A couple shots (scattered throughout) from a recent training session in the bird field. Our main goal as of late has been to work on her being steady beyond the shot. I am training for Master Hunt in that she must be totally steady to wing shot and fall. She has already been able to do it in the yard, but live birds are proving more of a challenge (as well they should for such a prey/movement driven girl). But slowly I feel she is making the connection. I now can trust her a whole lot more when it comes to simply being steady on the bird until flushed, she has gone after 1 pigeon since I started her back in the field a while ago. And as training goes that was a good opportunity to remind her she is not allowed to do that anymore (some would say never, but I felt it was important for her as a puppy). So on our home turf she has shown a lot of progress, but training on new turf the other day seemed to be a wake up call about how much more work we need to do.
Luna is a smart girl, often too smart, and I would even say stubborn about certain things. But she is a vizsla after all so I must also keep that in mind while training her as well. First dog, then breed, then name. That’s how I largely deal with every dog I set out to train, the breed characteristics are not to give excuses to behavior but insight into how to work with them more efficiently. I would like to think that I know my dog best, that may not mean I know how to train her best in all things, but training is always evolving as we continue to learn more about dogs. Sometimes it is hard sorting through the numerous methods/styles of training out there and those offering their opinions on the matter. But overall, I feel like in everything else (training wise) I have done rather well with her (and have others who have said the same), so I would like to think this hunt business will sort itself out in the end too.
Some may see that collar around her waist and think it cruel and unnecessary, but I know my dog, and I know the foundation I have set with her in relation to that collar is balanced and works with her personality. If she minded it so terribly much (as some would like you to think) why does she get all excited when I pull it out and start it up? Same excitement I see if I’m grabbing my purse or my cap gun. She knows it means fun stuff is coming. I must trust that my method of introduction was the method she needed as a dog, vizsla and then Luna. Nothing is really causing me to say all this, I just wanted it to be said. That collar is also largely there for that 5% of the time that her brain might go back into the (not so far) recesses and dig out the hunting/chase instincts that could cause her to dash across a road or wired fence in pursuit of game. I don’t need to use it often when it is on her, just like if it is off I don’t need it to make her mind overall. Alright, getting off my soap box.
Moving on, yesterday we joined a group of friends who were getting together to train their hunting dogs. Luna ran last and was run with a nice GSP named “Tampa.” It was her first time hunting off the farm for a while, and it was the first time she has hunted with another dog since she completed her Junior Hunter title (back in Jan 09?). We largely wanted to run her with another to introduce one of the next phases of her training: Honoring. She must eventually honor not only another dog’s point/find, but also honor the other dog through the completion of a retrieve. Well I can safely say she is not a natural backer (honorer?). She pretty much ignored Tampa on point and didn’t stop till she had found the bird on her own. I guess slightly to be expected, but also shows we need to strongly work on that area before hunt test time (at least we have objectives now). As far as honoring the other dog through the retrieve I can tell now that will take a bit of time. She was not happy in the least that someone else was going to go get that bird. We did in the end throw the bird and fire so that she could get a retrieve in too. But she carried on pretty bad while Tampa was retrieving. But I have no doubt she can work through this. She has done similar things in the yard while we worked with the bumper launcher (which she gets totally bonkers about). Just takes time, hopefully not too much, but that’s up to her.
But saturday was not a complete loss. Everyone else did really well overall, fun was had by all the dogs. And Luna was really fired up. I would have to say a lot of what I fought on saturday was her drive. She was ready-to-go. And to be honest I can’t complain about that. It is wonderful to see her so fired up over birds, I can honestly say that her drive has improved since we began this more advanced training, which was something I was hoping for. Her hunt ethic/pattern was great, she worked hard for her birds, and her nose did great too (shocker) . And she had a lot of intensity in her points too. So it was a good day, we were both happy to be off the farm, and working somewhere else. I will have to try and make this more of a regular thing to help finish up training. Like I said she is smart and I think she has learned the business of the bird field here. I always say to clients: dogs can’t generalize well. If you want them to behave at all doors you must teach them at lots of doors. If you want them to be steady overall in fields, you must get them out to new fields to reinforce this idea. One thing I think she understands well, probably due to all the homer pigeon work we’ve done, is to heal (or in the field I just use “with me”) away from the bird and get on hunting others. She seemed to understand that right away and was more than happy to move on to other birds. That pretty much concludes the hunt update for now. No pictures from saturday as I was the only photographer. I plan to post some on my photo blog though.
Hope everyone has had a good weekend. We checked out a new place with the 4-leggers today and they enjoyed it greatly. More to come on that later (as always).