November has been a bit of a wash out regarding doing any constructive training as I have been so busy project managing the move to the new training venue and doing jobs there every spare minute. Erik has been learning how to chill in an outdoor environment whilst I am doing things that don’t involve dogs. He has been struggling a bit, as previously I have given him a ball to occupy himself and would throw it every now and again. I can’t do this now as Ragnar gets too possessive if left for long periods with a toy. So both dogs are learning to potter and just hang out and wait whilst I am busy.
I have been doing basic training out on walks with the two dogs together but this is not ideal and I want to get back to doing more work with both dogs as soon as I can.
The photo shoot went well and Erik managed to sit and hold the lead in the right place to get a good cover shot. He also worked really well for me during the whole shoot most of which was outside. Very pleased with him considering how little work we have managed to get in at the moment.
Now I have moved into the new training venue I am starting to be able to do some more training with the dogs – hurrah 🙂
I have started with working one dog in the crate and one dog out. This is a challenge for Erik as I am currently working on training a clicker retrieve with Ragnar which is Erik’s favourite thing to do so he is struggling to watch quietly at the moment. A small amount of whining but he goes quiet if covered and can then stay quiet for increasing amounts of time once the cover is raised.
Being at the new venue is a bit more exciting than the old place and so Erik’s general arousal during training is higher at the moment. Even working on heelwork is a bit difficult at the moment as he hasn’t managed to completely switch off from the toys in their new location yet.
Yesterday I worked on going through crate games with Erik in preparation for being able to work both dogs with the crate door open and being able to swap dogs without having to go back to the crate. He has a good strong send to the crate which I will continue to improve on by proofing distractions on the floor, etc.
Happy New Year to all of you reading this. We have reached Jan 2019 in good shape.
I am starting to get back to doing more training and have had a lesson with Geoff Shore with Erik. He walked really well on his lead to the area that we were going to hunt and then hunted really nicely. Geoff was using a starter pistol and a combination of dummies and cold game (pigeons) as retrieve articles. Erik stopped well to shot without needing a whistle, he was also steady to all the thrown retrieves. I was really pleased with him as although he made a bit of noise occasionally, he generally worked very well. Seens, blinds and memories all carried out in a business-like manner. It was lovely to go out and just have some fun with him and put him through his paces. I came away having realised that he is actually quite a competent working dog. Added to that he is a really fun dog to work, always keen to get involved in any training that I want to do. Sometimes I forget this when I am focused on trying to desqueak him I can forget all of his other talents!!
I have been working this month on getting Erik to be happier picking up pheasants. We have had several sessions with cold game, firstly in a stocking and then gradually rolling it back to expose more feathers and last session Erik managed 3 retrieves with a bird with no stocking, all to hand, and all released with no mouthing and no plucking. 😊 He has really struggled to understand how to pick up a pheasant and I think this is why he was struggling to let go and why he would start to shred them, he was just very frustrated. Now we have been able to practice it a structured way he is getting more confident in how to pick it up.
Really chuffed about this as it means that when we use cold game to reward stop to the flush, we can just use a bird with no stocking.
I have also been looking at how to make heelwork more fun for Erik. Food isn’t a high enough value reinforcer for Erik to put out the effort required to manage himself in a working heelwork situation. As we are working toward Grade 5 of the Gundog Club tests, I need to find a way to help him to want to walk to heel when another dog is hunting and there is shot and retrieves. Big ask!!!
So, I have been setting up an exercise with dummies out on the ground and if he is doing a good job with his heelwork he is released to go and retrieve a dummy. This seems to be helping. I have also been working with a helper so that when he is doing a good job, they fire a shot and throw a dummy as a reward so that he can go and retrieve. It is a work in progress but now that he understands the game, he is getting quieter and less frustrated and is managing reasonable heelwork.
I have started once a month to meet up with some friends so that I am training with others again. We will see how Erik copes with this. First time was good with not much noise apart from when I asked him to do heelwork, and that was not too horrendous compared with how it used to be!
Picture by Farlap Photography