Who knew I left it there? Well, Erik, a Dutch Ex-Pat, got to have his first upland hunt today at Miller Ranch hunting over Team Double Dutch, Powder and Fowler. We put ten birds in the field, and found all ten - one did get lucky and make an escape. The dogs worked together pointing, honoring one another, and retrieving like champs as we have come to expect, despite the cold and wet conditions. As people who know me know, my shooting is Amazing (Amazingly bad, or Amazingly good) and today I got to wear my shooting mojo like Hugh Hefner wore his silk PJ's. Erik managed to punch birds out of the sky like a boss as well. Unless you were a pheasant in field #2 it was a good day.
Just so we are all on the same sheet of music, I found the classic graphic I believe most "pointer people" can agree on to define the various "levels" of steadiness.. The further to the right, the "higher" the level of steadiness.
In the world of pointing dogs this can be quite the debate. In Real World hunting situations, with all of the people I have hunted with and all the different dogs I have had the opportunity to hunt over I have heard a lot of things, mostly yelling, cussing, copious whistle bleating and even witnessed a tantrum or two over dog performance for one thing or another. The one thing I never heard a peep over is a guy complaining his dog was too steady.. Let that soak in for a quick minute. Hell, I'm guilty of this. Please allow me to digress...it is my blog after all...In fact my first real bird dog from puppy is Paxson. I thought knew a lot about dog training already, read a half dozen books on Bird Dog training - man I got this, I thought. I was living in New Mexico at the time, and The Poof was about eighteen months old. He spent his first year and change living in Amstenrade, The Netherlands and had only seen a few pheasant and Grey Partridge when I took him out for walks in the South Limburger countryside.... Back to New Mexico. It was a banner year for Scaled quail, the coveys out on the mesa where epic - hundreds of birds, just in a single covey! It didn't take long and Paxson began to point naturally, doing an amazing job really. People have paid more to trainers and got less - just saying and since I thought I knew so much I allowed Paxson to be hunted with my dear friend's yellow Lab, Drake. I love Jim, and I really thought the world of Drake, but he was no pointing dog! True to type, he'd blaze on in and the quail would fly. Soon this became a competition for Paxson and the behavior I have never been able to rein in. I learned I couldn't hunt him with another dog and so Paxson, despite being an amazing bird dog, has never had his talents showcased to anyone wanting to run their own dog during the same hunt.
Overall, the birds are down. In fact the past several years have seen a steady decline. Each year a step down from the year before. This year was supposed to be a good year, the monsoon rains were on time, and in good quantity, reality is, they were spotty. Still, some reports allege a violent mid-Sept storm decimated the young bird population... I can confirm the spotty monsoon reports, the rain was absolutely right in a handful of areas, and those ares where a tremendous amount of fun to hunt. Overall we had some nice dog work which made the whole trip well worth the time, energy and effort. Meanwhile, just to the North, Arizona wine country continues to deliver pleasant surprises: Like newcomer: Deep Sky vineyard, and places I've made threats to visit for years only to just now make the visit happen Rune Wines made for some nice tasting opportunities. While tried and true stalwarts Callaghan Wines, and Dos Cabezas delivered to expectation. Good times.
It is no secret, the birds have been slow this season. However, if you aren't faint of heart, willing to do some serious research and hard hiking there are a few pockets in this rough country holding nice quantities of birds. We shared one of these finds with our trusted friend the other day. Naturally, he was blindfolded, dizzied, and the batteries to his GPS were confiscated. I mean we don't trust anyone that much ;-) In areas like this, you can always wish for easier and/or better shooting but only a crazy person could have asked more more birds, or better work from the dogs. #DoubleDutch #PowderPower #FowlerTheDrent
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in dogs can be caused by a range of things, from serious illnesses such as cancer or other underlying health disorders. But more commonly, the condition can be induced by fasting a dog or in this case hunting. Hunting requires a lot from a dog. I have written about the mileages recorded by the GPS collars worn by my dogs being upwards of 36 miles in a single day. Most upland birds do not live in conditions which mirror pan flat parking lots. They do live in some incredibly rugged country. Can you imagine running a marathon in Hell’s Canyon? Not running the shore line, but up and down while busting through thickets of dense brush repeatedly the whole day. Working dogs are extreme athletes with incredible energy demands! Because of this exercise induced Hypoglycemia is something we need to be aware of.
I wrote not so long ago about the need for quality veterinary care for the older dog. Like people, as dogs age some of their systems just don’t work as smoothly as they once did. When in doubt get with your Vet and have them run those panels and observe your dog. Know what is going on so you know how to spot an onset of Hypoglycemia and how to manage it. Well, as you might have guessed, I have an older dog who is susceptible to Hypoglycemia.
When Hypoglycemia strikes, typically it will come on quickly and the sooner you can recognize and acknowledge what is going on the easier the episode will be on your dog. The most common symptoms to look for are: extreme lethargy, muscle twitches, possible loss of appetite (this can make recovering the dog super challenging), trembling, loss of coordination, unusual behavior, blindness, and unconsciousness. Please note, this list is far from being all inclusive of all symptoms a dog can display when Hypoglycemia presents itself.
In my case Booker, ten and a half years old now, goes from a hard charging bird finding machine, still capable of covering twenty miles in a day, rather abruptly. From hero to a dog who appears lost, confused, lightly trembling, and uncoordinated. It happens fast and to be frank it can be scary. Worst of all, it’s not entirely predictable other than after a good chunk of intense and prolonged activity the odds of an episode increase.
Once an episode is underway and detected, what you need to do is: Step 1: Stop doing whatever you are doing and get yourself and the dog to a safe area as quickly as practical. Step 2: You have to raise the dog’s blood sugar levels as quickly as possible. Hunters I know use energy gels used by human endurance athletes, they are cheap, small, easy to find and full of maltodextrin. Some use packets of honey. I prefer using pouches of soft dog food, as they pack much more than sugar… If you don’t have any of those options readily at hand, what do you have? How far are you from being able to have something – time is of the essence? Get what you have into your dog! Step 3: “If you were able to feed your dog” Just wait. See if they will take water. Encourage them to sit or lay down. Help them to remain calm. In a few minutes they should perk back up and become themselves again. Step 3: “If you have nothing to give your dog” my friend, you are in a jam. You need to get something into your dog immediately, and you need to be prepared to carry your dog out. He cannot afford expend any more energy. Good luck! Step 4: monitor your dog, don’t be afraid to feed him a small amount again in a little while.
If your dog has gone unconscious, you have a high order emergency on your hand and irreversible permanent damage is likely to be happening to your dog. Time is of the essence. You really need to get to a veterinarian – any veterinarian immediately. The vet will most likely have to administer an intravenous cocktail of dextrose and other fluids to stabilize and save your dog.
Once you know that your dog is susceptible to Hypoglycemic episodes there are a few things you can do. Talk to your veterinarian, run those panels, and see what is going on. What your dog needs may not be what someone else’s dog needs. If your dog suffers from the exercise induced variety which I am mostly writing about, make sure your dog has eaten but has had time to settle before intense activities. Pack, gels and/or soft food packets and feed the dog well before an episode occurs. Be cautious about feeding gels indiscriminately! I feed Booker soft foods periodically during the day if I am out for a long period of time* this is a better strategy for the soft foods versus the gel packs. *This is subjective based on conditions: is it Cold? Wet? Super hilly? Deep cover? Some or all of those conditions? Etcetera... Feeding could begin only 2 hours in, easier conditions 3 or 4…
Usually I make one big post once I am done and back. This year I thought to do a little something different. The season opener was met with a brutal downpour and hail storm, so to say it was wet...was an understatement. The going hasn't been easy, but when is it ever? Despite the reputation of the Mearns quail holding well and being the perfect bird for pointing dogs, they aren't out there giving themselves up for the shot. Scenting conditions are critically important and can dramatically affect a dog's ability to effectively locate and point these little speed demons. Add in tricky cover, steep side hills and a field strewn with millions of ankle breakers. Footing is tenuous and the shooting quick. It all adds up to the make the challenge of hunting Mearns quail.
These photos are of one of Powder's days afield. She really performed incredibly well, sadly not much can be said for my shooting. Enjoy.
There is abundance of mythology and folk lore surrounding what constitutes a good dog food. Modern marketing strategies take advantage of this by leveraging our biases, and ignorance. Most likely, just as you have done, I have looked over all dog food comparison websites in search of the most stars or dog bones a particular web sight will honor a kibble with. About eight years ago I found The Dog Food Project when I was living in Spain. Most websites use flawed grading systems to honor kibble with stars or dog bones as they see fit. Effective marketing equals popularity. Popularity drives demand and demand drives price. Meaning popular doesn't mean better or more cost effective. So how do you avoid buying the Ol' Roy and Beneful's of the dog food world...only about $40 p/month to feed all of our dogs, also considered by most experts to the worst dog food ever produced. Just as important, how to avoid the Gold Plated and Hyper-priced dog foods, like ZiwiPeak and K9 Natural that really aren't worth the extra money - in our case over $3,000 per month to feed our brood!
Selecting a good dog food really comes down to a few things, and it requires some time and energy on your part. So here is what what The Dog Food Project has taught me:
1) Understand the Label
2) Know what to Avoid
3) Recognize the good stuff
Now you know, not all of the "bad" ingredients aren't as bad as we have been "taught" and not all the "good" ingredients aren't as good as we have been "taught". You have the basics down, it is time to read some labels and make some choices. Has your dog shown sensitivity to an ingredient? Can you be sure it was actually the ingredient you think it was? What is your budget? How many dogs do you need to feed? What is their activity level? and so on. You will learn there are a number of very affordable high quality kibbles hiding in plain sight.
and no, we aren't sponsored by Kirkland...I wish though...
Here is an area where a little sacrifice and deliberate effort pays a dividend for a lifetime. We take it seriously pretty much from day one here at Two Gun. We have a house full of Drents and despite having the word “kennel” in our name, our kennel is our home. Having our home smell like urine and feces is for sure a full-stop-no-go around here. It is unpleasant, unsanitary and embarrassing to have guests over.
Potty training isn’t difficult, but it does take some diligence and we strive to set you up for success before pup even goes home. I’m not saying you have no work to do, but it is on you if your pup decides the inside is the place to go…let me explain.
We use wee-wee pads, and in a pinch will use fresh news print. Keeping the puppies’ area clean, dry and sanity is of the utmost importance for a number of reasons. One of them being for potty training, so from the earliest days we begin encouraging the pups to use the pads to do their business away from where they spend their time resting, nursing and playing. Once they become just mobile enough the pads are placed into rabbit trays to set a boundary on the potty area, and this is set back and away from where we greet and care for them, and like has been said where they nurse, rest and play which begins to reinforce the use of the potty zone.
This all goes to build the preference and habit of eliminating away from the desirable areas, and we will then begin to use this preference/habit to help transition them to using the great outdoors.
It has been said in just about every forum of dog training and ownership, lack of house training is one of the top deal-breakers for many...and learning to quickly house train your dog is a top priority for most dog owners – but they too often struggle with this task.
Once pups are getting more mobile, we will introduce the bell to help them associate and give them a way to tell us when they want to go out. This is fiendishly simple, and many dogs will learn the association very rapidly – it will become your job to be Johnny on the Spot with getting them out and praising them when “it” happens.
But before I give you the secret to the door bell, I need you to understand a few things about puppy plumbing and when they will need to go potty. This will help you to get out in front of them and get as close to a 100% success rate as possible. Pups will want to eliminate within a few moments of waking from a nap, after finishing a meal or a play session. The younger they are, the shorter this duration is. You need a Potty Diary. Write down when they did what and what time is was. This really helps you key in on what pup’s cycle is, how many times a day they do what and when they do it. Once you know Spot poop’s three times a day and it happens at 10, 2, and 6…and he’s only done two of the three and it’s 6:30PM, you my friend are on borrowed time. You then need to know your tolerance for risk, are you a gambler? When it comes to poop on my carpet the answer is: not at all – let’s get him outside on a leash and be ready to praise him when it happens.
Why the leash, and why praise? Well, here is the deal, your dog needs to be comfortable doing his thing near you. Do you travel? You will need to collect a sample for the vet eventually. Also, unless you have the ability to correct a puppy within 1/3rd of a second whatever you do to scold him will be lost on him. His ability to associate his punishment with what he did just isn’t there. All you are doing is damaging the trust you are trying to build. So, once YOU have missed the boat, put pup outside, or in his kennel and get your carpet cleaner out and get to work – it’s on all on you my friend.
Okay, back to getting pup on a leash and getting him out. Keep a slip lead around, or really keep a few around in areas you allow the pup, or better yet don’t let pup in an area you aren’t in. When you hustle to the door, with pup trotting by your side or tucked under your arm as the situation may dictate – give the bell a quick jingle on the way out. No fuss no muss, a simple quick jingle every time pup goes out to go potty. That will be seven to ten times a day for a while. My oldest Paxson learned this in barely two weeks, Booker in less than a week. Pup will ring that bell when he wants out. This is a huge help! However, if you are too slow, you will have a wet spot by the door. I can guarantee it. So, don’t let your guard down once the bell in in play. Once in a while a dog will abuse the bell having you be his butler letting him out at will…and that is a different conversation for a different day.
What else can you do to help set the stage? Well before pup ever comes home…
This one may sound obvious, but it’s one most likely the biggest one every dog owner has totally missed. Unless your home has new virgin carpet, deep-clean all accident spots in your home with an enzyme-based cleaner. I strongly recommend knuckling down and purchasing an upright Bissell, any of their pet cleaners really. It is a purchase you will not regret. They do way better than just surface cleaning, you can cycle water and or cleaning fluid through trouble spots and extract excess water and cleaner for rapid drying. Remember wee soaks in and can even penetrate the carpet padding and even the subflooring – and why blotting and other surface cleaning methods just don’t work. Surface cleaning a carpet still leaves odor in the carpet pad and on the sub-floor. If you have trouble spots like this consider using a product like Nature’s Miracle which works well. You should use enough cleaner to fully saturate everywhere urine penetrated – this can be quite a lot of fluid. Remember, a dog’s nose is thousands of times more sensitive than yours, and if he can smell any remnants, he will be tempted to return to that spot to eliminate.
It bears repeating, unless you catch your dog in the act of eliminating indoors and can make an effective correction within 1/3rd of a second (that’s quick pardner), just clean the mess and blame yourself for not managing him closely enough. Some people think, err ah rather, anthropomorphize a dog’s “guilty look” indicates he understands what he did wrong, most likely the dog is reading your hostile demeanor and trying to appease you.
Moving on to the next point, and why it is critically important for you to praise young Spot for doing his business outdoors. Chastising your dog “after the fact” (outside of the 1/3rd of a second window) can produce some negative side-effects. If your dog associates your harshness with his accident, he may become afraid to eliminate in your presence. Not only may he try to hide his accidents from you indoors, but he may not eliminate in your presence when you take him for a walk or go into the back yard with him which then opens the door to having other problems you will need to solve – let’s head those all off at the pass and not allow then to manifest in the first place.
I’ve mentioned it several times already, let’s say you are right there when it happens, and you have the opportunity to make a correction in that split-second window, what is appropriate? Simply interrupt the behavior with a finger-snap and a “no” and get the dog outside to finish his business. When he finishes, praise and reward him.
Another pro-tip is remembering pups rarely have all their stuff together and are easily distracted, so when you get him outside and he’s down one thing and you have praised him. Be sure to give him 5-10 more minutes to sniff around. Dogs often do not empty their bladders/bowels the first time. If he eliminates again, give him 5-10 more minutes if time allows, if not, then he should be kenneled and or closely monitored. Then again, if you have been up on your Potty Diary you may know your pup is fully done and might be up for a gamble – just remember if you lose it’s on you.
Another reason to not to quickly return pup inside right away after he’s done his business is it could begin to teach him that eliminating causes his outdoor fun to end, which could cause him to hold his elimination for longer than necessary periods of time. After his final elimination, keep him outside for a few more minutes before returning indoors.
When your dog is in the process of eliminating, quietly repeat a cue word you would like to use to tell your dog you want him to eliminate. I like to use: “Hurry up. Hurry up. Hurry up.” Later, you can use the cue word/phase to help encourage your dog to get down to business, which can be helpful when traveling or if it is cold out.
A great way to help win all the bets is to get your all your pup’s eating and drinking on a tight schedule. If you can control his input, you can predict his output. If you can predict his output, you can accumulate outdoor successes. And outdoor successes will lead to creating the habit of eliminating outdoors. This also includes getting him through the night without needing to wee at 0230… pick that water up a few hours before you go to bed and be sure to give pup ample opportunity to get it all worked out before putting him down for the night.
Be sure to restrict pup’s movements indoors. They cannot be allowed to have free run. I have an article on teething and this applies there too. You may need to tether pup to you or something initially, and has he becomes more trustworthy allow his area to increase. But out of sight is a recipe for getting acquainted with that new Bissell. Crates and play pens are also valuable tools in helping you to control the battle space, don’t be afraid to use them to your advantage.
The key to quick success with house training is managing the dog’s activity closely and rewarding successes consistently. It is not uncommon for dogs to have regressions once they’ve been completely house trained. If it happens, just take a few liberties away and rebuild from there.
Duck Creek's Two Gun Katmai, daughter of Ember & Paxson, aka Mila (pronounced the Dutch way: "My-lah") spent the back half of her first summer here in Spokane for training. Where she learned the in's and out's of being a bird dog with our friends over at Dunfur Kennels in Cheney. After which she came to stay with us for another two months to learn a myriad of other basic things all good family dogs should know and do e.g. develop a strong recall, be relaxed through nail trimming and teeth cleaning, walk into stores, and so on. Her Guardian came to get her and we had an action packed two and a half days running them through everything. Also included are a few shots of her on her random training outings. Enjoy
This just in from Kansas... Olathe T-Shirt & Trophy made our mirco-order possible, Thanks Scott and Team!
Well...besides some criminal activity like: steal one from a current owner. You'll need to head on over to my web store and order a Print On Demand copy. Sure, they are a bit spendy but honestly it's cheaper than I could sell the book on Amazon due to all of their fees and be able to break even! Let that settle for a quick moment. Craig uses Blurb, and he also doesn't do anything half-way, so all of the "settings" are on maximum quality. We used the service to create the first two proof-books, and speaking from experience the quality of the binding, paper, and printing is as every bit as good in all ways as the print run I had done (which was freaking top notch).
But it is best to have it before you do! Conibear traps are out there, and in some of the damnedest places. Most of our Drents are too big for most of these deadly traps, but for young Drents and some females they are a real threat. Downloadable PDF guide HERE. Be safe and enjoy your time afield.
is nearly always a chore, one which can be richly rewarded from time to time, but oftentimes is good old fashioned hard work. Unlike released birds at a preserve, wild pheasants don't just hang around and wait to be harvested. They mostly like to cut and run like hell putting as much thick brambly stuff between them and you. It's a reason most like to use a flushing dog on them. To get the pressure up, and have the bird make a tactical mistake - fly. With a pointing dog, you need a dog that can put that kind of pressure on the bird, but also lock up once the bird thinks it is safe. Today, I hunted Booker & Fowler together and they where able to coax a few to make just that very mistake. Looks like Pheasant Schnitzel is back on the menu boys!
This morning in the Netherlands Joeri got to earn his kibble working for five gunners. Enjoy
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.