, Get out...' on shoot day when the dog has been sent for a blind and is only guided by throwing of the arms and your shouting at it that command, compare that to the far more silent option which has far more accuracy!
If your dog is in the wood and can't see you or in really deep cover, how handy would it be to be able to say 'Right' or 'Left' and your dog go right or left depending on the one you asked for.... very Handy.
Now I am Lucky in that Jay-Jay will do a Meerkat when she is unable to see me or when she needs to do it to mark the fall of the game, and she does it without moving forwards or backwards just upwards, which most Judges and trainers love as it shows brains for starters and an ability to mark game the sitting down dog (or if you beat it) the lying flat dog would not see, and therefore Jay will see the bird land and get to the fall. But, if your dog doesn't do the meerkat impersonation or cannot because of the environment it is in, well then that 'Left' or 'Right' command could come in very handy. Now it won't be needed all the time as your dog will often see many falls, or will see you (maybe you need to move a tad if you can to enable that), but there are those times it will be greatly useful.
The you tube clip below shows you Tinks and Jay-jay as they are taught these new commands by myself over this month of July.
To teach Tinks the Left & Right direction command via body and language, I broke it down for her and started by teaching her just the body Language when I sent her for a 'Back retrieve'.
This I did by sitting her directly in front of me at an angle that would make her want to go the way I wished her to, as you can see in the video it worked a treat.
You only need to sit the dog at an angle while the dog is starting to learn this new command. When teaching a dog something new one should always set the dog up in way that aids the dog, once taught it's a different matter .
Now both girls have been previously taught, to varying degrees, to run straight lines left and right by my making a clear and straight movement with either right or left arm and a vocal command 'Out', not a throw away arm movement that just sends the dog in a wide section to either side, but a clear signal for a straight line.
But now of course they are learning the vocal commands 'Left' or 'Right' and that is learnt through repetition. Of course as far as the dogs are concerned Left and right could be called 'Fish' & 'Chips', as long as you always use the same word for the same direction. Because they know the arm movement I can just put the new word with the move, and repetition will lock it into their memory bank.
I then add temptation by throwing a beloved ball over Tinks head to land behind her, then asking her to go either right or left for a dummy instead of going for her ball, and if she got it wrong, the most she would get is a verbal 'Ahhh', which seems really loud on the video but that was only because my mouth is very close to the mobile. Always remember to praise for the stops, the stops must be praised as you want the sits to be well and truly locked into their memory, and locked in through only good memories.
I am lucky enough to then be able to add another dog (Jay Jay) into the mix for Tinks, it helps Jay-jay to learn patience so its a win win, even more temptation to for them both, and when I think I can I ask them to cross one another for a retrieve I do, this asking really demanding high concentration of them.
The video is a mixture of mobile video and camera video so please forgive.
As always, no dog was Hit at any point, it isn't needed, whether you gloss it up by calling the hitting of ones dog 'Correction/redirecton' or any other name, it is Not Needed and shouldn't be done. Learn to teach a dog with kindness, as many of us do, OR don't teach, for no dog deserves it!