Two Gun has been on the move with a myriad of comings and goings these past several months. It seems some things are beginning to settle and things are getting to their new normal. First we have relocated, still in Spokane, and still on the esteemed South Hill, we are near Hamblen Park in a tastefully restored 1950's rancher with a larger yard. Paxson just celebrated his twelfth birthday yesterday. He continues to soldier on despite what father time has had to say. Also yesterday, we took Fowler and Powder to participate in Spokane Bird Dog Association's annual Chukar Challenge where 28 dogs ran in braces and had a maximum of 15 minutes to find and retrieve 2 birds. The 8 fastest times from Round 1 moved onto Round 2 where the final dogs battled it out for bragging rights and a big jar of pickles. Fowler qualified in 3rd and Powder qualified 6th, he finished 2nd and she ended up 5th in the final round! He won a jar of pickles and both won a small Buck Knife. We had a great time despite the terrible conditions and we couldn't be more proud of them both!
If it isn’t you… you have seen plenty of people out “dog skiing”, being pulled down the sidewalk by their amazing canine companion… or tangled around sign posts, tripping over irregularities in the pavement, or heaven forbid there be another dog walking towards you on the other side of the road! If you are like me, with a with a bad back, putting up with this is not acceptable. Tolerating this behavior will become a matter of riding the sofa for weeks and choking down pain meds, so it’s a full stop, “no go”. So how do you prevent it? And how do you become that guy (or gal) in your neighborhood who is secretly the envy of all other dog walkers with your dog neatly at heel?
Showing off is one thing, but safety and security is another thing altogether and is a legitimate goal to pursue. I often walk all of my Drents together at once, so having their cooperation is quite important, as I could easily be carried away.
Safety and security, sounds pretty serious, but the health and welfare of you and your Drent are something of importance! Maybe you are accustomed to being dragged along by your dog and don’t realize the implications, and that there may be a better way. A leash-puller can run the risk of breaking away from your control, which can be a danger to your dog. Things such as continuing to run into traffic, towards some unfriendly animal, and of course the danger to yourself as I’ve already eluded to. Furthermore, proper leash manners minimize the risk of you injuring your dog in a moment of overzealous leash yanking and will make the time spent walking your dog more about walking and less about tug-of-war, or skiing, with the typical accompaniment of cussing and fussing.
“From a relationship perspective,” explains Sarah Fraser, a certified professional dog trainer and co-founder of Instinct Behavior & Training in New York City, “if your dog is walking nicely on a leash, it likely means that your dog is paying more attention to you, making it easier for you to provide direction and guidance as needed along your walk.” I find this quote to be very accurate and important to take note of. Fraser goes on to say, “Teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash allows you to take her more places and for longer walks, because it’s more comfortable and enjoyable for the both of you.” Few truer words have been spoken I feel.
Tips for Better Walking Behavior
Adjust your attitude.
First, ask yourself: “What would I like my dog to do instead?” Instead of teaching a dog to stop pulling, think of teaching your dog to heel as teaching your dog how to walk nicely beside you.
Remember it’s all about the rewards - sorta.
Since a Drent is nearly always hungry you can use this to your advantage! One of the easiest and most effective ways to start teaching a dog to walk properly on a leash is to reward the dog for paying attention to you and for being in the desired position (next to you or close to you) when out for a walk.
“As the dog learns that walking next to you is a pleasant, rewarding experience, she’ll spend less time pulling and more time walking nicely beside you,” says Fraser. “Try using very special treats in the beginning, like small pieces of boiled chicken or roast beef, to really get your dog’s attention,” Fraser advises. I’m a huge fan of raw hotdogs cut to pencil eraser sized pieces. Just have your dog sit near you, say its name, and give half once he/she looks you directly in the eyes. The better your dog gets at this, treat him less and less consistently. Sessions should only last a few minutes at most a couple of times a week. If your dog “loses the bubble” with his consistent and prompt response just go back to being more consistent with treating. Keep in mind reinforcement behaviors on your part, positive or negative, need to be within 1/3 of a second.
Play the “follow me” game.
This is an extension on the game from above and how I prefer to teach a recall: ‘come’ or ‘here’. Doing this with a partner is ideal. Each person should have a store of high-value treats at the ready, and the pup with collar and line (you can use a 6’ lead, but a longer cord can be helpful). You both are within an arm’s reach of one another. Person one (P1) has pup nearby, and Person two (P2) says the pups name in an upbeat and higher pitched tone, once pup looks them in the eyes, they take a step back and say ‘here’ (or command of choice). While P1 allows the line slack, P2 holds the treat out to help entice pup in and allows pup to have the treat once he is in close. Tell him ‘good boy’ and be enthusiastic but not overwhelming. Wash, rinse, repeat. As pup becomes more and more responsive, add distance slowly. Keep sessions short, and use the line as needed to ensure pup doesn’t stray in the event he gets excited and decides to run if the game becomes too fun.
Once pup is pretty good at this, try this without an assistant. Hold on to your leash and take several backward steps away from your dog. The backward movement is inviting, so your dog is likely to turn and follow you. You don’t need to use your recall command, but it can be helpful if Sparky doesn’t find your step back inviting…also, he is accustomed to this from the earlier exercise. Say “yes!” as your dog approaches you, then immediately reward him or her with a treat.
“The game helps your dog focus and move with you,” says Fraser. Then back away several steps in another direction. Once again, say “yes!” as your dog approaches and reward him or her with a treat. Repeat this sequence a few times, until your dog is actively pursuing you when you move away. Remember to stay upbeat, and be sure to remain attuned to your dog’s interest in the game – better to go short than long. A few really good ones are significantly better than a bunch of so-so ones or worse yet ad handful of bad ones. This lure and reward technique is very low pressure, and you can become more and more selective as to what earns a treat as pups’ performance improves e.g. getting him to sit beside you versus in front.
Practice on your regular walks.
Once you’ve started your stride, each time your dog looks up at you or walks next to you, says “yes!” and immediately reward him or her with a treat. For those of you who like clickers, pop your clicker in leu of saying ‘yes’.
"Frequent rewards will help your dog figure out more quickly what behavior you’re looking for and make the learning process easier for her,” Fraser goes on to explain, “The trick to making this work is using very special treats at first, and keeping your rate of reinforcement high, which just means that you are marking and rewarding often — maybe every 4-5 steps at first — for any and all ‘good’ leash behavior.”
“Over time, you can thin out your rate of reinforcement, rewarding your dog less frequently throughout the course of the walk,” Fraser adds.
Consider additional assistance.
If your dog is already a practiced puller, there is still hope. Like nearly all training issues with dogs, going back to the beginning and using lots of treats can many times work small miracles. Sometimes you may need to consider employing more serious training aids for the job at hand. For these you may want to visit with an experienced trainer to learn how to correctly use these aids, but a properly fitted prong or JASA collar, while looking pretty rough, are generally much subtler in their employment than a traditional training (choker collar). I am not a fan of the various body-clip or head-muzzle harnesses, as most tend to give the dog leverage, or can be very dangerous to the dog. However, if your dog already pulls hard, consider working with a certified, science-based positive-reinforcement type trainer.
Finally, remember that walking on a leash is a skill that takes time and practice for everyone involved, so be sure to celebrate your incremental improvements.
Our buddy Jenna Myers has her web page up and running finally and has finally announced the planned and approved mating of her Ember and our Paxson! For more details and waiting list inquires please visit her website soonest. HERE
We finally got an ultrasound nailed down the morning of 5 May, which happens to be the day the pups begin to become boys and girls. The pups were far enough along to be easily seen: arms and legs, feet, toes, faces, umbilical cords and even heartbeats where all easily observed. We really got a best case scenario with this ultrasound in all ways, which isn't really an expectation but a hope - we are ecstatic for the results! We expect delivery just after Memorial Day.
9 March 2017 marks day one. We expect to make the trip to Georgia over the St. Patrick's day holiday. Providing everything goes as planned we predict pups to be born on or about 20 May. Still much to happen between now and then. Our client list for this litter was re-opened last week, due to life getting the better of an inordinate number of clients we had been very excited about placing puppies with. Aside from that, we hope you enjoy this little video clip of Munson, the sire to be. He really is such a lovely Drent:
UPDATE: 27 March 2017
Progesterone levels have finally indicated the time is right. Powder is on her way to Savannah!
This year's epic border to border Mearns quail hunt was a good one for sure. However, soon after arriving, we were getting some odd scraping sounds from the front-end while in four wheel drive. Enter the 8-day Challenger visit, and a new front differential. Despite being committed to hunting only easily accessible "bottom-feeder" hunts, the dogs did well, and it was good to have remembered my shooting mojo these combined netted my best harvest ever. The return trip got serious in Southern Idaho when the transfer-case suffered a catastrophic failure; detonating and starting a vehicle fire when the gear oil splashed onto the exhaust. Needless to say, having all that go down at 75mph was a whole level of excitement I'm okay without. The link will take you to a Google Photo album, which does a fine job of encapsulates the trip, and makes skimming over a large gallery easy. If you see something interesting, just click and take a closer look. Enjoy The GALLERY HERE.
On 19 Decemeber 2016, we learned Meadowbrook's Munson passed his last health check, and we are clear to proceed. I was able to evaluate the litter Munson was a part of when the pups were about 5 weeks old and took a few notes. I'm a big fan of both the mother and father of the litter he is from; and know the lineage of both sides of his family tree very well, so having this workout is very exciting for us. Munson is a beautiful sweet boy who has grown to be wonderful, representative of his parents in all ways (with the mother being the primary influence) and the breed. Munson has a winning way with people and knows how to steal center stage, whether it's at the hunt club or a professional photo shoot for something other than him.
Of course Powder has passed all of her health requirements plus. She is a dynamo in the field, and a great family companion. Her heat cycles have remained pretty consistent so we are expecting a trip to Savanah Georgia in late February. But we will see what mother nature throws our way, as that will guide all of our efforts from here on out.
We will be developing a section here at Two Gun just for this litter. This planned breeding has been sanctioned by the DPCNA and official announcements have been posted on both the www.DPCNA.org and the DPCNA Facebook pages.
For more information with regard to this planned mating, please feel free to contact us.
That will happen to a guy with a toddler, four dogs, adding a bunch of new merchandise to the DPCNA portfolio, and some simblance of a life. But we are still getting out there. Here are a few photos from this season that I enjoy. I've not been carrying the DSLR this season, just the cell phone, which has it's plusses and minuses. It means much fewer photos, since I have to take my glove off to tap the screen, and outside the need to zoom, the quality of the phone is now on par, or even slightly better than our aged DSLR... Otherwise I hope you enjoy.
Powder and I got skunked on Valley Quail today, but pup was able to have lot of fun with Pheasant! I was hoping we might get lucky and find some Quail in the larger structure, or even pick up a random covey of Hungarian Partridge along an edge, but no there were Pheasant by the truck load, which was fun enough for us to almost be late to meet the Fosters. Here is a link to 1/3 of the video I thought I had shot - enjoy!
Despite being only two years of age, Powder is drawn to quail like fillings to a magnet. While I never was able to make the time to get hunt test results for her father, I've managed to successfully hunt him in eight states on most of North America's upland bird species, and her mom is one of the first Drents to earn NAVHDA credentials. She has finding birds and pointing in her blood. Her favorite game is clearly quail.
Besides those two mucking about, we are working on something special for 2017. Let's all hope this plan gets off the ground. Until we get closer to that, we hope you have some great plans for your family and friends this summer.
Through some of the twists and turns life throws at us, we managed to opt out of taking advantage of Powder's spring heat cycle. We have plans for a 2017 litter, and have full intent to make that happen. Until then enjoy these two best buds enjoying some time together. As always feel free to reach out to us, we are happy to field your questions. Until next time - take care.
For me, visiting Arizona for is about way more than just the birds. Friends, incredible scenery, sunrises, dogs, good food, sunsets, and violating car washes...
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.