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Kerbside Gundog training.

Kerbside Gundog training.

Postby Trekmoor » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:57 am

I wrote this mainly to pass the time coz I jiggered my back a few weeks ago and haven't been out much. So....if you get bored easily stop reading now ! :lol:

Back in the spring I bought myself a lab pup on the cheap because she was the result of an accidental mating between two well bred labs that weren't intended to "meet !" She is the first lab I've owned for about 30 years although I used to be a "lab man." My thoughts when buying her were that I wouldn't have to do as much walking while training her as I do with pointing dogs or with spaniels...... I tire and get very breathless quickly nowadays.

She was a typical lab pup....plenty of retrieve in her and plenty of "nonsense" too. When I first let her loose outside the confines of the garden I quickly discovered she was very independently minded as she would not return to me. She just took off into the little strip of woods behind my house following her nose on the squirrels and the occasional wandering cat. I was in trouble ! I sort of expect pointing dog pups to be independently minded but not a lab.

I tried the old trick of hiding from her or of walking away from her line of travel, neither worked on her , she just kept going wherever she was heading for. Her lack of "focus" on me was a real concern. A change of my usual tactics was in order and I went back to training her to recall first in the house, then in the garden and then out on the roadway of the quiet little cul-de-sac I live in . There was far less to interest her there so because I was just about the only fun to be had she very gradually began to give me some focus.

Basically, it was her strong desire to grab dummies of any kind that kept her from taking off into the sunset ....and I had the dummies ! Her interest in dummies really only extended to running - in to grab them though, returning with them and actually delivering them was still a big problem. I tried to solve this using treats, she is a typical greedy lab, but me and treats and retrieving don't always get on well .....she began to drop dummies in expectation of a treat.

This was "cured" back inside my garden with me either sitting on the steps of my house or sitting on a chair to receive the dummies. She quickly got the idea that a dropped dummy was the end of the fun so she held onto them again. Run-pasts with the dummies had also been a problem out on the road but with the house door at my back or the garden fence that became impossible and the pup began to deliver to hand. That was the start of me being able to give physical as well as vocal praise to her when retrieving and she liked that very much.

Nowadays I often go dizzy when I bend and taking a dummy from a pup is a real effort for me so while sitting on the house steps or on a chair out in the garden , I began to encourage her to put her paws up on me and deliver dummies "to my face." That got her more physical and verbal praise and she liked that. With that in place I moved back out onto the road again and took a chair with me.

She did her deliveries to me as I sat on the chair so I stopped using the chair and substituted it with a high wooden garden fence I could sort of put my back to in an almost sitting position. She did her "jump up" delivery as I leaned back against the fence. I now began to ease my way up the fence while taking dummies from her until I could stand totally upright when receiving them from her.

I was happy ....but not for long ! She was getting a bit bored with the "Kerbside Gundog" stuff so she began to take the dummies for detours around the neighbours parked cars before returning to me. I cannot move either fast or far now so I was unable to quickly stop this .....just shouting at her would have done no good, I might have ended up throwing out the baby along with the bathwater !
A checkcord is something I very seldom use but I used one on her ....she isn't a "softy." That got her back to focusing on me and the problem ceased to exist after only two or three little sessions with the check cord on her.

I still had not taught her to sit to voice or whistle in the garden or on the road but she would sit in the house for her meals, I took the food outside and fed her there ....if she sat quickly. That worked fine so I substituted dummy throws for the food . This meant she would sit but would still run in for every dummy thrown. I didn't worry much about that , she was still only about 5 months old. I don't usually train pups to stop until they have trained themselves to "go." I began blowing the sit when she was moving around a few feet away from me and then throwing the dummy, that worked fine too .... a fast stop/sit got her a fast dummy throw . She was soon watching me very carefully ready to sit almost as soon as the whistle touched my mouth.

I didn't extend the stop/sits to much more than maybe twenty feet because if she had not sat there wouldn't have been much I could do about it ....not quickly anyway ! It was at about this point in time that I began to notice a considerable change in her. She was now focusing very strongly on me and had a look about her that said "train me, I'm enjoying this !" She was now about 5-6 months old.

I always found heelwork a doddle to train but that was when I could walk and talk at the same time ! I can't train in that way now and I can't use a lead properly either, I now have spondylitis which has just about wasted my shoulders and arms. I had to modify my heel training methods . I discarded the lead completely and relied on her newly found "focus" to train her the heelwork ....again just out on the road right in front of my house. I walked in small squares about the size of a car while always turning either right or right-about-turn. Doing this makes a dog think about moving with you and "into" you .....doing left turns too soon can make it think of moving away from you .

This worked very well and she was soon doing almost perfect off-lead heelwork . I soon discovered that she was very willing to perform the so called "automatic sit" whenever I stopped walking if I gave her an occasional reward in the form of a dummy throw when she sat.

By now, to prevent her becoming very bored with all this Kerbside Gundog stuff, I was taking her into quite thick woodlands sometimes on her own and sometimes in company with my spaniels. I did some more stop/sit to whistle stuff inside the woods and possibly because my spaniels stopped to the whistle , she did too at about spaniel hunting ranges..... maybe 10 -15 yards ? It's British spaniel hunting ranges I'm talking about here ! :lol:

Her retrieving inside the woods was very good at the short distances that I can throw but she was still running -in .....just ask my spaniels ! I could hardly get them a retrieve that she didn't get to first ! I had her doing not only marked retrieves but also memory retrieves inside the woods of up to maybe 40 -50 yards through some quite thick cover with a bit of rabbit and squirrel scent on the ground. Everything was going well so I moved back onto the road to begin her steadiness training.

That was not easy to achieve. She had ran -in for every dummy she had ever seen ! I worked on it and did achieve a certain amount of success but it was far from being 100% steadiness. I put a checkcord back on her and tried again with mixed results. I am not very adroit in the use of checkcords. Eventually I reached the stage where she was ....usually....steady to one dummy but two dummies was a bit too much most times and I had discarded the check cord after achieving some steadiness to one dummy.

I never did get that problem completely sorted as I simply could not move fast enough to prevent her running-in. Nevertheless I kept on trying and even added another dog to the mix. She didn't like that so I put a lead on her and made her just sit and watch as the other dog retrieved some of the dummies. Doing that did eventually help a bit but she still did an occasional run-in.

At about this time (7 months old) I was given grouse by a friend and used them as cold game retrieves. She'd never even seen a feather never mind a game bird but she instantly picked up the grouse with a good body hold and retrieved them in her usual, by now, jump up on me to deliver style. I was pretty happy with her but I knew that her heelwork needed to be done for longer distances than I could walk and I knew her steadiness needed quite a bit of work too because when she "went" I could not catch her !

A friend down in England who has spaniels offered to take her for a couple of weeks for training. He is young (by my standards anyway :lol: ) and he is fast moving so I handed her over to him. I told him not to accept the usual spaniel standards of heelwork and gave him a quick demo of her off lead heelwork .....again done out on the road right in front of my house....and he promised to try to train lab standard heelwork rather than the spaniel stuff.

Within two days he had her walking at heel off lead for considerable distances his spaniels hunted right in front of her ! He also got on her case very quickly when she tried to run-in and made her much steadier. He said her focus is terrific , she constantly watches for any hint of a command to do anything ....even to walk to heel . I got her back a few days ago along with a glowing report on her doings. He gave me a short demo with her and his spaniels in a local park and sure enough her heelwork was very good even with the spaniels charging around .

Then he released her from heel to play with the spaniels in order to demo that she would now stop/sit fast to whistle when up to about 40 yards out from him. While she sat out there along with the spaniels he tossed dummies around and designated by name which dog was to retrieve them. He did the spaniels first and Ghillie the lab pup still just sat out there watching and waiting for her turn. It was pleasing to watch and it goes to show what young human legs can achieve in a short period of time ! :lol:

He'd given her a road kill male pheasant to retrieve while he had her and she picked it up instantly and did her usual "jump up " delivery with it. She , it seems, will retrieve just about anything !

The same day as I got her back my wife discovered she had started to come into season . I have 3 male spaniels here and they began to play "All aboard the Skylark" with her ! I handed her over to the man who owns her granny who said he'd continue her training while keeping her through her season. He contacted me the very next day to tell me she'd been walked to heel with his labs for about a mile and had done it well. He'd also released her to play with his labs in a big, grassy field where, when he blew stop on his dogs at about 200 yards, she had at once stopped and sat too !

After that he kept the stop whistles a bit closer in because he isn't exactly young either and he didn't fancy running out to make her sit if she failed to at 200 yards !

I get her back again in about two weeks time ....just in time to take her picking-up ! She'll be 9 months old by then and I think she'll be a pretty good bitch .....if not it will be back to my Kerbside Gundog Training club ! :lol:

If anyone read right through all that stuff ....thanks ! It passed some time for me as a one fingered typist !

Bill T.
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Re: Kerbside Gundog training.

Postby ezzy333 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:35 am

Great piece Bill. Fun getting old, isn't it. I just keep reminding myself getting old is better than the alternative so every morning I check to see if I am on the greenside of the grass and then thank God for another beautiful day here on Planet Earth and giving me the ability as well as the opportunity to enjoy it.
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Re: Kerbside Gundog training.

Postby gundogguy » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:33 am

Wonderful Bill, Your passion for dogs and their development is inspirational! Not only taking on a rambunctious Lab pup. But still looking to to buy green bananas's Best of fortunes with your new charge..
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Re: Kerbside Gundog training.

Postby crackerd » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:54 am

Bill, rather than an accidental breeding, sounds rather like you got yourself a 'Merican performance Lab who stowed away on a tramp steamer then jumped ship in the Firth of Clyde and made her way to the brae. Hmm, just checked, though, and my little hellion that fits your description is still "onsite." :wink:

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Re: Kerbside Gundog training.

Postby Trekmoor » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:08 am

Mike if my info is correct one of her cousins has just won a Two Day Open trial here on it's first attempt. I met that dog when he was a puppy and what I noticed was how "laid back" he was while waiting to retrieve pup is nuffin like that ! :lol:

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Re: Kerbside Gundog training.

Postby deseeker » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:47 pm

Trekmoor, nice post :D
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