So how do you do this, help your dog teach itself? As I have mentioned in most of my training articles I have been moving more and more towards shaping techniques for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because they work and work well. The technique is easy to employ, sometimes a bit of forethought is needed - in particular if you are used to doing things the old way. The dog becomes much more predictable sooner, and becomes even easier to "train" because of it. Brad Higgins allows 'the bird to do the training', but really he guides the dog through some scenarios where the dog teaches itself what to do, we just happen to help set the stage, and provide the right reinforcement(s) at the right time to help set the behavior in the dog's mind. Here is a nice video by Stonnie Dennis which help illustrate what I am trying to say (his videos from this period are his most informative):
Sadly this is the first year that we played and didn't make the finals. I suppose a little humble pie is good for us all from time to time. Apparently we had become too accustomed to bringing home one of the coveted jugs of pickles or one of the other lesser prizes. That being said, I am very proud of how Powder ran this morning. She worked the field expertly and handled like a pro. The conditions were tough, many people came in with no birds or only one. Usually the finals are determined by the fastest time, today only those who got their two birds to hand within the ten minute time limit moved onto the final. Powder did have her second bird, but the horn sounded as I moved into position... Disappointing to say the least. We let little Ila tag along and she had a field day romping around as you may have expected.
We usually send this by email sometime late in October to our clients for the next year. Yes, we know, it's nearly a year before a new Two Gun pup will cross the threshold into your home. Which means, right now is a great time to start looking into different training options and methods, as there is little pressure. You can read, ask questions, seek out advice, find a local trainer: observe training sessions, etc. and really see what is going to work for you. Making these kinds of decisions once you have the puppy is a whole lot like attempting to fix an airplane while it is in flight...generally not advisable.
Since I regularly get requests for books I like, I figure it's time to give the list a place on the blog.
So here it is, I have dusted off the Recommended Reading list yet once again and getting it published in time for the holidays - so you have time to add one or more to your wish list and see what Santa has to say and see if anything makes it to your stocking.
What do these books have in common? Generally speaking, they are in tune with modern canine behavioral science vs. the old school ways I was taught when I was a young man which were quite barbaric by today's standards. They relied on force and were much less effective. So without further adieu:
The Puppy Primer, by Patricia B. McConnell
- for that matter any Patricia B. McConnell book on training/dog behavior
How to raise a puppy you can live with, by Clarice Rutherford
How to help gun dogs train themselves, taking advantage of early conditioned learning, by Joan Baily. **(this is a favorite)**
Dog Sense, by John Bradshaw
The Genius of Dogs, by Brian Hare
Bird Dog, the Instinctive Training Method, by Ben O. Williams
The Drentsche Patrijshond for the North American Fancier, by B. P. O'Connor
Since we have you here in the mindset to learn and read. Here is some reading we believe will also be worth your time and why we build our guarantee around a spay/neuter in early adulthood, if you feel compelled to do it. In short, the early spay/neuter is being strongly implicated/tied to joint irregularities, tendon injury, and even increased the risk of many cancers, please take some time to review these scientific articles:
Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete
Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers
There are also some great training resources on YouTube:
HigginsGunDogs: Brad's methods emphasize a dog's natural cooperation. He uses his experience and background in training falcons on pointing dogs. We will train 1-on-1 with Brad later this year and we are very excited!
StandingStoneKennnels: This young couple has some really nice videos, and some I'm not so in love with. They use a blend of different training methods and they cover a wide range of dog and puppy topics.
Stonnie Dennis: A client recently turned me on to Stonnie. He uses a gentile technique and is a talented handler. The downside, now I have been accused of being long winded but really can't hold a candle... If you have patience and time his videos can be highly informative.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Fifty some years later this is what you get.