I recently sent a Standing Stone Kennels YouTube channel video link to my current list of clients. In general, Ethan and Kat do a nice job of video production, and demonstrate effective methods of training. Just as important, their method would easily work on any Drent. Low stress conditioning equals more fun, which in turn generates more positive responses. Once a dog knows what the command is you can begin to apply consequences for non-compliance. As the dog improves, the consequences for non-compliance can be increased, but only if done with care and full knowledge that the dog clearly knew what it was supposed to do and chose to not do it. Their video for teaching a recall is a nice example of this, see below, and if you take the time to review the video, they do a nice job of only rewarding and acknowledging the pup’s correct behaviors to their desired action and more or less ignoring sloppiness and/or when she gets it wrong. This is a critical step in the development in a young pup! It teaches them to learn, explore, and to look to you – their boss – for leadership. The dog must want to look to you for leadership and guidance, otherwise you are likely in for a difficult time. This Old School "yard work" applied with modern training principles and techniques is your start to building the all important relationship of trust and respect with your pup.
Do I use a clicker like Ethan and Kat? No, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it. When you are rewarding or correcting your dog you have 1/3 of a second to get that done in order to have the best chance for the dog to associate the reward/correction with the action. Using a clicker can help you to get the timing of reinforcing a “good job” within that small window of time. It can also be easier for the dog to discriminate as a positive stroke, in particular, if you are very conversational with your dog. Clicker use has a few down sides, and for me, remembering to have one with me is generally the one that gets me. There are lots of great resources out there, and if you are thinking to use a clicker in your training efforts, now is the time to start learning and practicing the technique – it does take some learning, but it may be well worth the investment of your time.
In the field I use a whistle. I love it and find the whistle to be a valuable and powerful tool. I dislike hollering a dog’s name anywhere, and in the field isn’t any different. Plus, it is very likely that conditions will seriously limit how far your voice carries. A whistle will save your vocal cords, keep you from looking like a raving lunatic, and generally the tweet of a whistle will carry further in more conditions than your voice ever will. The only trick is to not be the person who is constantly bleating their whistle like a maniac, like I said it is a powerful tool, and so it must be used with judgement. So, when to start with the whistle? We will begin tweeting a whistle at feeding time shortly after the pup’s ears have opened. They will soon associate that glorious tweet with meal time and this with a little reinforcement from you, will help cement this foundational Pavlovian conditioning as something as strong and irresistible as the Siren’s song is to a sailor.
Breeding Powder to a Dutch dog in the Netherlands was always the plan. However, for her first litter I chickened out. The commitment level for that litter was extremely high, but still much less than traveling internationally. It has been said, traveling to Europe for breeding is not a trivial matter. Despite this being my fifteenth occasion of flying a pet internationally, this was another level for a couple of reasons.
Months in advance I registered the stud I was approved to use with the AKC Foundation Stock Service and ordered the required DNA kit, then carefully setting all of this paperwork aside to be packed later. Naturally, Powder flew with me in-cabin as my Service Dog, which required a few extra forms to be completed by my veterinarian for the airline; this was easy, but a step to be taken never the less. Then we waited for Mother Nature to do her job. Once things got started, we scheduled her first progesterone test and all of the appointments to get her veterinary paperwork in order: State health certificate, European Union/USDA paperwork, official rabies certificate and of course full vaccination summary.
Purchasing plane tickets before it’s “go time” is pure folly and this occasion was no different. Powder pulled Tule into heat six weeks early, and Tule slowed Powder down by two weeks. The results of Powder’s progesterone tests confirm what we knew to be true. Ovulation will be right at her day fifteen and I had a few days to buy tickets, execute the veterinary paperwork, get a reservation at a B&B, hire a car, and so on. Flying a pet internationally is quite involved on its own accord, but now with a time sensitivity and no room for error.
Checking in was quite simple with all of Powder’s paperwork in order, with no small thanks to Jenna for this! Getting Powder through Security was an interesting process, and she endured her first TSA “pat down” with aplomb. With a Service Dog you train to pass the Assistance Dogs International (ADI) Public Access Test, amongst other oddities you expect your dog to encounter in addition to the actual service they provide for you. Still here in Spokane there just aren’t many places with escalators, crazy tram cars, giant voices and so on – so you just never quite know until you do. But you do hope the things you have worked on were close enough and that those training events would effectively generalize for the dog. Powder was a champ! She handled the crush of people, the whirring of service carts zipping by, riding escalators and tram cars, rotating doors, and crazy voices like a seasoned pro.
Discerning a real Service Dog from a “service dog” can generally be accomplished by observing the handler and how the dog carries itself. For example, if the dog is being carried or in a cart (there may be a couple of exceptions here), not on a leash or some form of bridging handle (the leash is used to protect the dog), the dog is pulling on the leash (although it should be like the leash isn’t needed), the dog may be barking and/or whining (unless it is prompting their boss to do something), it is sniffing everything (dogs are going to sniff, but a dog without a focus on his boss will have his mind elsewhere), having potty accidents (speaks for itself), stealing food (or snatching stuff off the ground – it’s all about self-control and focus), seeking attention (be focused on the job at hand), looking nervous or being aggressive (they should be alert but not reactive). The absolute Number One sign is, the owner probably has a cleverly designed identification card from one of at least twenty different companies easily found on the internet – those are all just scams, each and every one of them.
In the U.S. there is no formally recognized certification for Service Dogs. The ADI is the standard we are moving towards, and it is likely there will be a codified certification process and licensing process in the near future. But fake Service Dogs are illegal. The dog should be required due to a disability (you can’t legally ask) and the dog has to be specifically trained to mitigate a disability (you can ask the animals purpose e.g. Medial Alert). Powder’s vest has a pair of pockets, and inside one is the documentation which covers my disabilities in a Privacy Act compliant way. A service dog’s training is always in the works and being finetuned. The flight process from check-in to ground transport was Powder’s biggest “on duty” shift times two. She really did an impressive job of staying focused and she surprised her fellow passengers as well as the aircrews based off of the comments we got from everyone before, during and after both flights. I am very proud of her.
Bastiaan and Sandra den Haan are the owners of Joeri, the handsome stud used for this litter, and they were amazingly helpful in addition to being incredibly kind, friendly and generous hosts! Sandra made a delightful Dutch specialty for dinner one evening, white asparagus with all of the traditional fixings – oh, buddy that is good living right there! She also helped nail down a dog friendly B&B for Powder and me. As it turns out “De Wijnberg” is owned and operated by a fellow Drent enthusiast Inez de Baar-Le Grand. Sadly, despite several invitations, I didn’t get to go walking with Inez, but I was able to enjoy the lovely surroundings of the Hazerwoude-Dorp area. During the short and quickly paced visit, Joeri made three successful covers, and the two dogs got along like peas and carrots as I had hoped. Joeri is handsome to behold, a real gentleman and a really sweet boy. He is a Drent I could add to my own household without a second thought. It was a real pleasure to make his acquaintance. Moreover, it was fantastic making new friends with Bas & Sandra. I can’t thank them enough for opening their home to me and being so accommodating and helpful.
Now we wait…
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.