Tuesday, March 18, 2008

training updates

Here's a picture I wasn't sure I'd be taking so soon -- but this is from this morning. Momo and I have been going out every couple of days to build up on his retrieve skills and keep things fresh and fun. He's doing great. The one challenge we've had is that deep-frozen chukar don't smell a lot so if he doesn't quite mark it down visually, he gets a little unsure of himself and needs reassurance to keep going out for the bird.

It's been very interesting working through this with him, in part because (and I'm sure this was how he and Momo defined their relationship) Bob was concerned that when Momo was blinking on the retrieve with me down at Cliffside, he saw that as a refusal/dominance issue -- but which I now, and while I defered to Bob's significant experience then, see as an insecurity issue. Because of my prior relationship with Momo, he seems to be working happily for me with reassurance rather than compulsion. Having said that, if Bob hadn't force-fetched him, I wouldn't be able to write this. Hopefully there'll be a lot more pictures like this.

Bill at the Black & Tan Bombshell has a few observations on 'breaking' dogs -- and for those interested in the low/no force, 'natural' training technique I would strongly recommend reading a couple of books you can see rotate through my MyLibrary widget: Ben William's Bird Dog and Joan Bailey's How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves.

Neil has a few reflections of his own on the way we personify our relationships with our dogs -- and it's always interesting to see that Momo and his mother really do appear to have some very similar personality traits. For anyone considering agility for their vizslas, it looks like Lael + Neil are in it for the long haul... so keep an eye out.

Looks like Rocket, too, might be about to get some agility training.


Rio Rocket said...

What a good boy Momo! I'm tossin two cyber treats your way!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a hunter (at least not anymore) but I 'force fetch' all of my dogs.

I think the ideas of force, pressure, stress and compulsion have been unfairly demonized in today's fashion of 'purely positive' dog training. And this has not been good for dogs.

Force and pressure are relative terms. IMO ,we only get into trouble when we go too far with them.

My young pup, a 10-month old English Shepherd, has gone through the force fetch process for the most part with little more 'force' than a soft verbal correction and lowering of my eyebrows. However, as we progress with more complex work, I'll use an ecollar - and the pressure I'll apply with it will not be much more than what I did with my voice.

A kind heart, loving hands and watchful eyes are the keys to successful dog training. The rest is just window dressing.

Andrew Campbell said...

Rocket: Momo also appreciates a good vibe being thrown his way, thanks!

Mark + Janeen: I left a similar comment with Bill at the B&TBombshell. I have far less experience than either of you with training dogs -- and so I say the following as much as a consumer as anything else. My impression is that a lot of dog-training appears to be bi-polar (in a statistical sense): either 'purely positive' or else rushing to results by using technology like e-collars -- the latter of which is easily screwed up by someone with no experience looking for a quick fix. I feel grateful that I didn't toast Momo as we figured out that tool. At least for a bird-dog, I'd add a check-cord and say that most people will have 95% of what they and their dog will need.