Jun 14, 2012, 2:02 PM EDT
By Jerry Sather
A well-socialized, trained dog isn’t tricky. It’s honest. It wants to please. When it encounters a situation in which it’s unsure of what the handler wants, it calls upon its mental Rolodex of experiences to try to remember something similar, then reacts based upon that experience. But if there’s nothing similar that can be a problem. That’s why we train – to build make that Rolodex as expansive as possible.
Use an actual hunt test as an example. Though we strive for realism in training, there is no way to duplicate every aspect of a hunt test or field trial outside of the events themselves. You can’t train on the exact location on the exact day. You can’t precisely anticipate what the judges will set for the test. You can’t assemble the size of the gallery or duplicate the other distractions of the event day. So even though you’ve been training your dog for steadiness through daily training sessions and drills, there’s still a high probability something about the situation is going to create different stimulus than the dog has ever encountered before.
And then there’s the test itself. Let’s say there’s an honor. But “honor” is a very generic term. Have you trained for a cold honor? Have you trained for a remote honor? Have you trained for an honor where you must sit in a chair, on a bucket or in a blind while the dog watches everything that’s going on? Have you trained your dog to honor from your left and from your right as well as in front of you? What about while you’re in the holding blind and the dog is out in front of you? Have you trained to honor thrown dead birds and well as fliers? Single pops versus multiple shots? The list is almost endless.
The best way to achieve success is to create a constant among all the scenarios, in this case, a constant in all honors. That constant gives the dog something to which it can flash back in trying to figure out what it’s supposed to do. So say you never send for a bird from the dog the “down” position– ever. Wouldn’t it give the dog an advantage in knowing that when you say “down” it’s not going to be moving until you say heel and walk back from the line? Hmmm….
But you have to remember creating this kind of constant has repercussions on the dog’s entire life. If you’re a waterfowl hunter who hunts lay out blinds in fields, you’ve probably trained the dog to retrieve from the “down” position. So suddenly trying to create this constant for events will do nothing but create confusion for that dog. You always have to look at the big picture of the dog’s life experience and stay a step ahead.
Sometimes you can use something new to your, and the dog’s, advantage.
A friend of mine had a dog that was nearly completed with her master title, but hadn’t reached this point until her later years. There’s been countless hours of training and nearly as many hunting trips leading up to this point. The dog had developed a mental block about releasing birds brought back to the line. It looked like it might prevent her from earning her title.
Then the day before a test my friend was building fence and pretty seriously injured his left hand. It required a bunch of stitches and a big wrap of bandages – nearly a cast – but he didn’t think much of it.
Next day at the test, he went to the test and took his dog to the line. The birds were thrown and the dog went out to pick up the flier first as she was supposed to. This freshly killed bird was always the worst for the dog to drop cleanly. But this time, she brought it back to the line and my buddy dropped his bandaged hand to take the bird from her mouth.
Having not been introduced to the bandage before, the dog had no idea what this new thing was. She looked at it and opened her mouth in what seemed like amazement, dropping the bird softly into his hand. She picked up and delivered all of the rest of the birds that day the same way and earned an orange ribbon – and an AKC MasterTitle.
Sometimes, we learn tricks of the trade, by accident!
Jun 19, 2013, 9:02 AM EDT
The pulse is elevated just a touch. The eyes seem to focus just a bit more sharply. There is pent up excitement and anticipation waiting to surge…
Jun 18, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
Trail cameras help to identify and manage wildlife properly; what other uses do they have?
Jun 14, 2013, 7:31 PM EDT
I still think about my dad and miss him — every day. I weigh the big and small decisions in my life against the measure … “Will this make Pa proud?”
Jun 11, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
We westerners have a soft heart for those in need, but fail to recognize corruption capitalizing on our compassion. How do we shed light on the truth?
Jun 4, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
The leopards were there, but the stars failed to align for Huntress Livy in her pursuit of Mr. Spots.
May 31, 2013, 1:01 AM EDT
The real “game” here is that these rabid anti-hunting groups recognizeoutlawing traditional ammunition would be a major step toward stopping most hunting.
May 28, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
What is the most important thing you do to obtain a perfectly steady position when shooting a rifle?
May 21, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
Having the ability to envision the vital organs can mean the difference between success and failure on a hunt. Huntress Livy explores options on how one might improve this skill.
May 17, 2013, 1:01 AM EDT
The firearm safety videos teach students how to react if they should encounter a firearm in an unsupervised situation. The conservation titles educate students on how wildlife and wild lands are protected
May 15, 2013, 1:01 AM EDT
So many times I’ve tried to go in and read just one or two old favorite stories, but ended up in the potato chip dilemma – you can not read just one.
May 14, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
With an upcoming leopard hunt, Huntress Livy prepares one of the most important tools a hunter can have -her daypack! Should she add anything?
May 8, 2013, 1:01 AM EDT
Hank’s food doesn’t just fill you up — it makes you happy and makes your life richer. He shares recipes and cooking techniques on his blog every week that are simply the best stuff out there.
May 7, 2013, 1:00 AM EDT
Finally, the US Fish & Wildlife have announced their intentions to end the protection of wolves in the Lower 48!
More Top Posts
- None found
- PBT: Heat rally to beat Spurs, tie series in epic Game 6
- PBT: After blowing lead, can Spurs rebound in Game 7?
- PBT: Allen gives Heat exactly what they expected
- Underseeded? Nadal draws No. 5 at Wimbledon
- PST: Altidore lifts USA over Honduras in World Cup qualifying
- PFT: Patriots' Hernandez questioned in murder investigation
- HBT: Mets' Wheeler goes six scoreless in MLB debut