Doc’s training photos 8-5-17

setters, spaniels, and Spinoni

Working with Doc on a check cord. His only weakness is breaking on birds that flush wild and surprise him.

The Irish Setter on a check cord

Doc on point while working with one of the spaniels on honoring

Doc on point while the spaniel honors

Chris working with the Brittany/Springer cross

One of the Brittany Spaniels on point

Doc retrieving a pigeon. All of my dogs naturally have soft mouths and retrieve birds uninjured.

A multi-breed training session

Everyone gets a pre-training run

Everyone gets a pre-training run

Drahthaars, an English Setter, English Pointer, Labs, and my Spinone made up the collection of dogs involved in Saturday morning’s training session. It was the first session of the year with my trainer and I was interested in seeing how Doc and Mia did, particularly with honoring.

Working on a Drahthaar pup's steadiness.

Working on a Drahthaar pup’s steadiness.

We let the dogs out for a 10-minute run to take the edge off their energy level prior to training, then began the session with a Drahthaar pup. The pup did a very nice job for the amount of time he’s been training and I videoed the session to be sent to the pup’s owner.

Mia on point

Mia on point

We worked Mia next, bracing her with an English Setter. She was very steady on both point and honor, and was rewarded with a retrieve. Upon sending Mia out for the retrieve, the bird took off flying with Mia on it’s tail. A couple hundred yards later she ran it down and made a very nice retrieve.

Mia on point with a setter pup honoring

Mia on point with a setter pup honoring

Mia retrieving a pigeon after a long chase

Mia retrieving a pigeon after a long chase

Mia honoring the setter pup

Mia honoring the setter pup

A Chocolate Lab pup was worked next on his whistle-sit command and was rewarded with a couple of retrieves.

Working with a Chocolate Lab on the whistle-sit command

Working with a Chocolate Lab on the whistle-sit command

Next we braced Doc with an experienced English Pointer but after an extensive hunt, neither dog was able to find the planted pigeon. We hate losing a carded bird but there was no finding it, and we assume that it must have flown off, perhaps into a nearby wheat field.

Doc on point with a Drahthaar pup honoring

Doc on point with a Drahthaar pup honoring

After the pointer, we braced Doc with another Drahthaar pup and both dogs did a nice job of pointing and honoring. After working with them, we sent Doc out on a blind retrieve. Perhaps it was our earlier work on honoring, but Doc only brought the bird part of the way back before dropping it. He seemed confused about retrieving it so I walked with him towards the bird; he then ran to it and retrieved to hand.

Doc honoring the Drahthaar's retrieve

Doc honoring the Drahthaar’s retrieve

Doc and Drahthaar pup on point

Doc and Drahthaar pup on point

For his second bird, Doc did a very nice job of pointing and was rewarded with the retrieve. This time when I sent him out, Doc chased the bird down and made a very nice retrieve.

Doc retrieving a pigeon

Doc retrieving a pigeon

In all, I was very pleased with both Doc and Mia, who were both very steady on both pointing and honoring. The only real issue was that they need a lot more aerobic conditioning.

Bota bags are perfect for watering dogs

Bota bags are perfect for watering dogs

After returning home, I took Elvis to the snowmobile races, but that’s another story.

Bird on a wire

Doc and Mia on point as soon as I let them out to train

Doc and Mia on point as soon as I let them out to train

I continued with my short training sessions with a return to honoring.

Doc seems to be asking, "now what?"

Doc seems to be asking, “now what?”

I had already released my pigeons for the day so there were only a couple left in the bird loft with which to train.

Doc on point while training

Doc on point while training

The majority of birds were sitting on the power line above the back gate and both Doc and Mia went on point the minute I let them out.

Mia honoring while training

Mia honoring while training

Doc went on point with the first bird and Mia did a nice job of honoring. After that I planted another bird and this time it was Mia who went on point with Doc honoring.

Mia honoring Doc on point

Mia honoring Doc on point

Doc honors Mia

Doc honors Mia

Doc cools off in the ditch after training

Doc cools off in the ditch after training

Putting it together

Diagram of Mia and Doc's training, 6-21-15

Diagram of Mia and Doc’s training, 6-21-15

Bill Tarrant wrote about the value of short, 5-10 minute training sessions, and it seems to be paying off for Doc and Mia. I take them out in the pasture several times a week for a short training session on blind retrieves, and can see a marked improvement in their casting, searching, and taking a line.

Mia is steady in the blind

Mia is steady in the blind

This weekend they put it all together when I added my duck blind to the equation. More than just wanting to see them make blind retrieves, I wanted to see how long and hard they’d search for the bumper yet still be rewarded with finding it.

Mia searching for bumper during blind retrieve drills

Mia searching for bumper during blind retrieve drills

Mia retrieves the first of three bumpers during blind retriever drills

Mia retrieves the first of three bumpers during blind retriever drills

I worked with Mia and Doc individually, heeling each of them to the blind where I gave the “stay” command while, out of sight, I set three bumpers. After setting the bumpers, I waited an additional five minutes to test their steadiness in the blind. Since I didn’t know how they’d react to this new setup, I only set the bumpers out about 20 yards.

Mia retrieves the second bumper during blind retriever drills

Mia retrieves the second bumper during blind retriever drills

Mia retrieves the third bumper after a long search

Mia retrieves the third bumper after a long search

I limited my casting to keeping them in the general area of the bumper rather than trying to cast them directly to the bumper. Mia took a straight line to the first two bumpers but the third was a real challenge. However after about 10 minutes of searching, she came into the scent cone and made a nice retrieve.

Doc remains steady in the blind

Doc remains steady in the blind

Doc searching for a bumper during blind retrieve drills

Doc searching for a bumper during blind retrieve drills

Doc’s setup was essentially the same as Mia’s and he had no trouble with taking a straight line to the bumpers. I would have preferred him to search harder for the bumpers but was impressed with his ability to find them in such short order.

Doc makes a blind retrieve with bumper 1

Doc makes a blind retrieve with bumper 1

Doc with blind retrieve 2

Doc with blind retrieve 2

Since Doc and Mia had the privilege of training, I let Elvis, Sophie and Dakota run in the pasture for a bit.

Doc makes his third blind retrieve

Doc makes his third blind retrieve

In the tall grass

Our pasture has been mostly under water for the past month, but with all the rain we’ve been getting, the water’s been shut off. It’s been good for the grass which is now about 2 feet tall and provides a lot of cover in which to train the guys.

Mia and Doc on point, both in the bird's scent cone

Mia and Doc on point, both in the bird’s scent cone

I decided to formalize their training a little and began some obedience, heeling Doc and Mia until we reached the pasture where I released them to hunt.

Doc and Mia on point, the tall grass adds another variable to their training

Doc and Mia on point, the tall grass adds another variable to their training

Mia went on point about 50 feet from where I’d planted the pigeon. Doc came into the scent cone a few seconds later and went on point as well; both remained perfectly steady when I flushed the bird.

Doc and Mia on point in the tall grass

Doc and Mia on point in the tall grass

I changed things up a little with the second bird. Rather than releasing them when I entered the pasture, I heeled them to the opposite end before releasing them to hunt. This time Doc established point and Mia did a nice job of honoring.

Doc on a solid point

Doc on a solid point

The pigeon only flew about 30 feet when I released it and Doc began running after it but stopped and remained steady when “Whoa’d” him. I flushed the bird again, and this time it flew back by Mia where it landed. Both Mia and Doc remained perfectly steady in spite of the temptation the bird gave them.

Doc pointing the bird launcher with Mia honoring

Doc pointing the bird launcher with Mia honoring

I flushed the bird once again and this time it flew over the fence and into the ditch. I wanted to work on searching, so I called them off the bird and had them hunt the pasture for another 15 minutes or so. While letting them hunt the pasture, I moved the bird launcher to another location for Elvis.

Mia honoring Doc

Mia honoring Doc

After a few minutes Doc went on a solid point with Mia honoring. At first I thought that the pigeon had flown back into the pasture but after searching through the grass, I discovered that doc was pointing the bird launcher.

Mia honoring Doc with the second bird of the morning

Mia honoring Doc with the second bird of the morning

I let the guys satisfy themselves that there wasn’t a bird in the launcher, then called them over to search for the pigeon. The fence presented an obstacle when I cast them; but Mia “thought outside the fence line”, crawled under it and then into the ditch she went.

Mia and Doc remain steady as the bird lands near Mia

Mia and Doc remain steady as the bird lands near Mia

I don’t know why the pigeon decided not to flush but it didn’t which was a fatal mistake that provided Mia a nice retrieve.

Doc escorts Mia, retrieving the pigeon

Doc escorts Mia, retrieving the pigeon

After working with Doc and Mia, I planted another bird for Elvis which gave him the opportunity to find and point his own bird. Unlike my last training session in which I questioned whether or not anything was accomplished, this session went much smoother for me and the guys were solid throughout.

Elvis on point after being "whoa'd"

Elvis on point after being “whoa’d”

Interference

Dad taught me to get your work done before you play and Saturday that meant mowing the lawn and filling a gopher hole in the ditch. After that, it was afternoon training with Doc and Mia. However it was one of those training sessions that kinda left me wondering what we accomplished.

Elvis, Doc, Mia and Sophie enjoy the flooded pasture, 4-24-15.

Elvis, Doc, Mia and Sophie enjoy the flooded pasture, 4-24-15.

Thanks to a full stream of water for the past couple of weeks, our pasture has become somewhat of a temporary marshland attracting ducks. When several dropped in this afternoon, I sent Doc and Mia out after them. Mia established point about 150 feet from the ducks before Doc caught their scent and went on point. He must have had retrieving on his mind because when one of the ducks flew to the other end of the pasture and landed, Doc broke and went after it.

Dakota races through the water, 4-25-15.

Dakota races through the water, 4-25-15.

After letting everyone run in the pasture for a bit, I planted a couple of carded pigeons and put two more in my bag to test Doc and Mia’s steadiness. With Mia on point and Doc honoring, I moved a ways behind Mia and then threw a pigeon past her. The bird buzzed her and she took a couple of steps to chase before stopping and returning on point. I did the same with Doc and remained on a rock solid honor, even though the bird flew about 20 feet landing between him and Mia.

Mia on point with Doc honoring, 4-25-15.

Mia on point with Doc honoring, 4-25-15.

Doc honors Mia with a pigeon between them.

Doc honors Mia with a pigeon between them.

I looked for and couldn’t find the carded bird that Mia was point so I gave the “track” command. It turns out that both carded birds had moved and were about 150 feet upwind. After tracking, both Doc and Mia went on point, but were pointing different birds.

Doc and Mia point two different pigeons while training, 4-25-15.

Doc and Mia point two different pigeons while training, 4-25-15.

Doc and Mia point different birds while training, 4-25-15.

Doc and Mia point different birds while training, 4-25-15.

I flushed Doc’s bird and sent him to retrieve. While Doc and Mia do well honoring bumper retrieves, they are, shall we say, less than honorable when it comes to honoring live birds retrieves. In any case, Doc made a nice retrieve.

Doc on point while training, 4-25-15.

Doc on point while training, 4-25-15.

I then flushed Mia’s bird which flew through the fence and halfway across the neighbor’s alfalfa field. I sent her on a long retrieve but the pigeon flushed before she reached it and the neighbor’s Malamute got it. Doc and Mia converged on the Malamute with bird, who dropped it on his owner’s command, and Mia retrieved it, but it was a confusing and not a clean retrieve.

Doc retrieves a pigeon while training, 4-25-15.

Doc retrieves a pigeon while training, 4-25-15.

After visiting with the neighbor and letting the dogs do some running and socializing, I planted the dead bird and sent Mia who made a nice retrieve.

Mia retrieves a pigeon while training, 4-25-15.

Mia retrieves a pigeon while training, 4-25-15.

Back to pointing

Doc and Mia returned to training on honoring and I worked with Elvis on his steadiness, but I’ll let the pictures do the storytelling.

 

Doc honors Mia with their first bird of the training session.

Doc honors Mia with their first bird of the training session.

Doc honors Mia with the first bird of their training session

Doc honors Mia with the first bird of their training session

Mia and Doc remain steady-to-wing as the pigeon flies away

Mia and Doc remain steady-to-wing as the pigeon flies away

Doc honors Mia on the second bird  of their training session

Doc honors Mia on the second bird of their training session

Mia honoring Doc on their last bird of the day

Mia honoring Doc on their last bird of the day

Mia honoring Doc

Mia honoring Doc

Mia honoring Doc on their third bird of the day

Mia honoring Doc on their third bird of the day

Elvis on point with his second bird

Elvis on point with his second bird

Elvis beaks on his first bird.

Elvis beaks on his first bird.