As a professional trainer, I’m always working with several dogs and want to make the most of my time with each. Whenever I interact with one—whether in the kennel, at feeding time, on the way to the truck or loading into the dog box—I try to teach the dog something.
These little snippets of time I call “training moments.” It’s amazing what can be accomplished.
Every dog run has a wolf-size Nylabone Double Action Chew toy in its kennel run. When a dog likes to mouth or lick my hand, I pick up the chew toy and say “Fetch” as it grabs the toy or as I ease the toy into its mouth. I then lavish praise on the dog. Soon, when I come into their kennel run and say “Fetch,” the dog finds its chew toy and brings it to me. Several even anticipate my presence and pick up its chew toy whenever I’m close to its run. (Many dogs have actually learned “Fetch” this way.)
Don’t pull on leash
Day after day of many dogs pulling on the leash and jerking my arm led me to this idea. If a dog is straining against a lead, I stop and don’t move until it releases the pressure. This takes patience but it works.
Stay until released
It drives me crazy when I open a kennel door and a dog barges out. So I make the dog stay still until I say “All Right.” I open the door just a bit and when the dog makes a move, I shut it in their face. With a few repetitions, they remain until released.
“Kennel” command and treats
A dog of any age spends lots of time going into crates so why not make it a pleasant experience? Sure, you can shove it into the crate but it doesn’t learn anything. Rather, I entice the dog into the crate with treats. At first, I toss the treat into the crate, making sure the dog has smelled it and seen it. Then I lead it to the crate with a treat in my hand and only give the treat after it is in the crate. (Purina Pro Plan Sport Adult Training Treats in Chicken Breast flavor are perfect. They are easily ripped into smaller pieces, smell great and fit into a pocket.)
These training moments are easy, simple and don’t take much time. Be patient and consistent and you, too, will be amazed with the results.
Spring is a welcome season throughout snow-weary, northern parts of the country. It is true for all whether commuters, merchants or gardeners but perhaps it is even more so for sportsmen and women who own bird dogs and like to get them in the woods to match them against others during the spring field trial season.
Even though Jerry and I don’t compete as much, we anxiously await results of the various venues and are thrilled when others place—especially when the puppies, derbies and older dogs are out of our kennel. Equally exciting, though, is when winners are:
• owners who are new to field trials
• dogs that are older, experienced and much wiser
• dogs out of favorite pointer males
Tom Beauchamp of Fishers, Indiana, had never competed in a field trial but was keen to run his nine-month-old female setter puppy out of multiple grouse champion I’m Blue Gert by Northwoods Grits. As a practice run, Tom drove up to the Michigan Amateur Field Trial Club’s stakes held near Gladwin, Michigan, on April 3. It was well worth the effort for he earned an Honorable Mention.
That was merely a preamble, though, for the next weekend Tom headed to Marienville, Pennsylvania, where the 68th running of the Grand National Grouse Futurity Puppy Classic was held in the Allegheny National Forest. Eric Locher and top-notch veteran Dick Brenneman judged 28 puppies from which four placements were awarded.
How sensational for Tom and his puppy. He said, “What the hell. I just let her roll.”
2nd Grand National Grouse Futurity Puppy Classic
Northwoods Iron Maiden
(Northwoods Grits x CH I’m Blue Gert, 2014)
Owned and handled by Tom Beauchamp
The Minnesota Grouse Dog Association held the first of two weekend field trials beginning April 10. The stakes are always run in the Rum River State Forest near Mora. Several placements are especially noteworthy.
1st Open Derby
(Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2013)
Owned and handled by Randy Ott
1st Open Shooting Dog
Merimac’s Adda Girl
(CH Long Gone Nixon x Grouse River Princess, 2006. She’s 9!!)
Owned and handled by Ben McKean
1st Amateur Shooting Dog & 2nd Open Shooting Dog
Goodgoing Hannah Montana
(Dashaway x Goodgoing Elhew Moxie, 2007. She’s 8!!)
Co-owned and handled by Brett Edstrom
2nd Amateur Shooting Dog
Satin From Silk
(I’m Houston’s Image x Blue Silk, 2006. She’s 9, too!!)
Owned and handled by Greg Gress
3rd Open Puppy
(CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)
Owned and handled by Matt Forgit
Meanwhile, beginning April 11, the Minnesota Bird Hunters Association held their spring trial at Four Brooks Field Trials Grounds north of Milaca. Chuck Brandes entered his young female in two stakes and came away with two ribbons.
1st Open Gun Dog & 3rd Open Derby
Ridge Creek Pied Piper
(CH Ridge Creek Cody x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2013)
Owned and handled by Chuck Brandes
Puppy buyers often become fixated on their order of pick in a litter. Betsy and I know—first hand—that the last pick can be the best.
The first grouse champion we owned was bought sight unseen from Maine. Not only was our puppy the last pick but the breeder changed his mind during the process.
We were excited about that that litter—a repeat breeding of a top-notch female grouse dog, 5X CH Vanidestine’s Rail Lady, to a spectacular male, 2X CH/RU-CH Northern Dancer, trained and handled by fellow Minnesotan Jim Tande. Eddie Vanidestine first told us we were getting an orange-and-white female. We said, “Fine.” When he later called to tell us it would be a liver one, we again said, “Fine.”
Most of that litter went to grouse trialers and we never saw or heard anything about an orange-and-white female. But that liver puppy grew into our extraordinary 2X CH Dance Smartly and became the foundation of our pointer line, now four generations down.
It’s hard to believe how close we came to not having what would become our best setter ever. When we bred Blue Silk to Paul Hauge’s Houston in 2004, our first pick was based on looks—a gorgeous, tri-color male with a solid head. After two other males were chosen, one was left. He had a big, blocky head, a patch on one side of his head and a small spot over the other eye. We named our first choice Kobe and the leftover pup, Shaq.
The all-female litter out of Northwoods Prancer by CH Westfall’s Black Ice in 2011 left us with an evenly marked, black and white one with a spot at the base of her tail. Jeff Hintz, good friend, neighbor and training helper, took her. Jeff will tell you in a heartbeat that he will take last pick any day if it turns out to be as good as his precocious, smart, talented young champion, JTH Izzie.
In a previous post, How To Pick a Puppy, I wrote that the essential concepts are to: first, choose the right breeder and, second, choose the right litter. The pick order is the least important. It is impossible to definitely know what a puppy will become when it is eight weeks old.
Others agree. John Wick, breeder of hundreds of coonhounds, writes, “It is absolutely impossible at 8, 10, 12 weeks of age to pick out the best pup or pups, no matter who you are or what you know.”
Jerry and I recently heard from Mike, a friend and client from Minnesota. Mike has bought two setters from us— Beasley in 2011 and last year, Lucy.
“Tuesday afternoon I was driving home, talking to my wife Cynthia who was at home. All of sudden Cynthia was telling Lucy to drop something. When she reached, Lucy swallowed the rest of the mouse poison.
“Within 10 minutes I was home and had the vet on the phone. Per the vet’s instructions I gave her hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Within 5 minutes Lucy did and there was a lot of poison in her.”
Inducing vomiting in a dog is an extremely valuable medical skill and, fortunately, it’s relatively easy to do.
1. Have these two supplies on hand:
• 3% hydrogen peroxide
• syringe (without needle) or turkey baster
2. Fill the syringe or baster with straight hydrogen peroxide at the dosage of 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of dog weight. (One teaspoon equals 5 cc or 5 ml.)
3. Squirt into the back of the dog’s mouth.
4. Wait 15 minutes. If the dog hasn’t vomited, the dosage can be repeated once.
Due to quick thinking and action by Mike and Cynthia, Lucy is recovering. Last week, they took her back to their vet for a re-check.
“She is good! We will be giving vitamin K for the next 30 days to help her blood clot. They do want us to keep her quiet for a month. That will be a challenge!!”