I’d like to thank my blog followers for providing me information that I normally wouldn’t come across, such the recent ban on e-collars in Quebec. They say that forewarned is forearmed, so brace yourself for activists here in the United States following the lead of other countries in the growing ban on e-collars.
However it turns out that Quebec isn’t the first to ban e-collars. As reported in SpinoneUS, Wales banned their use in 2010. The alternative offered is positive reinforcement, which although admirable, has its limitations because it does not allow boundaries to be set and is useful only as long as the dog wants the reward. The people who abuse e-collars would also abuse through other means such as hitting or kicking their dog.
Admittedly, I’ve seen and heard of e-collar abuses and that was the primary reason it took me so long to buy into their use. After having been trained on their proper use, I occasionally use them in training only when necessary, which for me is very seldom. When I do use them, it’s primarily for the safety of my dog and the only times I’ve really nicked my dogs is for their safety. But lawmakers and activists who propose their ban are ignorant of their proper use as I was, but I believe the ban is more ideological than rational, and these people are not interested in learning about their proper use.
Many if not most e-collars today have a “tone” setting that beeps rather than “shocks”. I have found that low settings on my e-collar cause a painless vibration sensation rather than a shocking sensation, and those are the settings I use. How do I know this? The truth is, I tried the collar out on myself before using it on the dogs. Yes, I placed the e-collar to my throat and went through most of the settings so that I would know how much stimulation was being applied to the dogs.
So an attempt to ban e-collars is undoubtedly on its way. If you don’t want to see them eliminated as a training tool, now may be the time to head it off before the movement gains momentum.
Much to the delight of the Spinone, today marked the first day of spring training. I spent a couple of hours with Doc, Mia and Elvis, and although the temperature reached a balmy 40 degrees (f), the 20 mile per hour wind made it challenging. In spite of the wind, the guys did a great job and hadn’t lost a step during their 2-month layoff.
I think that Doc is an incredibly photogenic pointer, here on his first bird.
A nice view of doc on point with his first bird.
Doc pointing his first bird of the day. My homemade bird release is visible at the edge of the picture.
Doc pointing his first bird of the day after a 2-month layoff.
Doc’s second hit his point on the second bird from about 50 feet.
Doc on point with his second bird.
Doc on an intense point – I can only guess that a Pheasant had recently been there.
Mia stands tall on point.
Mia stands tall on point with her first bird.
Mia on her second bird.
Mia on point with her second bird.
Elvis is a nonchalant pointer but his strength is in tracking.
Elvis on point, but his real strength is in tracking.
Every trainer who has seen Elvis has complemented him on the way he runs the field. I’ve occasionally considered getting him into tracking.
Elvis on point with his second bird.
If you’re like me, there’s a couple of months of downtime between the end of hunting season and the beginning of training, so I thought I’d share a few tidbits of wisdom and experiences on the subject. Although I kind of enjoy the layoff, the dogs don’t view it in the same way and become restless after a week or two of inactivity; our window blinds are beginning to show the effects of them standing up on the window sills to look search the pasture for birds. Nearly ten months out of the year they’re either training or hunting, and idleness isn’t something they enjoy.
We keep them somewhat in shape with workouts on the treadmill and they’re happy to do it for a treat. There’s training through the game of tug-of-war, which might come in handy if they need to steal a bird (or portion thereof) from another hunter or dog so that we don’t come home empty-handed. Playing catch in the living room is also very good training for those times when I can’t hit a bird and the only way to bring one home is for them to snag it out of the air
But maybe more beneficial are the sporadic sessions of obedience training, in which I give commands and they obediently do whatever they want. Actually, they do well with their obedience and I’ve worked with them from time to time on the “stay” and “heel” commands, pack style. Indoors it’s generally “heel” since there’s no room to do much else without knocking over the furniture. Now back when Doc was a pup, I turned him into a waterfowl dog by giving him dead ducks to fetch and carry around the house, even though they were often as big as he. However on that subject, I haven’t pushed the envelope but am sure that tracking, fetching and casting indoors using bird wings, would be frowned upon.
I want to thank one of my blog followers for sending me the following links regarding tail docking. The first link is to a study conducted by researchers at the Glasgow University, and the second is an article that appeared in Sporting Gun.
Looks like the study we have been waiting for may have come out:
An article on tail docking you might be interested in: http://www.sportinggun.co.uk/shootinganswers/542283/Why_the_law_on_docking_tails_needs_to_change.html
We got our first significant snowfall on Friday which was only about 6 inches, but significant compared to the 1- and 2- inch snowfalls we’ve been getting. The dogs enjoyed it maybe a little too much. In addition to running and rolling in it, they couldn’t make up their minds whether to stay in or out and subsequently tracked snow throughout the house.
Practicing the “stay” command, pack style.
The only solution was a run in the pasture. Our neighbor’s pup who is more often than not a nuisance, joined them and between the pack and I, we kept him in line. We feel a little sorry for him since the only real social interaction or affection he receives is from us, and at the young age of 6 months, has already been hit by cars three times; the last required a tail amputation so he looks more like a Rottweiler than the Chessie cross that he is.
But they all had a good time running through the snow. Not to waste an opportunity, I spent a minute or two working on the “stay” command pack-style. Doc, Mia and Elvis all worked the ditch for Pheasants but came up empty. In the end, it was just what they needed and they thankfully spent the rest of the morning sleeping.
Elvis and me at my sister’s retirement party, while visiting the VA care center.
We put in a full day of therapy work today and the guys did a great job even though the snow and cold weather has them, to put it mildly, “highly invigorated”. Sophie was hopping and woofing like a pup and Elvis did his best to take me into every room we passed. Since I added the Veterans Administration (VA) care center to our list of monthly visits, it’s become an all-day event.
We visit three facilities each month and it’s more work than I want one dog to do, so I take one dog on morning visits and the other on afternoon visits. Today was Sophie’s turn for morning visits and the residents seemed to crave her company and were happy to just stroke her head and back if not to visit. Following today’s visit, it’s clear that I need to brush up on my Spanish.
It was Elvis’ turn to visit the VA care center today and as it turned out, they were throwing my sister a retirement party. As for the residents, I don’t know the history or day-to-day struggles but following our visit, I was told that Elvis had a great impact on some of them. He brought those who needed it most, out of their shells and they really opened up with him.