Pritchard and I were abject failures at our Flushing Dog Seminar this past weekend. I didn’t really know upland from Disney Land, and Pritch took a liking to the taste of Chukar…she was nicknamed Crusher. We have a load of work to do. (For the record, that very cool photo of Pritch in action was taken by trainer and photographer, Pam Kadlec.
But spend three days in the company of two of the finest trainers in the country, Ray Cacchio and Fred Bradley, and you’ll learn more than a library full of books and DVDs can teach you. Here are five general pointers I took away from the session that every amateur can use whether you’re teaching upland or waterfowl or just want a damn good dog.
It’s Basic, Baby: We said it here before on MBF, but you can’t expect anything from your dog unless you have laid down the basic foundation of obedience. Practically all dogs will Sit. But will your dog Sit and remain there until you release it? Even if you go around the corner and drink a Coke? Does your dog ever put the slightest bit of pressure on the lead while at Heel, even if a squirrel runs across your path?
Just Shut Up:** After listening to myself and about 15 other trainers work their dogs I can tell you we all talk too much. If your dog knows what is expected of it give a command ONCE. Not only does the dog become numb to the commands when they are repeated it typically gets confused because we all utter the wrong words as they spill out of our mouths. And speaking of talking too much…
Save Your Voice: Too many of us in the seminar raised our voice to the highest level to cure minor infractions. Keep your strongest voice for when you truly need it.
No I in We: You and the dog are a team. Both of you need to understand this before any good can happen in the field. If your dog is not cognizant of you and you’re not aware of your dog then take up lawn darts. Sounds easy. It’s not. You need eye contact from the dog and when you get it you must be ready to deliver instruction if needed. But both of you should be on the lookout for each other.
Break All of the Above Rules:** I know this sounds like an easy way out, but dog training is not a defined set of challenges. The permutations of possible training scenarios and problems are endless. You need to think on your feet and do what’s right for the team. Stay flexible, but always enjoy it.
I’ll have more on this seminar in the future, but for now Pritch and I need to get to work.