So how do you do this, help your dog teach itself? As I have mentioned in most of my training articles I have been moving more and more towards shaping techniques for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because they work and work well. The technique is easy to employ, sometimes a bit of forethought is needed - in particular if you are used to doing things the old way. The dog becomes much more predictable sooner, and becomes even easier to "train" because of it. Brad Higgins allows 'the bird to do the training', but really he guides the dog through some scenarios where the dog teaches itself what to do, we just happen to help set the stage, and provide the right reinforcement(s) at the right time to help set the behavior in the dog's mind. Here is a nice video by Stonnie Dennis which help illustrate what I am trying to say (his videos from this period are his most informative):
Sadly this is the first year that we played and didn't make the finals. I suppose a little humble pie is good for us all from time to time. Apparently we had become too accustomed to bringing home one of the coveted jugs of pickles or one of the other lesser prizes. That being said, I am very proud of how Powder ran this morning. She worked the field expertly and handled like a pro. The conditions were tough, many people came in with no birds or only one. Usually the finals are determined by the fastest time, today only those who got their two birds to hand within the ten minute time limit moved onto the final. Powder did have her second bird, but the horn sounded as I moved into position... Disappointing to say the least. We let little Ila tag along and she had a field day romping around as you may have expected.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some years later this is what you get.