Posts Tagged ‘Labrador’

Interior shot at Cheyenne Ridge Signature Lodge … location for our “Take Your Kid Hunting” episode.

You want variety, you got it! With the conclusion of the Olympics, Wingshooting USA returns to NBC Sports Fridays, 10 a.m. Eastern time. Many of you can now watch two different episodes each week.

This week, here is the program lineup:

Pursuit: Dish Network (Ch. 240 “HUNT” on the program guide) and DirecTV (Ch. 604 “PRST” on program guide). Wingshooting USA will air Monday 7:00 p.m.,  Monday 6:30 a.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. Eastern. This episode airs on all the other networks as well:

A father-daughter team join Scott at Cheyenne Ridge Signature Lodge in South Dakota where a youngster named Hunter lives up to her moniker. Hunter downs her first ringneck and her experience should serve as inspiration for every hunting parent.

And on NBC Sports Group, Fridays 10 a.m. (Eastern)

Crops, shelterbelts and surrounding scrub at Western Wings preserve in Idaho challenge a mother-daughter brace of Labs. It’s rough-and-tumble hunting in the shadow of dramatic mountains flanking Yellowstone National Park.

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What if it had been YOUR dog?

“Blood is thicker than water.” Most agree with this axiom that rationalizes and informs many family/society conflicts. But what would you do in this case, involving a dog, a street, and well, you’ll see.

We were motoring home, Christmas tree atop the truck and groceries inside. The driver in front of us swerved to avoid a Lab that was digging, panting, and looking generally confused alongside our rural road. Karen asked if we should stop, but I was already unbuckling the seatbelt. The dog stopped her digging, tongue lolling as she eagerly came to my call.

The owner’s phone number was on the collar, and I was dialing as Karen found a leash in the truck. The owner answered on the second ring. She was 130 miles away. Apparently, a fence had been breached, rope bitten through or housesitter had dropped the ball … maybe all three, she suggested. I asked where she lived; only a mile or so away. Upon description of her place, I knew it immediately. The domicile of an arch political enemy I’d battled at county commission meetings, planning workshops and other venues when they’d tried to back-door a major commercial development in our rural neighborhood.

Now what? Turn the dog loose to fend for herself in traffic, among the coyotes? Tell the owner who I was, to stuff it, and “good luck?” Hold the pooch for ransom? Or remember this was about the dog’s safety and welfare and turn the other cheek, so to speak.

When we left, Jazz was safely back in her garage-kennel and all gates were secure. Maybe it was the Christmas tree, working it’s magic already. Or canine blood being thicker than bad blood.


I wonder if the tree had an ameliorating affect

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You want me to HOLD it, too?

Buddy: "Hold it!"

Once Buddy is solid on retrieving and holding a bird or bumper, it will be a matter of extending that hold indefinitely. Again, this is critical in almost every hunt test or field trial situation but more importantly in the field. Wing-clipped birds are highly motivated to scoot away given the chance, when a dog puts it down before the handler has his hands on it.

So, how have Buddy and I worked through this? Well, we are making progress. And as I said in an earlier post, it’s often more a test of my will than Buddy’s.

I have to resist giving the release command too soon, trying to pre-empt Buddy from a dropped bird. If he beats me, I give it back without repeating the retrieve command.

He’s to the point where when he drops early, a stink-eye look from me is enough to clue him into picking up again. I move away to encourage the pickup and a completed retrieve.

When Buddy is holding well, it’s my job to help by minimizing distractions or confusion. Confusion comes in many forms: leaning forward, premature praise (even reaching into the pocket I hide treats in), reaching for the bird, extending a hand, even if to praise with a stroke.

Instead, I’m using gestures to encourage holding, and distract Buddy from releasing until he hears that command. I will back up slowly, so he never knows when the retrieve is actually completed. I stand up straight, show empty hands (no treats, keep your mouth closed on the bird). I’ll wave one hand high to keep his head up (encourages holding). The other hand is ready below Buddy’s mouth for a surprise “thanks” when he least expects it.

I know professional dog trainers have other techniques, from toe pinch to e-collar “stimulation,” but I’m inclined to distance a bird in the mouth from any pain, emotional or physical

To this point, the jury’s still out. We’re getting closer by the day and that’s pretty good for us.

How about you? Especially when it’s time to “just add water,” and get a dog to hold once he’s emerged from a pond. Any suggestions?

Hey, some great shorthair-Lab tag team work at this excerpt from my show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSQ5OyCCjW4

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