Training and everyday events.
Alfinmarsh Jays Justice, Alfinmarsh Andromeda and Ftch Deepfleet Jay's puppies
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!
The 'Ouch' is from two injections I had into the right foot to help with the aches and pains that come from inheriting flat and ten-to-two feet from my father, fingers crossed the steroids will work!
Yep, we popped along to the cuckmere river once again as 'hop-along' (me ) isn't allowed to walk to far at the moment, so an ideal place to work Jay Jay physically, helping to get her fit without having to walk to far for me. Though we cannot take her again tomorrow as boredom will set in.
Anyway, she was a little gem again.
After a warm up we threw the dummy over to the otherside of the cuckmere, Jay Jay went in, swam over, clambered up the 4ft flat banking helped by the reed bed etc, retrieved the dummy and jumped straight off the banking into the water. Everytime she does this she completely disappears under the water because the drop is so high, bless her.
Then Jay Jay and I walked down the river bank path whilst Gary laid a blind for me over the otherside of the bank. I sent her back, stopped her and asked for an out with my left hand, she went out as requested and jumped into the water swimming across to the otherside, got onto the bank and retrieved the dummy. We were very pleased with her, especially as dotted along the river path are bushes, one huge bush blocks my view after she has taken the out command which means I cannot help her after that point if she goes wrong, which she didn't.
We repeated this exercise once again, Gary putting the blind out whilst I walked away, except this time we did it in an area that had no visible pathway into the water for her and it was also a spot where she had never retrieved from before, but this time Gary placed the dummy in the water halfway across, success always being the main aim.
Then we upped the ante one more time by placing the dummy into the water but on the side that we were on. You may think this to be the easier retrieve seeing as the dummy is closer but not at all, this is a tricky one as the dog does not expect the dummy to be there and the dummy is harder to see as it is hugging the bank.
I sent her back down the path asking for a stop and then asking for an out, and then as soon as I heard a splash (bushes still blocking my view) I gave her the command steady. Gary said she started to look for the dummy but could not see it as the currant had taken it away from its original spot, so Jay babe got out of the water run down the river tight to the waterline, got a whiff of the dummy and jumped in and retrieved it.
I am certainly happy the girl used her common sense when she couldn't find the dummy and couldn't see me, she is a little gem, says a very biased owner :)
We finished with a nice easy simple retrieve and came home very happy with her and I was not to wet for a change.
We headed off to Wiltshire on saturday for the last trial of the season and what a cracking day it was.
It was the London Cocker field Trial that had been cancelled in October at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstance, they had managed to schedule it to be held at Hartham Park.
The grounds where superb, the birds sat well and everything was catered for, even down to a porcelain toilet, sheer bliss!
We cannot thank everyone who had taken part in organising that day enough, the judges were very supportive, guns were faultless and the stewards where so kind as was all in the gallery.
Our first run was STONKING. She hunted well, flushed, stood to mark the fall and sat waiting for the command :))
I sent her as soon as the judge said too, and she went off like a greyhound as Jay Jay does. Someone shouted runner, so judge said to me, 'runner, run', and we did run, round the corner in time to see her pick the bird gently up and then run back to me at full pelt :))
Everyone was sooo kind as I walked back to gallery, saying kind things to us about Jay Jay and her run :)
By the second time though she was so hyped and I was so busy watching where I put my feet because of my knee as we worked through a tricky area that she got further away then one would like, blew it really :(
But we still came away with a Certificate of Merit and I came away like a grinning idiot thinking about the first run and all the kind things people had said. Judges gave us excellent feed back and advise :))
A perfect end to a season we nearly missed out on. We cannot wait to trial her next season with a summer of training under her belt.
Well yesterday was the end of this shooting season for us at the
Hundred Acre shoot
which is quite sad that the shooting season is over but it does mean we will now have time to work on Jay Jay and start the puppies training.
They really are a cracking bunch of people at Hundred Acre shoot :)
With the guns being such Gents, the beaters/pickers up being such a lovely bunch of people to spend time with and the shoot captain who throughout the year puts the hard work in and then he has to cope with what must be the even harder work, which is to deal with guns and beaters during the season.
Yes some dogs can drive you slightly mad when they run forward of the beating line But as the saying goes
'There but for the grace of God go I'
And as long as I get to work on the wonderful mixed crops that the shoot captain has put in and the dense brambles that my Mia loves, It is all worth it
I took Mia and Jay Jay and worked them as a brace through the cover crop, which we had all to ourselves.
Watching my girls pattern out in front of me, tight, flat and finding all the game that is in there is just
THE MOST WONDERFUL FEELING'
I so wish we had filmed it :(
Gary was beating the hedge so watched it all and he was soo proud of the girls, and it takes a lot to please Gary as he is such a perfectionist :)
He also said (as long as Mia could not see me) when he worked her on a couple of the drives, that she worked well for him, which says to me that I must get Ellie trained up for him as I can't lose my Mia to him, he he he
Jay Jay has lost her ability to stop cleanly and sharply to flush, but we will reclaim that over the summer. She has just got carried away, as all dogs who have there first full season do, in the sense that she now knows what it is all about and therefore needs reminding that we are a team at all times even when the excitement gets to her, bless her.
Still I can't help being proud of her as she had hardly any training during the summer and then 10 weeks out before the start of the season with my knee so none then either. So yes, whilst I know she can do a lot better, I am proud that she has coped so well when we have given her so little in training to prepare her for this past season.
We are extremely pleased of our Mia who has had no training during the run up to the shooting season with her having a litter during the summer and again MY Knee problem.
Yet she was wonderful on shoot, gives us great hope for Jay Jay as Mia went through the same stage at 2 that Jay Jay is now going through.
Mia worked hard, fast, and covered all ground well on the shoot and when asked to find game that the picker ups could not get to, our Mia came through with shinning colours, so love that girl.
We took the girls on shoot yesterday and to add to a good day one of the puppy owners came along with their 18 month old Alfinmarsh Forrest.
He will be joining the shoot now and his wife will be joining with her cocker, which is great as it means we will have the added joy of having another Alfinmarsh on shoot.
Thoroughly enjoyed the shoot working the girls together, especially in my favourite areas which is the mixed cover crops and the dense coarse bushes.
Though what I wrote in the previous up-date, that I was worried that temptation may start to pull Jay Jay forward with so many of the other shoot dogs working forward, DID happen. My angel Jay Jay who has for a long time now hasn't been herself pulled forward whilst working and talk about deaf ear, bless her.
Most of the time though it was a Joy to work the girls.
I worked a small mixed cover crop strip with a chap who had brought his lab on shoot for the first time, therefore was on lead. Gary was with Mia... in the woods on the side of crop.
If it had been a trial, the first half of the cover crop the judge would have said about Jay Jay 'Lovely, lovely dog' she needed no whistle worked beautifully and put a couple of birds up stopping at each one :)
Second half of the cover crop the judge would have tapped me on my shoulder and said 'sorry Miss but can you regain your dog and leave' he he he :)) Mama Mia joined me 2/3rds in and the girls worked the crop together beautifully :))
All in all, mama Mia = fab :) Jay Jay = some good sections some really naughty, naughtiest she has ever been.
Leconfield Field Trial on the 9th
What a cracking bunch of people there was at the trial, Gary and I chatted, caught up and had a giggle while we waited for our run which was not for a while seeing as we were number 15th to run.
After the shoot day we knew that whilst Jay Jay looked stunning most of the time she worked, that she was/is going through a teenage stage but little did we expect her to do what she did.
As soon as we started our run Jay Jay hit onto scent, I thought 'yes' we could have a good run here, FAMOUS LAST WORDS. Within minutes she flushed a pheasant out of the brambles, sat as the gun shoot at the bird, the gun missed the bird but it flew low and landed quickly in the brambles. Jay babe, bless her presumed it had been shoot and without waiting for my command ran in to retrieve it. Yep, that was the end of the trial for us and poor Gary was in pure shock as he said 'she has never done that before'! Well she has now Gary he he he
Well, lets do a catch up before we look into what will hopefully be a cracking 2012 for us all with our families and dogs.
We went to our regular shoot on boxing day and as normal for this season Jay-Jay came with us but this time so did Mia. We felt Mia deserved to come with us as she is the one who has less walks at the moment with my knee as it is, yet not once has she been a nuisance through boredom. She has not been on shoot as we did not deem her fit enough especially as what exercise she has had has been freedom walks, no training, we need not have worried. David Lisett once said of our Mia, 'She was a dog that he could shoot over all day' and as always he was sooo right.
Gary started off working her but she is so use to me working her that I started to work the pair of them when beating through the wood. It was made easier by the fact that when in woodland Jay Jay can be trusted to keep a nice and tight pattern whilst Mia can be trusted to range, bless her, though range maybe a slight understatement this time :)
Thankfully Mia does not range forward, she just covers more of the beat line, which to be honest I like as we have quite a few dogs on shoot that hunt forward and back rather than side to side, which means they will miss game which our girls will find. Jay-Jay found and flushed a hen bird from under a log that other dogs had just run over, though the little toe rag moved 2-3 paces on it. This forward running does mean however that a lot of the birds that Mia and Jay-Jay would come across are flushed before they even get there by other dogs.
That is something we will have to review as whilst with Mia being an experienced girl on shoot and therefore can take what must be disappointing for them, working when they know dogs are forward of them and therefore flushing birds that Jay Jay and Mia would want to,
Jay Jay is not as experienced as her mum and therefore could be tempted into running forward. She has not been tempted so far but it is very much a possibility with young dogs.
Our Little jay jay did make one mistake, an easy one for a young one, she pegged a hen bird that was so far in a dense bush that it could not move any further. Jay Jay went in to flush but upon finding it could not move brought it out to me, it was totally unharmed, though Jay Jay had more thorns and scrapes from that one bush than the whole day :)
Mia,as always excelled in the thick cover, she will go into the most nastiest of bushes without any hesitation. We are hoping it will rub off on Jay Jay as Jay is totally willing to go into thick cover if she can smell something in there but doesn't want to enter if there is no smell, which could be because of the barb wire injury she acquired last season.
Mia worked particularly hard in a very nasty strip, 200ft-50ft, looking for a hen bird that a young gun had shoot and a cock bird that an older man had shot. The cock bird had the gun and picker up in disagreement as the gun said he had definitely shoot it and the picking up chap said that the gun had missed it, going onto say that he had even seen it land and happily run on. Well shoot etiquette is to never leave a bird that may be damaged, quite rightly so, therefore we felt we had to make sure the cock bird was not there meaning instead of just working 1/6 of the strip for the hen bird, Mia had to work the whole strip.
She worked it wonderfully, knowingly covering all of the patch and of course out she popped with the hen bird but not the cock bird.
We are lucky on our shoot as guns and beaters all mix together and the Guns are a particularly nice bunch of men and women as our the beaters and pickers up. Sadly this one gun was not feeling the joy of the day, I wonder could it be because the younger boy had more than likely out shoot him and the picker up had been prove right he he he
I was so pleased that Gary was there though as boy can our Mia pull on the lead when on shoot, daft thing walks nicely by my side off shoot though, he he he
Well, we have a lot to look forward to with the dogs, starting with the training of the pups when this darn knee allows it.
We so need to get cracking on that otherwise we will just have two pet dogs in the house, which is totally fine but with so much potential I would rather i did train them especially as I know it would add to their enjoyment.
Then we will have Mia's litter to look forward too (fingers crossed), her last one ever so we may leave that until winter time, we shall see.
We will hopefully have the time this year to give our Jay Jay the experience she needs to move on in her trialling, injury to her and I getting in the way for this season. We have sadly not been lucky in the draws either for the trials, with up to 50 people entering a trial and only 16 needed, the chances of being pulled out of the hat are getting slimmer so we may not get another run this season. Fingers are crossed that we at least get to run in the London cocker trial at the end of the month as it will have many friends there of ours therefore a day we will not want to miss even if we do not get a run, though fingers crossed we will..
Finally may we take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful and enjoyable 2012 for you and your dogs
Well Jay babe and I nearly hit the same mountain we hit when I did my second working tests.
We went into our first field trial with confidence and Jay & I did well. I then got verbally knocked by a person with 'green eyed monster syndrome' just before I took part in our 2nd Field Trial, which is exactly what happened to me before our second working test, and once again I let it effect me as I did at the working test :(
I had convinced myself this time that I didn't let it effect me but on reflection I know I did.
Jay Jay has not been right for over a week, nearly 2 weeks now and so we gave her a break after tuesdays trial. She and I had not performed at the trial anywhere near to the standard that the little girl can, even though we still came away with a Certificate of Merit, once again.
Took her out yesterday and within 2 minutes, ok maybe 3mins, she did what she hasn't done since the working test period which was to come running straight back to me on direction work and she did it again and again and again.
So I kicked myself up the backside as I know she does this from a combination of a pinch of naughtiness, a huge dash of lack of confidence in her handler and big dash of those bloody vibes I must oooooze when I am in doubt of my ability to guide her through new experiences.
So, plan of action, I couldn't get strong with her, never do anyway, I just had to be firm yet praising, ask for perfection without intimidating her and most of all, not kill her or me he he he :)
We stayed out there for a while, BUT, Jay Jay & I come home with a grin on our face. We had worked through it and she was once again doing exactly what I asked of her without her running back to me.
Now I am fingers crossed that she does not do it again today when I take her out
BUT, she and I didn't fall apart so badly either yesterday or at the field trial as we did at the working test so that is a positive.
As they say
'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'
so you could say these people are doing me a favour as I am learning (still learning) not to allow them to effect me :))
A friend that bullies us is not a friend and the only way to deal with bullies is to show strength.
We have been lucky enough to get permission to Train Jay Jay on a shoot just a few miles from us. The old syndicate on there had fallen apart and so we popped along and got permission of the land owner.
We haven't found much game there but we have found some :) and there is some wonderful areas for her to train on as you can see from the footage.
We were on shoot yesterday and we consider ourselves very lucky with the shoot we go to as it has wonderful people and a shoot captain/land owner that works his socks off to achieve a good shoot day for all. Even the beaters have a mode of transport to carry them whenever possible between drives.
This year there is some beautiful mixed cover crops which held the birds well and I cannot wait to work Jay Jay through them. Plenty of birds where put in front of the guns and with the wind on the day the flew well.
We all gather together for the normal drinks before we start the day and then half way through we have more drinks, hot soup and hot dogs :) Then we all get treated to a pub lunch, and yes you guessed it, another drink :) Guns and Beaters together.
There is also a great array of dogs from the captains German Short haired Pointers to a King Charles Caviler that goes through the bushes with sheer joy and determination in his heart, named after 'Father Ted'. he is a joy to watch :)
Whilst I am very grateful to our shoot captain allowing me to be on the picking up line I cannot wait to once again be back on the beating line, though I think the old knee needs another fortnight before that happens :(
It is such a total joy to have Jay Jay working away in front of me but until then the picking up line is a good lesson in patience for Jay Jay and a way for me to be on shoot but to not do much damage to the knee.
We are so blessed to have our dogs and the pleasure that working them brings.
One of the shoot captains Germans
Gary & Jay Jay The wonderful Ted with his charming owner
Well we headed off to Dorset at 6'00, Tinky and Ellie in the back with big sister Jay Jay as we couldn't leave them home all day.
We arrived on time so was able to get the pups and Jay Jay out for a quick toilet and stretch before the field secretary called us together to brief us all and introduce the land owners, judges and guns.
We was number one on the cards so after a walk up to mixed crop field, we were off and running .
It was a dense crop but she worked it well, though who forgot to put on her waterproofs and who is so short that she got saturated up to the knees? you guessed it, it was I.
She did a Meerkat impression to mark the fall of the bird and marked it well, straight there even though the dense of the crop meant we could not see her or it. With first run done I was a happy relaxed bunnie
Second run was in the woods and sadly I got a bare patch of wood that didn't hold anything and a short run as time was moving fast on the day. Did however get to retrieve a bird on the other runs side.
She took a wonderful line and was working towards it when a misunderstanding between the judge and gun meant she was stopped, once they had sorted things out I was able to send her and the sweetie that she is was not put off by all the misunderstanding, took the line and went straight there.
Our first trial was done and we were all happy.
Jay Jay got awarded a Merit and the guns who get to award a dog they think to be the best dog of the trial, told me afterward that they had placed Jay Jay in 2nd place. I was very pleased :)
She has only had one weeks worth of training in 9 weeks, what a little gem.
One of the professional guys came up to us and said 'well done', left me like a grinning idiot. Also told by one of the professional that the trial would be the hardest novice trial we would ever do, that trial being particular hard work for all the dogs.
I think apart from myself and one other person, the other competitors were all known and very well known trialers, but we were certainly put at ease by them.
We meet some cracking people and that was our second time we had meet with the Dorset Working spaniel club and both times I was made to feel relaxed.
Cannot thank the club, Judges, guns and Landowners enough for giving us such a
Headed of to Hamptworth on friday the 4th for a session with Nick Gregory, and as always we had a cracking session, Nick being a saint.
The four hour round trip to Hamptwoth to spend time with Nick was so worth while + the knee whilst feeling weak and abused held up, though it is really upset now :(
He said during the lesson that Jay jay patterns out really well and is very good at marking.
I was especially pleased with her because of the time off she has had. She now has it all there and if she makes a mistake it's because I have done something wrong.
That was something Nick said, and he is quite right.
Bless her heart she does us proud.
I was hoping this week to be training Jay Jay everyday but at the moment I seem to only be able to work Jay jay every other day, if I am lucky, because of the knee.
I have managed to trainning Tinks a few times as well over the past week, just little sessions, not enough though.
Tinks and Ellie can be the 'WILD CHILD'S' at the Christmas Gathering :) Which we are really looking forward to seeing so many of you again :)
Really annoying that I cannot give all the dogs a training session everyday, especially as I hoped by now that I would be able to do so, but I'm pushing the knee as it is so I will just have to do what I can.