Wednesday, February 4, 2009

yet more training

If folks are sensing a theme, you'd be correct. All I know is that if you have a nice day and relatively easy access to birds, then it's time to get out and take the vizslak training.

I'll keep it brief. Before going up, I had debated whether or not to put the limiters on the chukar we'd use because it seemed to make Jozsi a little less intense when we came back around to a bird we'd worked before. But I figured that I'd use the limiters just once and that way still be able to use the birds for The Mominator. I also took care to store the limiters in the bird-bag (to try and mask their smell with whatever residual bird scent there might be) and once I had found a spot for each bird to go, placed the limiter in first and lightly covered it with the nice, dry snow we had.

Interestingly, while he bumped the first bird and performed a nice stop-to-flush, Jozsi set up nice points on the next two birds and stood still through the entire flush. I had read on a bulletin board about Bill Gibbons (whose Magma Birddogs is permanently on my blog-roll) stressing the importance of the trainer's hands, even literally the sensation of the trainer's hands, when working your dog -- and I have been making a point of running my bare hands down Jozsi's back when he's standing tall, both before and after the flush, to let him know that I love what he's doing. And whether a result of regular training or not wearing gloves, he's been standing more consistently after the flush and letting me collar him up without fuss before sending him on for the next bird.

What was interesting about his run was that I had set up the three birds along a mile or so loop and as we came back down after the third bird, I realised he had gone to find the first bird all over again. And was standing tall behind a snowdrift with the bird in plain sight. So, I flushed it again. I think he's getting it. The picture is from the third bird -- as you can see he's got a nice, high style.

I gathered up all three birds, untethered them, and put them out in a different field for The Mominator. He got close to the first bird which had decided it didn't like where I had put it and was walking around in some trampled corn stalks. I'm not sure if it was my noise humping through the snow, or the bird seeing just how close Momo was coming, but it got up before he had set himself (and about 15' from where he was) and so he got to practice his stop-to-flush. The next bird was textbook and he's doing well with just one simple 'stay' as I move up in front of him. The third bird almost got away because I am an idiot... and had left the safety catch on and ended up with a 3o+yd crossing shot rather than a 20yd going-away shot. I saw feathers fly of the bird and marked it down. I tried to flush it again, but realised it was too seriously wounded to fly and as it ran I sent Momo to retrieve it -- which he did really nicely. (Some dogs will balk on picking up a still fairly alive bird -- Momo, happily, seems to understand that a retrieve command is exactly that.)

All in all, a good day. And here's a pic from last week of Their Majesties enjoying each other's company on the couch.

Some Random Equipment Notes:

a) these flight limiters from Dogs Unlimited are intended to work well for pigeons. I'd trim them if I was going to use them on quail, but for chukar I found that 2-3oz of extra weight kept them from going too far. (I duct-taped three 20ga shotgun shells to the tube.) You can definitely make something yourself, although if you're like me and were ordering something else from them already, then save yourself a trip to the hardware store.

b) Jozsi has had a couple of short runs in his roading harness from Christies. Feeling a little nervous about having him drag chains (because it seems like they would get kinked and pick up crud), I took a suggestion from Kim Sampson and bought some lengths of welding cable. Right now, Jozsi is dragging 10' of 1/0 AWG cable, which translates into just over 4lbs. To start, I had folded each of the two 5' lengths in half with a clip in the middle, but it seem just short enough to get tangled in his back legs -- so I undid my previous work and simply created a short loop at the top of each length this time to create a longer single strand on each side. Seemed to work okay for him today.

c) Have also just started experimenting with Annamaet's Impact supplement. My apologies to whoever told me about it, but I've been giving it to the boys after either a day of hunting or, in Mr. Enthusiasm's case, after he's been dragging cables. The goal is to give them better probiotics to absorb the all the nutrients in the good food they're given and provide things like Omega-3s and 6s and anti-oxidants.


Mike Spies said...

Ahhh, the training never ends. Every dog is always a work in progress.

Glad you are getting them out so often, Andrew. They will be ready for Spring trials.

Good on 'ya!

Dan & Margaret said...

A "theme"? Whatever are you talking about.. I noticed nothing ;o) I've been out "training" too.. only my version requires opening the car door, and loosing the hounds. And walking. Lots of walking.. until we finally flush the second-fastest land animal in North America. And the race is on. I've always told people the difference between "coursing" and "hunting" is, if you come home without the jack.. you were coursing.