If you managed to evade the survey pop up on my landing page, it is here for you to take at your leisure. Thank you in advance for your feedback!
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.
I am very happy to announce that Duck Creek's ALASKA litter, aka the "Paxbers", arrived safely this past week. Momma Ember has 5 boys and 1 girl. All are healthy and growing like weeds! All puppies are spoken for and they are gorgeous!!
Happy New Year to all! Best wishes to you and yours for this coming year: to your success, good health and happiness. Normally I would be starting my hunting trip in Patagonia, but as luck would have it, with a heavy Air Force influence, I have recently returned! Your hunting report: it was hard this year. Over 90 days without rain in the region, so to say it was dry would be an understatement, and it was unseasonably warm. I had 80+ degrees on my thermometer regularly.
The monsoon rains weren't in the right places, but came at the right time, so none of the quail populations benefited... in fact they were all given the short end of the stick. Meaning numbers of all species really weren't much to speak of. Still, no one is feeding their families on desert quail. You go for the dogs, some camaraderie with friends, the country and it's amazing vistas and maybe some of the wines of the region. A special shout out goes to Scott Conley for making the trip south to meet with me, he's tried for years now, but it seems there is always something that comes up. This past trip was no different, sicker than a dog he managed one hot day afield over Booker, we got into one covey and the shooting was terrible. Such is the game. None the less Scott is an amazing gentleman and it was a true pleasure to finally meet him in person after all these years!
Due sometime around the 5th of January. With a little help from science, Paxson sires litter at 11.5 years of age. The Old Man had the strength, and the potency, but lacked some critical flexibility in the lumbar region. Which required a side-by-side Artificial Insemination technique to be used, making this the first successful AI take in North America. So it can be done! We were fortunate to have had a skilled veterinarian, Dr. Roberts, at Fairwood Animal hospital who made it all look easy. I'm not having Paxson collected and preserved, so this will be his last direct offspring. This pairing has been in the works for such a long time now, and the two have great Drent temperaments, personalities, and looks. We are really looking forward to seeing these pups, much thought & energy went into making this pairing happen.
Explored a new area this morning, came up empty handed, and somehow lost my tethered "Gunfighter" Nalgene bottle in a horrible bramble. On the upside I was rewarded with vistas like these.
Short and sweet, hunting has been slow this year. Normally I would have already been over to Montana to visit my "older brother" and good friend Dave, but the lingering affects of my concussion have had me rolling slow since mid-August. Took Booker and Paxson out yesterday and managed a hard won rooster out of one of my favorite PITA to hunt honey holes. Always birds there, but having expectations on pulling one out is a whole other story. Enjoy.
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.
So my concussion recovery more or less synchronized with a break in the terrible smoke conditions we have been having. We managed to head out to the North woods to see about some forest grouse. While the action was slow, it's hard to complain when a limit is taken. We happened upon a group of ruffed grouse, and took a pair of juveniles. Pure dumb luck brought us to a nice mature male, and later on Jorja managed to roust a juvenile out feeding. All in all, a really nice day!
As the handful of you who frequent my little corner of the internet have likely figured out long ago, in addition to Dutch Dogs, and chasing birds, I really enjoy photography. Nik and I have had a Nikon D60 for the past nine years, and it has served us well. In fact about eighty-percent of the photos in my book where taken by that very camera, and much to the dismay of Craig, my publisher, none of the photos were shot "RAW" and many weren't even "fine JPG" either. I've lugged that camera around just about everywhere, even my buddy Dave had to use it to capture some photos for an article he was working on when he forgot his own rig. As my photography needs grew, it became apparent the D60's auto focus system wasn't fast or accurate enough, nor was it's frames per second adequate - 3fps, which we thought were blazing back in 2008. I've spent the past two years researching DSLR cameras and pounced on the new Nikon D7500 shortly after its release. This new body gives me much of what the D500 offers without the added expense: an amazing processor, a deep buffer, 8fps, yet still holds onto Point and Shoot capability for when that's all I want to do, and Snapbridge - which set up easily and has worked flawlessly for me. Pretty much all wins across the board for me - yay!
On the side, I've fooled around with various editors, most weren't that great either in their power or flexibility or cost. I've become a big fan of Google Photos over the years, and use it extensively - but still I wanted more, and I wanted it for free. Getting the new DSLR has put me to search, and I have gone with Tony Northrup's recommendation to use Photoscape X and Raw Therapee to meet my emergent needs. These programs don't adulterate the original file and are much, much more flexible and powerful than either MS Photos or Google Photos, and you don't have to fool around with adding an Andriod OS on your PC to use cool apps like Snapseed.
This photo was shot on the US-Mexico border, conditions were clear skies and bright sun light. Original un-edited from the camera on the left. a bit washed out, with deep shadows on Booker's face. MS Photos, was able to bring back back some more natural color, and manage a simple crop. Photoscape X helped bring up more natural color, and through masking I was able to ease (lighten) some of the deep shadows on the left side of his face and make his eye visible - pretty sweet.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.