Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
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|"You can see how things build on themselves with this system. All along we have been using a check cord to correct retrieving issues and enforcing the "hup" and "here" commands. Now we are just adding one more item to the training process, the "hup poles". At first the young dog might try to run away, but he has nowhere to go. The pulley system allows you to work on and enforce "remote hup" and "here" commands in the yard. Call him to you and hit the whistle ("here" then "hup"), repeat this over and over, until he reliably "hups" in the yard."|
"Is it at this point that you test without the "hup poles"?"
"Once he seems to be reliable in the yard on the "hup poles", I will test him by hitting the "hup" whistle as I am leaving him as we walk back to the kennel. If he does not "hup" immediately and tries to come toward me, I would pick him up and put him back where he was when I gave him the command. I don’t punish him."
"Once they seem to prove themselves and respond to "hup" on the way back to the kennel, I would take the dummies back out during the next session and go back to the yard. This time I will disconnect the rope so it’s only wrapped around one pole. Again, I position myself in front of the dog while I hold the other end of the rope in one hand and toss the dummy over my shoulder. The key here is that I am between the dog and the dummy. By holding onto the rope tightly, I will be able to prevent the dog from breaking as I throw the dummy. Once the dummy hits the ground I give the dog a release command and let go of the rope so he can make the retrieve. Then set up again and continue until you don’t need the rope around the pole to prevent the dog from breaking."
"Once the dog has the idea that he needs to sit before being sent for the retrieve while on the "hup poles" with me blocking his path, I take him off the "hup poles" and slap a check cord on him. I start by positioning the dog by my side and throw a dummy in front of him. I have the other end of the check cord in my hand in case he attempts to break I could quickly correct him before sending him for the retrieve. This increases the temptation for the dog to break, while teaching him that even though there is nothing blocking him, he has to wait to be sent."
"Do you allow slack in the rope when you’re doing this or is the rope taunt?"
"I make sure I allow some slack in the rope so the dog has the choice whether or not he is going to break. If the rope is taunt, he will inevitably keep his butt on the ground. We are looking to see if the steadying concept is sinking in or not. If the rope is slack and the dog remains sitting until released, I can feel fairly comfortable that he understands the concept."
"Should you vary the interval of time between the amount of time you throw the dummy and when you send the dog?"
"When you first start teaching the concept, you do not need to be concerned with changing the cadence of your release command. Your goal should be on teaching him to wait for you to send him before making the retrieve. Once he understands that he needs to wait to make the retrieve, start to change the timing. Otherwise, he will start to anticipate your release command and leave a bit early. By constantly mixing it up, he will get the idea that he has to wait for the release command before making the retrieve. If you start to see him waiting for say the count of 3 then leaving, its time to mix it up and send him on a count of 5 instead. Make sure you are always changing the count before sending him; otherwise he will start leaving early."
"Next issue, we will talk about introducing your spaniel to birds in the steadying process and we will talk about the transition to the field. Until then, have fun!"
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