Happy New year to everyone.
I took Ragnar on his first full day’s shoot on the 6th Jan. He was really well behaved, he even walked nicely on the lead!!! He worked well and most of the birds we had either a stop or a return to me. A couple of sneaky run ons but definitely heading in the right direction. He waited well off lead during pauses in the beating lines and between drives, and travelled well in the beating wagon. There was some lovely cover crop to work through and he stayed in a good pattern and stopped on a whistle after flush. His batteries had definitely run out by the last drive and he just pottered for the last half of a long drive through heavy cover. Overall a brilliant day and I thoroughly enjoyed the day with him, so nice to work a quiet dog!!! He was quiet even when on a lead at the flushing points and lots of birds were going up very close to us.
Unfortunately, Ragnar seems to have over done it a little bit and tweaked something, so back to the physio to see how things are!
So, Ragnar has strained his Hip flexor muscle and so we are on stretches and pottering exercise for the next week. We are allowed to do quiet training thought which is good as we can continue to work on Ragnar’s delivery.
In the lesson that we had with Gwen, we worked on continuing to proof Ragnar’s hold and sit still, which he finds very challenging! We were adding in IYC with a food distraction. If he could continue to hold the toy whilst I had an open hand with food available near to his nose, then he was clicked. He is learning to release on the click and then take the delivered food slowly. If he dropped the toy before the click then the hand was closed over the food.
I was struggling not to always click at the same point and was suffering from tired brain syndrome! Trying to learn something new and coordinate everything with a tired brain, not so good. Poor Ragnar, it is no wonder he struggles to make progress when I am not really helping him!!!
Great News, I entered Ragnar for his Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate on Game assessment and he passed which was brilliant. He worked really well, hunting very nicely and either turning away from the birds on flush or stopping on the whistle. He even managed to wait nicely while the bird that had been shot was retrieved and the guns were ready to go again. However, it was a big disappointment that he started to whine whilst he was waiting to start work. The assessor was happy with him as he was quiet whilst he was working but mentioned that it was something that needed to be addressed if I wanted to compete with him. Of all the days to start!!!
I was hoping that the noise whilst waiting was a one off but, when I took him beating again on the following Monday, he managed to sing for the whole time we were in the beaters wagon. So, I have had a good think about how to move forward. I didn’t go on the last day beating so that he wouldn’t have any more chances to practice singing. Strategies that I will be working through over the coming year: –
With Ragnar I am pretty sure that the reason for the singing is anticipation of work. He is very easy to pattern and then he starts to anticipate cues and behaviours. I will also continue to work on mixing things up and working on waiting to be told when to go etc.
The good news is that he was mostly quiet when the beating line stopped for any reason so not all bad!!!
I have also started to get back to working on the pick up and hold behaviour. We are now at 5 seconds with a food distraction and me touching or holding the end of the article, with him sitting on a placeboard.
I have also added in a short straight-line retrieve and he had managed to combine the pickup, step onto the placeboard, sit and hold for duration.
I have now started to work with Ragnar sitting in front of me not on a placeboard and holding with duration. He finds this a bit trickier so I will have to work on fading the placeboard soon. I made sure that I only changed one thing at a time so adding in movement with the placeboard still there and only worked on the stationary hold with no placeboard.
Ragnar is showing good understanding now of hold on until he hears the click and then let go when he hears the click. The stillness and not mouthing is also progressing well.
I brought some pheasants home from the shoot and so I worked on trying to introduce Ragnar to picking up cold game. He is not very sure but he did manage a couple of reasonable pickups.
I need to work on teaching his retrieve on larger, heavier items before I go back to cold game. Even though the bird was in some tights to keep the feathers and wings together and make it easy to pick up he seemed reluctant to open his mouth wide enough to pick it up properly.
So overall a very interesting season with many high points and showing that Ragnar is starting to mature and understand his job, but also plenty of things to train over the coming months. 😊