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.
There are, I suppose, three primary ways to breed a female. 1) Put a female in heat and a male together and just let Mother Nature run it's course. This works pretty well for strays, I am assuming here, and many "backyard breeders". 2) The Old School way: put them together on days 10, 12, and 14. This too has worked for many breeders for many years, but not all females ovulate at this point in their cycle and using this method can result in small litters or missed breedings all together. 3) Use progesterone testing. This is the only method which scientifically quantifies when and what is actually happening in the female's body, which tells the breeder what to expect and when to expect it. As you may have guessed, we use option three: Progesterone Testing.
Why is this important? We have two main factors involved. Egg and Sperm viability. Some females "run fast" and ovulate before day 10. Some "run slow" and ovulate well after day 10. The canine egg takes forty-eight to sixty hours after ovulation to be ready for conception, and remains viable for up to three days. In all from ovulation you have about five days. So knowing when this window of opportunity is open is key. In particular when you know it takes Sperm time to capacitate and have they a finite window of viability. Generally, sperm can be expected to be viable in the female up to seven days for a live mating. For chilled and frozen semen the timeline is much tighter with sperm viability being around 24 hours for chilled and only 12 hours for frozen.
Like two ships at sea wishing to exchange passengers while remaining in motion, there is an optimal time for this to happen, the further we get away from the optimal window of opportunity the lower the odds of success. As you might imagine, just like the passenger exchange. Too early, not all of them will make it, too late you get the same effect, but for different reasons. In the sweet spot as many that could make it will. So having everything in place at the right time really matters.
My Answer: No need to send any crates in advance, we have so many crates it would boggle your mind. Literally, we have a stack of them consuming a corner of our basement. We will begin acclimatizing the pups to crates shortly after they get under their own power. Primarily we will use plastic airline kennels to get the pups started. They will be more likely to chew wire crates, and this isn’t a behavior we want to get ingrained at the start.
That Orvis crate looks to be a nice one, but with a pup, and a boy Drent at that...I couldn't recommend it as an initial investment. He could get lucky and It could be just right, or it could end up being a bit small, or maybe even a bit small for an at home sleeping crate… All on our adult dogs have quite large wire crates so they can lay comfortably when we are away, but when they are pups, they aren’t given such luxury. I did recommend recommend looking on Facebook marketplace, or any other comparable source, for used crates, in particular "life-stages" crates which have a movable panel which will help with potty training. You can make the puppies space smaller when they are tiny and move it to make their space larger as their needs evolve and their bladders strengthen. Then you can either fold it up or sell it once you are done with it.
As I have mentioned in my book, Drents will be really close to full size at around 11-13 months of age. Boys, in particular, will still be filling out: gaining bone and muscle mass up until possibly 3 years of age, and his coat will continue to develop pretty much his whole life, but his adult coat could take until he is 3 or 4 years of age. Females will be done much closer to 18 months but will also likely see some coat development as they age, but to a much smaller extent than the boys. With Drents, it is important to realize Sexual Dimorphism is common in the breed, with the boys being larger. Also, boys can take longer to mature physically (mostly the "finishing out" phase).
With the Powder X Joeri litter my best guess would be most of the litter will be close to the size of the parents as I have posted. But with the Drent, there is a lot of variety, and some bloodlines have more than others and in this case on the father's side of the family, there is a greater amount of uniformity in size 23"-24" at the shoulder. On the mother’s side there are some really big boys. So, while it is unlikely, it may be possible we could see a 25" boy.
So for the home, in short, I think buying an adjustable kennel, or a series of the plastic bodied kennels is your best option for his first year. Clean, used, but well-maintained kennels are the best way to go until you know for sure how big he is going to be.
In writing this, I see where I totally failed John. I didn’t even touch on the travel part of kenneling your dog. When it comes to airlines, really, these requirements have become a moving target, and so checking with your airline of choice several months in advance is critical. What I will touch upon is crating for overland/highway travel. I am a huge fan of having my dogs crated while rolling down the road, it just solves so many problems before they even have a chance to rear their heads to become one! For travel with Drents I am not in favor of wire, or folding wire crates. I have a friend and mentor who uses them, his dogs are small, so he has never had a problem. I used them and stopped after having the crates collapse at the least opportune time. I use Intermediate Ruff Tough kennels, now called Ruff Land, kennels. They are a bit small for our larger boys, and about right-ish for the girls and they are strapped down to the “Hell for Stout” Carty Vault with 2,500# cargo straps. You can buy tougher kennels these days, but I’ve never had a problem or heard of a problem with a “Ruff Tough” – they are tough as wood pecker lips. The small size isn’t great for long road trips but does keep the dogs from being tossed around in the back country. Everything is a compromise, and I went a bit towards safety over comfort.
Paxson will soon be thirteen years old. He is surprisingly healthy, but his rear-end just isn't really with the program so much. So we took Paxson Double Barrel Ranch so he could get some action, and Booker was brought along for back up - as we were pretty much counting on the fact Paxson couldn't make the whole hunt. Also, we brought young Robert, my four and a half year old son, for his first pheasant hunt. All in all, a good time was had.
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 turned into a behavior I have never been able to completely 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.
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…
There is an 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 website will honor a kibble with. About eight years ago I found The Dog Food Project when I was living in Spain and this is where I learned most websites use flawed grading systems to honor kibble with stars or dog bones as they see fit. In short, 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, which are 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 feeding those diets would cost us over $3,000 per month to feed our brood! We spend about $40 p/month to feed our five Drents.
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 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? The FDA recently published an article which strongly suggests grain-free diets are not what they are cracked to be are linked to certain health problems! 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.
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.
Sure the Washington pheasant opener is tomorrow morning and the place I wanna go is dictating a very early wake up. But it's been too long! We've made a few tweaks here and there, and over the coming weeks new imagery will begin to populate throughout. Our super cool coffee mugs are finally on the merch page after spending almost two years in seclusion and being coveted gifts to friends... Also, via a Facebook contact I managed to get a t-shirt source that is affordable in super small batches. You know it, an order is in the works! Until next time, keep it rubber-side down and take care of yourself and yours as best you can.
Earlier this year it was looking like father time had finally caught up with the Old Man. He was taken to a vet, one that gave us a terrible prognosis. Yet, he soldiered on. With moves, house shopping, a looming retirement, and a whole lot of life going on...sadly it took longer than desired or expected to get him to my vet. Urine & blood were run, and all the "shot from the hip" diagnoses he had been given were quickly dashed away. We did learn he had a raging UTI (urinary tract infection) and most likely he has arthritis in his lower back. So with some basic antibiotics, and a minimal dosage of carprofen it is as if Paxson has been bathed in the fountain of youth. Thanks Dr. Nick!
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.
1. Remember that the animals you select for breeding today will have an impact on the breed for many years to come. Keep that thought firmly in mind when you choose breeding stock.
2. You can choose only two individuals per generation. Choose only the best, because you will have to wait for another generation to improve what you start with. Breed only if you expect the progeny to be better than both parents.
3. You cannot expect statistical predictions to hold true in a small number of animals (as in one litter of puppies). Statistics only apply to large populations.
4. A pedigree is a tool to help you learn the good and bad attributes that your dog is likely to exhibit or reproduce. A pedigree is only as good as the dog it represents.
5. Breed for a total dog, not just one or two characteristics. Don't follow fads in your breed, because they are usually meant to emphasize one or two features of the dog at the expense of the soundness and function of the whole.
6. Quality does not mean quantity. Quality is produced by careful study, having a good mental picture of what you are trying to achieve, having patience to wait until the right breeding stock is available and to evaluate what you have already produced, and above all, having a breeding plan that is at least three generations ahead of the breeding you do today.
7. Remember that skeletal defects are the most difficult to change.
8. Don't bother with a good dog that cannot produce well. Enjoy him (or her) for the beauty that he represents but don't use him in a breeding program.
9. Use out-crosses very sparingly. For each desirable characteristic you acquire, you will get many bad traits that you will have to eliminate in succeeding generations.
10. Inbreeding is a valuable tool, being the fastest method to set good characteristics and type. It brings to light hidden traits that need to be eliminated from the breed.
11. Breeding does not "create" anything. What you get is what was there to begin with. It may have been hidden for many generations, but it was there.
12. Discard the old cliché about the littermate of that great producer being just as good to breed to. Littermates seldom have the same genetic make-up.
13. Be honest with yourself. There are no perfect dogs (or bitches) nor are there perfect producers. You cannot do a competent job of breeding if you cannot recognize the faults and virtues of the dogs you plan to breed.
14. Hereditary traits are inherited equally from both parents. Do not expect to solve all of your problems in one generation.
15. If the worst puppy in your last litter is no better than the worst puppy in your first litter, you are not making progress. Your last litter should be your last litter.
16. If the best puppy in your last litter is no better than the best puppy in your first litter, you are not making progress. Your last litter should be your last litter.
17. Do not choose a breeding animal by either the best or the worst that he (or she) has produced. Evaluate the total get by the attributes of the majority.
18. Keep in mind that quality is a combination of soundness and function. It is not merely the lack of faults, but the positive presence of virtues. It is the whole dog that counts.
19. Don't allow personal feelings to influence your choice of breeding stock. The right dog for your breeding program is the right dog, whoever owns it. Don't ever decry a good dog; they are too rare and wonderful to be demeaned by pettiness.
20. Don't be satisfied with anything but the best. The second best is never good enough.
• Don't make use of indiscriminate outcrosses. A judicious outcross can be of great value, an injudicious one can produce an aggregation of every imaginable fault in in the breed.
• Don't line breed just for the sake of line breeding. Line breeding with complimentary types can bring great rewards, with unsuitable ones it will lead to immediate disaster.
• Don't take advice from those who have always been unsuccessful breeders if their opinion were worth having they would have proved it by their successes.
• Don't believe the popular cliché about the brother or the sister of the great Champion beingas good to breed from, for every one that is, there are hundreds that are not. It depends on the animal concerned.
• Don't credit your own dogs with virtues they do not possess. Self deceit is a stepping stone to failure. In other words don't be kennel blind.
• Don't breed from mediocrities, the absence of a fault does not in any way signify the presence of its corresponding virtue.
• Don't try to line breed two dogs at the same time; you will end by line breeding to neither.
• Don't assess the worth of a stud dog by his inferior progeny. All stud dogs sire rubbish at times; what matters are how good their best efforts are.
• Don't allow personal feelings to influence your choice of a stud dog. The right dog for your bitch is the right dog whoever owns it.
• Don't allow admiration of a stud dog to blind you to his faults. If you do you will soon be the victim of autointoxication.
• Don't mate together animals which share the same faults. You are asking for trouble if you do.
• Don't forget that it is the whole dog that counts. If you forget one virtue while searching for another you will pay for it.
• Don't search for the perfect dog as a mate for your bitch. The perfect dog (or bitch) doesn't exist, never has or never will!
• Don't be frightened of breeding from animals that have obvious faults so long as they have compensating virtues. A lack of virtue is far the greatest fault of all.
• Don't mate together non-complementary types. An ability to recognize type at a glance is a breeder's greatest gift; ask the successful breeders to explain this subject - there is no other way of learning. (I would define non-complementary types as ones which have the same faults and lack the same virtues.)
• Don't forget the necessity to preserve head quality. It will vanish like a dream if you do.
• Don't forget that substance plus quality should be one of your aims. Any fool can breed one without the other.
• Don't forget that a great head plus soundness should be one of your aims. Many people can never breed either!
• Don't ever try to decry a great dog. A thing of beauty is not only a joy forever but also a great price and pleasure to all true lovers of the breed
This was a "High-Stakes" members-only-event put on by the Spokane Bird Dog Association. Sadly, we missed last year, but there was no way we were missing this year! The stakes are very high at Bingopalooza, it may be possible if you are caught not having fun you may have to wear a ridiculous hat, a tiara, a tutu or even possibly all. With pressure like that, you can imagine what this does to both dog and handler. A perfect opportunity for Nik to debut her mad handling skills.
Puppies are magnificent! Sadly they come equipped with milk-teeth, which are not. Adding to the situation, pups explore their world with their mouths. They will quite literally bite and chew on anything they can get even just partially into their mouths. This includes your hair, fingers, and the claw foot of the hundred-year-old table in your dining room.
I’ll start with mitigating puppy nipping, one of the biggest things you can do is to avoid making this a game by playfully squealing and pulling away rapidly (our normal sound and reaction). There are a few things you can do. One is a high-pitched puppy like squeal, one like your puppy does when he doesn’t like something or when something startles him, or he finds something uncomfortable. Additionally, you can make your fingers less attractive to chew on with these strategies. Keep a puppy Nyla bone handy with you always (you will need several of these, and the presence of mind to keep one or two with you). As soon a pup starts chewing on you, trade out your finger or toe with the Nyla bone, and praise as soon as pup transitions. This little redirect is subtle and works quite well. I’m a big fan of the puppy Nyla bone they work quite well since they put tons of flavor a smell in them, they don’t get nasty so keeping one on the arm of the sofa isn’t off-putting in sight or smell, and they offer an appropriate level of softness; to not hurt pup’s teeth and gums. The downside is an adult dog will gobble one of these babies down in seconds. You can also use this “swap” technique when pup is chewing the leg of your antique table or whatever else they are diligently working on e.g. your drywall, expensive hiking boot, etc.
Okay, so you have been caught without something to redirect with and/or pup is being very feisty. This is where you make your finger less desirable. This isn’t exactly nice, but done with some care you will not hurt pup, but your fingers will lose their magical allure. Start off with the puppy “pain squeak”, and if pup persists, instead of withdrawing your finger simply move it on in, and gently gag him. Yep, it’s not nice, but it works. Sometimes once is all you need. If you don’t like that, while pup is gnawing on you use you other fingers or hand to get his lip/jowl flesh between you and his teeth. He will then have to bite himself on the way to biting you – this also has a way of cooling off the party.
Puppies and young dogs are going to chew, Drents tend to not be destructive and if yours is odds are you aren’t exercising him enough. But they are dogs and they will chew. Antlers can be good for some chewers, as raw bones and a myriad of commercially available products can be good as well. However, when pup has loose teeth and sore gums a well-trained chewer can suddenly stop chewing on approved items and move to things on the unapproved list; wooden table and chair legs seem to be go to items. Why is this? Well, their mouths are tender, and the items they were used to chewing on are probably too hard. Fortunately, solving this can be done on the cheap! Take an old sock or two, tie a knot in them, wet thoroughly, place individually in zip lock baggies and freeze. The sock(s) will thaw and be soft enough, but offer some satisfying chewing and being frozen it will also be soothing to their gums. You can also freeze carrots, they can provide for great chewing and soothing comfort.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.