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Training and everyday events.
|Posted on May 6, 2018 at 2:49 AM||comments (2467)|
I have just finished listening to an audible book that was so enchanting I want to now read it, again, and again. The book is called Nigel and was written by the gardener and wonderfully spoken Monty Don.
Monty tells us of Nigel and of his other dogs he has had over the years, revealing his life and weaving through his garden as the story unfurls.
I laughed out loud at points of the story, and I cried when he told us about the loss of each dog, sharing a love that many of us have for our dogs, and also sharing with us that dreaded day we all fear.
He comes across as an open and honest man.
In one of the chapter Monty tells of meeting with a gamekeeper, he tells us that @I remembered every word when it came to training Nigel'. The Game keeper was at the least a second generation Gamekeeper, and over a couple of pints of beer he passed onto Monty some wise words concerning dog training. The gamekeeper said 'Everything should be geared to making the dog want to please you rather than subjugating it to your will.'
The gamekeeper also said never hit a dog. 'Reward is the key', he said, 'not punishment. the dog wants to please you more than anything else. Tell him he has done well. He will respond to the tone of your voice. But also carry some biscuits and cheese and give him a scrap when he does exactly what you command. By the same token never reward him if e he only does half a job.'
Monty in a later chapter tells of his belief that "Dogs can truly. in any sense of the word, love their owners. This means that the relationship between a dog and a human can be deeply rich and rewarding for both parties. They are not 'just an animal'. They are the dearest of friends and part of the family. So when a criticism is levelled that someone treats their dogs 'like children' implying that this is a step too far. it may well be that this is appropriate and reasonable. Every dog has a role that can only be determined by each individual family.
He goes onto say how that 'the notion that an owner has to assume the role of leader of the pack, to be the Alpha dog, with their dogs submissive and therefore obedient, is a nonsense that is a complete misunderstanding of the canine mentality. Dogs are not domesticated wolves but have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be a species in complete synchronicity with humans and dependant upon them.' He goes on to say how 'bullying your dog is a relationship based upon fear pandering to the macho ego of humans.'
Monty also talks about his son who is a farmer with a very skilled sheepdog called Meg, how she responds to the slightest look or intonation, but how you have to be really firm and shout at her at times to hold her back.
Wise words from Monty for that is all one should need at most to use with a dog, just ones voice. People say that the old way to train a dog was 'Break a dog', and yes that did use to happen and sadly still does. but there has always been throughout the years owners who have trained without ever raising a hand to the wonderful animal that is striving to understand what the owner wants. So many of us train our dogs with kindness, working through the training with our dog, together as a growing team that will share many wonderful cherished moments. Never needing to or wanting to raise our hand to them, never needing to give ourselves an excuse that 'it's only five percent of the time', for we know you don't have to harm your Partner to know to do so is wrong on so may levels.
|Posted on April 16, 2018 at 9:40 AM||comments (71)|
The Stop and it's Golden Rules
one of the two most Important things all dog owners should teach their dog
A lovely Lady asked me how I got such a good stop with my girls, it is quite easy really, I just stuck by some Golden rules that I found worked for me and with some added Golden rules taught to me by some excellent trainers, two of which being the best trainers (as far as I am concerned) in the UK if not the world, and one isn't a Gundog trainer :)
The stop can and should be taught with positive training methods, to do otherwise would just lead to more complications later, and you want the dog to think and not to shut down. If done positively the dog will stop fast and think "Wow, she is stopping me, something good is about to happen" leading to a dog, alert and looking,. you do not want your dog on hearing the whistle to think "Oh no, I've done something wrong, what have I done wrong", as this will lead to a dog shutting down and therefore not open or ready for the next command or event.
The Golden Rules of the stop
Never recall from a sit
One must remember that the SIT is the STOP.
As soon as one starts training a pup or adult dog that hasn't been trained, or when recapping with an adult dog that has been trained, one should never recall from a sit but to always go back to the dog before releasing, this will mean that the dog will expect that, that will become the habit, creating a solid Sit. If one trains a dog to recall from a sit, then one has a dog that is always waiting for the recall and therefore the habit you have created in the dog will be to expect at some point to run in to you, therefore creating an unsteady dog through anticipation of the recall, and one never wants to create a bad habit that one will later have to change for habits are by nature hard to break and we never want to break a dog.
Some Gundog people worry that teaching the sit
from an early age in any form will supress a dog, this is not the case if taught with kindness/treats/vocal praise. I teach my girls the obedience side of Gundog training with all three of the above for one wants the dog to have a reward for the correct actions, it encourages the dog to do what otherwise would/could seem boring work. The dog gets a reward for the retrieving work and that is the retrieve, so why should it not get a reward for other work.
Sit while balls are thrown
When teaching a dog to retrieve I will hold the pup and throw the ball out and then release the pup, and as time goes on the pup/dog will be on lead while the ball is thrown out and then off the lead while the ball is thrown so that the dog never expects to run in after the ball until released by command or action, which sets the ground work up for the next step in the Stop. I would have also incorporated the whistle during this time.
Once the sit is good and steady and the training is coming along, I will start to ask the dog to sit and then put myself in a place in-between the dog and the ball I am about to gently throw and once that ball is thrown I will go and pick the ball up and go back to the dog and praise, and that praise can be voice action or even treats as you are praising for the sit as the retrieve has not yet happened, and whatever reward one uses you must make it clear in whatever way suits you and your dog that the dog has done exactly what you asked. Do not bore the dog with this in anyway, do it two or three times and then do something else, I stand
by the dog and throw the ball in and then allow the dog to go and get the ball.
If the dog goes wrong, just use your voice to let the dog know it has gone wrong, but not to aggressively for you do not want to put the dog of retrieving and because you don't want to use your really annoyed voice until the dog is older and possibly on live game.
I did use to run after the dog as well, the action of the running lets the dog know it has obviously done wrong (as you know I do not physically correct my dog as some would do once they had caught up with the dog) but even the action of myself just gently running in I have stopped. I stopped that under instruction of one of the wise ones, for even the running in can put a dog off and/or confuse the dog, and the voice has let the dog know it has done wrong. If the dog goes wrong it is your job to make sure the dog doesn't go wrong again by setting the exercise up better and making it more clear to the dog what you want, so that this time the dog may get the praise and therefore can see the difference from when the dog got it wrong and when the dog got it right. Make sure that reward, whatever it may be, is a clear reward, no mumbling 'well done' or even saying 'Good boy' in a boring flat tone, that dog wants and has earned your praise and therefore you should reward it with a happy and pleased verbal praise/treat/cuddle or all three.
The Throw Past
This is next step in the stop, and to begin with you will need your dog on the lead for you will be throwing balls past your dogs nose and asking for the sit by verbal and or whistle command. The aim that you are walking with the dog on lead by your side when without your dog knowing you throw a ball low to the ground past your dog, whereupon you ask for the sit, and you do this until the dog automatically sit without a command. Now again ,as for the rest of the steps, you do not want to bore your dog and you want to make sure your dog gets plenty of praise for doing what you ask it to do. You progress to walking with the dog on a loose lead and throwing the ball as you and the dog are moving, again aiming for the dog to start automatically stopping when the ball goes past. Then one progress to moving around with the dog off lead, trying to get a little distance between you and the dog before throwing the ball low and past the dog on the ground. Your goal is to have the dog hunting in front of you whereupon you throw the ball low and past the dog and the dog stops automatically without any command.
Throughout you have never let the dog retrieve that ball.
You have praised for the sit, and then picking that ball up walked to the side of the dog where you thrown another ball out for the dogs reward and release. This action also becomes clear in the dogs mind that when it hunts and something shoots past it the dog sits, and when the dog is by your side and something falls out of the sky it goes and retrieves it, which is exactly what you want it to do on shoot in both examples.
Praise, Do not Bore, Do not use correction, and make you requests clear.
|Posted on August 20, 2017 at 5:35 AM||comments (87)|
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|Posted on June 12, 2017 at 11:07 AM||comments (85)|
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|Posted on March 15, 2017 at 12:20 PM||comments (81)|
His son had just got a Springer spaniel pup and he wanted to set off on the right foot, so-to-speak.
I think they can be good, in fact group training throughout the dogs life can be great fun and an excellent way to meet like minded people, just remember a few things along the way as you pass up the stages.
The vet Introduction classes
I remember our Vets puppy classes for our springers, they were run by our loop fruit friend (sadly lost to us now) at the local vets. For the pups it was their first time, and for a little one this new experience can be quite a scary one.
Do not let the bigger dogs jump all over your pup, not even those demon yappers who seem fearless while your little pup is tucked under your feet hiding, and if that great bounding chocolate lab wants to play with your pup and is trying to get under the chair to do so, gently stop him from doing so, and don't feel guilty for all dogs are different and if your dog doesn't want to join in then there is nothing wrong with that at all. What you don't want is for him to have a bad experience and be put of other dogs, so help him until he is ready and be his protector until he is ready. You don't want your puppy to be pushed and shoved about no matter how playfully the other pup may seem nor how nice the owner of said pup may be, that isn't a great introduction to the big world, but watching that big world from the safety of behind your owners legs until you are ready to come out and join them, well that's not so scary!
The next stage, is possibly going down the kennel club route, going for their certificates, and I have to say the Puppy certificates are really cute, sad of me I know but they are Pink after all, he he he!
Now this may be the first time you are looking for a trainer, so
what do you look for?
Look on the web, not necessarily on the Trainers own web site/you tube channel, for on those channels you will just get the comments from his/her friends and people who believe the same as them. Pop into the browser the trainers Name and Kennel name if they have one, to review the comments from people who are no longer going to them, and if there is any who have had bad experiences with that trainer. If they are mild dislikes you may decide to continue the check via looking at the trainers web site (if they have one) or even sit in on a lesson or have a one to one lesson with the person to see what the trainer is like, and how you get on with them. If they have bad reviews, and more than one, look for someone else. Never at any point be afraid to change trainers
Example... My first Gundog trainer went around the game shows doing displays, his displays were of a trainer who only trained with kindness and that is what he did for the first level of the training, but then when we moved up the groups it changed, he started to show how he disciplined dogs by hitting them and even kicking them, that is when I left.
If I saw a trainer hitting a dog in training classes and/or allowing others in the class to hit their dogs, I would quietly take video evidence with my mobile phone with no one wise to why I was taking that footage, leave the class as normal and send the evidence to the RSPCA. Sometimes the RSPCA have to build a case, and therefore if everyone who came across that bad trainer did take footage and sent it into them they could build a case that showed this continual method of training cruelty. If we all did that it would mean slowly the bad trainers would be thinned out, trainers who us punishment as a tool are not good trainers, especially when they cannot even train to a high standard when using those bad methods. And if someone asked you for your opinion on that trainer you can show them the video so that they can make their mind up on whether to use that trainer or not!
A friend of mine stayed with the trainer I first went to for longer, and to a degree was became desensitized to what that trainer and group did to their dogs, she didn't want to leave the group and lose all the friends that she had made there, there were some lovely people there (some right nasty ones) and neither of us wanted to lose them, but I couldn't stand by and watch their methods.
'So, Never stay with a trainer who turns out to be something you did not realize, and never be pushed into doing something to your dog that you know in your heart is not right. Thankfully all my other trainers have been totally different.
You need an understanding trainer.
You do want a trainer who will respect you if you wish to 'not' follow his or her every instruction
Example = When I went to obedience classes with my Springers, I never wanted to recall them from a sit as I wanted them rock steady for their gundog work, and the trainers I went to always respected that fact when I explained why. For the kennel club tests I had to recall them, but that was a one off, far better a one-off then actually doing a recall every week in the class, for one wants to create Good habits not bad habits as habits are hard to break so don't create ones you will have too break.
Another example was when one of my gundog trainers suggested tweaking Jay jays ears, she had been off training for months (when I had a nasty fall down the stairs) and therefore she needed tightening back up. The trainer was convinced that if I didn't tweak her ears I wouldn't get her back under control, and I said to him that 'I wouldn't tweak her ears but that I believed when next I come back Jay Jay would be back under control once again' ..... She was, and he had to admit that she was, and thankfully he never pushed his view of that type of training on me, which I was grateful for.
Everyone has a different amount of correction that they will give a dog, a tweak or taking it back to the spot etc, thankfully if we chose not to do those things (which I chose not to do) that is fine, well very fine actually, but hitting a dog tormenting a dog for a behavior it has done wrong is in no way acceptable, that is to far and is punishment and unnecessary punishment at that.
Does the trainer need Qualifications
In my opinion No, some trainers who have been absolutely fabulous have had no qualifications at all, they need to know what they are doing and that you will only find out by word of mouth and your own experience as time passes with them. The same goes for qualified people for the deciding factor is can they teach dogs and can they teach humans not can they retain facts from a book.
Remember, do not go to any trainer who hits a dog as a training method, even if it is just for 5% of the time. Some trainers will give some form of telling off, and that's fine as long as they leave you to decide whether you wish to follow, but hitting should not be expectable and/or causing stress and pain to a dog, At All, those trainers aren't good enough to teach YOU!
Have great fun with your pup, train a little and often, and all will be well!
|Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:44 AM||comments (42)|
So wonderful Bella who is thirteen very soon, decided to chew a towel, thirteen years old and she reverts to puppy hood, bless the cheeky toe rag. Anyway, when the vets opened her to remove the towel, they sadly found legions and nodules all over her liver, cancer. They phoned me while she was on the table, they wanted to inform me about what they had found and to see if I therefore wanted them to still go ahead with the surgery even though she may have not recovered from the surgery, and even if she did she may not have had long with us or may only be with us for a few months, I of course said for them to continue.
She is three weeks on and doing so well, she has healed wonderfully thanks to the very good stich work by the vet, an excellent vet called Wendy in Nithvalley surgery, Thornhill. Bella has no outward signs of the cancer as yet, and at her age may never show signs of it for it is hopefully a very slow growing (very very slow growing) one and dogs can cope with only 30% of liver function, so we are hopeful.
At the moment Bella is more like a puppy than a thirteen year old, so fingers are crossed, and the plan is to forget the cancer but to make sure her body is as healthy as possible, especially her liver.
She has raw food every evening with the other girls, and in the morning they all have either porridge/cottage cheese mixed in with sardines in tomato juice/ or scramble egg. Bella wouldn't eat the cottage cheese without the tomato juice, she knows what she wants and we obey, he he he!
We are also going to be putting her onto Turmeric as we did Alfie, and later (if she needs it) a product that has milk thistle and more in it to help her.
She has been a Gem of a dog, so whatever keeps her puppy like we will happily provide.
Heck, she doesn't even look old yet, let alone thirteen.
|Posted on January 6, 2017 at 5:47 PM||comments (87)|
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|Posted on August 21, 2016 at 12:59 PM||comments (61)|
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|Posted on August 4, 2016 at 6:40 AM||comments (37)|
I wrote this piece below for the Video Clip section, but I thought I would share it here as well, well I do like to ramble, he he he!
The wonderful thing about a spaniel for working is,
when you have a spaniel by your side you need no other breed of dog next to you for they are the
Perfect All-rounder, and a super companion!
To work with a spaniel as a team, and to know that your teammate could be totally self employed and yet he choses to work with you, listening to you, well that is an experience that cannot be explained in words but is most certainly some form of Rush!
It is sheer bliss to have your dog working through the hedgerow and cover crop as if either were a row of cotton sheets hanging on washing lines blowing gently in the breeze on a wash day, and yet with the adrenalin of a toddler on Christmas morning buzzing through his body, and yet still he keeps one ear open in case you speak to him, an awareness to where you are in case you gesture something to him or change direction, for you and he have learnt over the years to read one another slightest movement, you have both learnt that when you work as a team Great fun is to be had, and What a Team you make!
It is not only your dog and yourself that are blessed by your partnership, but also the guns, and that matters that they benefit for on shoot you are all a circle and no one part is greater than the other, but without the Guns finances, that land those birds and even the beautiful wildlife that thrives in that environment, would not be there.
The Guns benefit greatly by a well trained dog, for you and your dog can work as a team pushing the birds out of the crop and into the air, like the flow of a stream that bubbles down its pathway flowing into all the little nooks and crannies exploring them on it's way creating little drop-off points for fish to rest. You and your dog need to flow through that cover crop/undergrowth at a pace that will give the pheasant ahead time to find the nook or cranny to rest, whereupon your dog will find it and flush it straight into the air... all this done at a pace that does not make the pheasant go into a frenzy and rush straight down through the cover crop to the end of it to fly in one all mighty crescendo with the other pheasants, or enable it to loop behind you. This flow gives the gun time to reload and aim with accuracy again and again and again, instead of that almighty crescendo that gives him no time to reload or aim with accuracy, for that makes a possible fabulous drive turn into a complete loss for the guns, and that is not what we want to happen.
There is always part of me that hopes the guns miss, but I am a meat eater, the pheasants live a free life and are supplemented through nasty weather by the game keepers/shoot, heck the humans even create places were the pheasants can shelter, and if we beaters and pickers-up do our job properly and the guns give the respect to the birds by not making stupid shots, then we have done ok!
And I suppose that is what Gamekeepers, Guns, Landowners, beaters, and Pickers-up all should aim for, and I would hope most do
To respect the animals, make their lives good and give a clean kill as possible, protecting and respecting the wildlife and countryside around. NOT beating our dogs (hitting/discipline whatever you call it to soften the sound of the act) in the name of training, killing birds of prey, or treating our woodlands as if there will be no next generation. That behaviour isn't for people who truly love nature or dogs or the environment. And if you love all three, well stop protecting those that do not with your continual silence for those people/acts are the ones that people outside the sport see and tar all of us with that same brush. Stand up for what was passed down to us, and what we should now be guardians off, for our forefathers understand the land and mother nature and respected it, machines' have enclosed us of from it to a degree, yet us who walk/work the land on foot tread the same path and should respect all of mother nature and her animals, let us either leave it as those forefathers would want or improve the land and the wildlife for the next generations.
I hope these videos help you, and shows you that dogs can be trained with Love and common sense and with no need or right to use physical violence!
When your dog is trained and ready to go on shoot with you, I hope you find a shoot with the same principals as I and many others have, and that many wonderful winter days follow from it!
|Posted on July 31, 2016 at 3:07 PM||comments (516)|
This month I have been teaching Tinks Left & Right by movement and verbal command. This month I have also taught Jay-Jay the verbal command of 'Left' & 'Right' as previously she only had one verbal command for going right or left depending on which arm movement I made. As you can see they are doing well, and only with 3-4 short very lessons a week.
So I am very pleased with them, they have listened well and had fun.
To teach dogs Left and right by arm command gives the dog a greater chance of getting the retrieve, and we need that to enable a fast retrieve of any game we send the dog for, especially if you know where it lays but the dog does not.
If your dog just know the command 'Out' followed by just a throw of the hand and no clear Right or Left movement from you, you limit yourself and thereby you limit the dog, and you may have to give far more arm throws and 'Get Out' commands to get the dog into the same spot than a dog with a good straight Out-run and a sharp stop to the whistle with a then silent left or right arm command. Makes sense doesn't it, after all imagine yourself shouting 'Get out, Get out...' on shoot day when the dog has been sent for a blind and is only guided by throwing of the arms and your shouting at it that command, compare that to the far more silent option which has far more accuracy!
Now I am Lucky in that Jay-Jay will do a Meerkat when she is unable to see me or when she needs to do it to mark the fall of the game, and she does it without moving forwards or backwards just upwards, which most Judges and trainers love as it shows brains for starters and an ability to mark game the sitting down dog (or if you beat it) the lying flat dog would not see, and therefore Jay will see the bird land and get to the fall. But, if your dog doesn't do the meerkat impersonation or cannot because of the environment it is in, well then that 'Left' or 'Right' command could come in very handy. Now it won't be needed all the time as your dog will often see many falls, or will see you (maybe you need to move a tad if you can to enable that), but there are those times it will be greatly useful.
The you tube clip below shows you Tinks and Jay-jay as they are taught these new commands by myself over this month of July.
To teach Tinks the Left & Right direction command via body and language, I broke it down for her and started by teaching her just the body Language when I sent her for a 'Back retrieve'.
This I did by sitting her directly in front of me at an angle that would make her want to go the way I wished her to, as you can see in the video it worked a treat.
You only need to sit the dog at an angle while the dog is starting to learn this new command. When teaching a dog something new one should always set the dog up in way that aids the dog, once taught it's a different matter .
Now both girls have been previously taught, to varying degrees, to run straight lines left and right by my making a clear and straight movement with either right or left arm and a vocal command 'Out', not a throw away arm movement that just sends the dog in a wide section to either side, but a clear signal for a straight line.
But now of course they are learning the vocal commands 'Left' or 'Right' and that is learnt through repetition. Of course as far as the dogs are concerned Left and right could be called 'Fish' & 'Chips', as long as you always use the same word for the same direction. Because they know the arm movement I can just put the new word with the move, and repetition will lock it into their memory bank.
I then add temptation by throwing a beloved ball over Tinks head to land behind her, then asking her to go either right or left for a dummy instead of going for her ball, and if she got it wrong, the most she would get is a verbal 'Ahhh', which seems really loud on the video but that was only because my mouth is very close to the mobile. Always remember to praise for the stops, the stops must be praised as you want the sits to be well and truly locked into their memory, and locked in through only good memories.
I am lucky enough to then be able to add another dog (Jay Jay) into the mix for Tinks, it helps Jay-jay to learn patience so its a win win, even more temptation to for them both, and when I think I can I ask them to cross one another for a retrieve I do, this asking really demanding high concentration of them.
The video is a mixture of mobile video and camera video so please forgive.
As always, no dog was Hit at any point, it isn't needed, whether you gloss it up by calling the hitting of ones dog 'Correction/redirecton' or any other name, it is Not Needed and shouldn't be done. Learn to teach a dog with kindness, as many of us do, OR don't teach, for no dog deserves it!