Oct 7, 2011, 3:53 PM EDT
The time has begun to train Versus Country Raider for an advanced title. The rules of the game don’t just change when your dog advances to this level; they are rewritten.
To obtain a Senior Hunting title Raider will have to run some very technical drills. One of the first I begin training is the Landmark Drill with a Blind Retrieve. At the actual titling event you walk out of a blind with your dog and it has to stay right at your side and walk with you until the first bird is thrown. That will come from the left side and that is your first bird which we call the memory bird. When that bird gets launched you can tell the dog to sit.
As soon as the first bird hits the ground another bird gets launched, which we call the Live Flyer, because this bird does get launched, flies and then gets shot. As soon as that bird hits the ground the judge who is with you will allow you to release the dog to pick up the marked birds. If you release your dog before the judge tells you it’s okay, you’re disqualified.
What the judge initially wants to see as you take your place to run this drill is a dog that heels and is steady, that sits there without fidgeting or whining.
The third aspect of this drill is the blind retrieve that is right between the two birds that were launched. This is a bird that has been placed that the dog did not see launched. So you can see there are some challenges to this drill.
Not only do you have the multiple birds that require the dog to be at its peak, but the competitions also throw other factors into the mix. They will factor in a ditch before the dog gets to the birds so the dog comes out of a low spot in the ground to a different sight picture. There will be water in some of the retrieves to confuse the dog. Wind can be a factor since the dog is using his nose to pinpoint the marks. There are a lot of reasons a dog might have some trouble getting through this Senior Level title drill. Yet some dogs operate at higher levels. These dogs are the ones that have a great memory and when they come out of that ditch they still remember where those birds dropped. These are the dogs that have trained so hard and so well that when they are turned loose on that blind retrieve where they have never seen the bird drop, they don’t veer towards the birds that they did see go down. They know that there is another bird out there that they didn’t see because that is what the setup and command instructed.
In the next column I will discuss technique to train for this high level of competition.
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