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.
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.
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.
A Chocolate Lab pup was worked next on his whistle-sit command and was rewarded with a couple of retrieves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After returning home, I took Elvis to the snowmobile races, but that’s another story.
I continued with my short training sessions with a return to honoring.
I had already released my pigeons for the day so there were only a couple left in the bird loft with which to train.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
Since Doc and Mia had the privilege of training, I let Elvis, Sophie and Dakota run in the pasture for a bit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.