Gosh, I miss them. My girls at training camp…

Lexi at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Lexi at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018

I spend a LOT of time with my dogs–most of my time, really. I work from home, and so Lexi and Sky are my constant companions: A run in early am, in the office together all day, a walk in the PM, repeat.

But not this July and August. Both girls went to Wild Apple Kennel at the end of June for summer training, and they’ll be there through this month.

I’m counting down the days.

Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018

I don’t care about no stinkin’ ribbons. Until I think we might win one…

Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial, Stark, NH
Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial, Stark, NH

Only one thing sucks more than planted quail: cold, wet, planted quail.

In the best conditions, planted quail prefer running to flushing. When these birds are cold and wet, they’re as likely to fly as a frog or groundhog.

And cold, wet planted quail, plus a handful of well-trained bird dogs, is what Lexi and I faced off against at the Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial.

This trial ran from April 27-29. We were in Sunday’s Amateur Shooting Dog stake. It was a cold, cloudy day. Rain shifted back-and-forth from drizzling to pouring.

 

Lexi was in the third brace (there were only 4 in the entire stake). She had a great run, stayed in the pocket the whole time, handled perfectly, and, as you can see in the videos, the didn’t let those lousy quail throw her off her game (or make her break point). By the time we finished the course, I thought for sure we would be taking home a yellow ribbon.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. While I was disappointed, Lexi didn’t mind. She just had fun chasing birds.

Cocker spaniel vs. rascally rabbits. Awesome drone video…

For the next installment in our “cocker spaniel, you’ve-got-to-see-this video series”, check out this one from Nick Ridley over in the UK. Over there, they use spaniels to hunt rabbits. The vid is shot with a drone, and if you watch closely you’ll spot bunnies bolting from the cover, unseen by the shooter.

Click to Watch: Rabbit Shooting Over a Cocker Spaniel Filmed with a 3DR Drone
Click to Watch: Rabbit Shooting Over a Cocker Spaniel Filmed with a 3DR Drone

Cocker power. Watch this little dog gundog run…

Field bred Cocker Spaniels are great little dogs, and in the U.S. today, they’re more popular than ever.

Cocker Spaniel at a Field Trial
Cocker Spaniel at a Field Trial

Over the next few days, I’m going to put up a few videos showing what they’re can do. This one is from Tom Ness @ Oahe Kennels. He’s a top trainer and breeder of these little dynamos.

Gone to the dogs…

Sky and I headed up to northern NH on Saturday to say “hello” to Lexi and Craig Doherty. Craig runs Wild Apple Kennel, and this is the second season he has worked with Lexi.

Lexi left for training camp at the end of June, and this was the first time the Sky has seen her since then. After they had a moment to reacquaint, we put took some pigeons out for them and ran a couple other dogs Craig has in his kennel this summer. Overall, a great day.

IMG_2941
Lexi pointing a pigeon

An interview with Ferrell Miller, legendary pointer trainer & breeder…

Paul Fuller of Bird Dogs Afield just posted this great interview with legendary pointer breeder and field trialer Ferrell Miller. If you’re into bird dogs, you should make time to watch the whole thing.

And if you don’t know much about Pointers, this short video is a nice introduction to the breed. It also features Ferrell Miller, and is worth watching just to see Mr Miller in the field working his dogs.

Ferrell Miller and CH Miller's Happy Jack, from http://www.phantomkennels.com/
Ferrell Miller and CH Miller’s Happy Jack, from http://www.phantomkennels.com/

Another nice video: Beautiful English Pointers in the UK…

Has anyone ever seen pointers like this in the US? The ones in this video are fantastic looking dogs. Maybe I’m seeing things, but they look a bit different from most EPs I’ve seen over here – leggier, deeper in the chests, and with blockier, squarer heads. Their points are lot different, too. They do get the job done, though.

Who’s smarter: This Border Collie or your bird dog?

Check out this issue of Nova Science Now : How Smart Are Dogs?, hosted by the big brained Neil deGrasse Tyson. It tells the story of Chaser, a Border Collie who’s pretty darn smart. The video is a bit long, but it’s worth watching just to see how much a dog can learn to do.

“You have to get to know a dog, first, before you can train him.”

Puck, my English Pointer, pointing a grouse
Puck, my English Pointer, pointing a grouse

What’s it really take to train a bird dog? There’s some insight into it in this piece from  Garden & Gun magazine.

The Education of a Bird Dog

by Geoffery Norman – Alabama – Garden & Gun, October/November 2013

For Ramin Jackson, training a gundog doesn’t start with shouting and shock collars. It starts with getting to know his pupil

Find out. Click through to read the entire article.
Find out. Click through to read the entire article.

The turnoff was five miles from Union Springs, a name that doesn’t mean much unless you care about bird dogs. In that case it means a lot. Resonates, I suppose, the same way the name Bordeaux does for people who care hopelessly about wine. Union Springs, which is about forty-five miles east of Montgomery in the Alabama Black Belt, is known as the field trial capital of the world. A bronze statue in the town square depicts not the usual Confederate infantryman but an English pointer, standing staunchly with head high and tail straight…

Read the entire piece here

Think your dog can hunt all day? This trainer says no way…

Cocker Spaniel at a Field Trial
Cocker Spaniel at a Field Trial

Todd Agnew is a well known dog trainer who works with top-notch Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels. At his Craney Hill Kennel, he has worked with hundreds of gundogs and trained a number of them to world-class levels.

In his recent post CONDITIONING…IT IS MORE THAN JUST FINDING MORE BIRDS, he talks about getting hunting dogs into shape – what it takes, why it matters, and how it affects a dog’s performance. If you have a bird dog, I suggest you read it. Here’s a taste of the info, and opinion, you’ll encounter:

“…If your dog can hunt all day, then I do not want to hunt with your dog! There, I said it and I mean it. Let me explain and then you think about it…”

To find out why, read Todd’s entire post now: CONDITIONING…IT IS MORE THAN JUST FINDING MORE BIRDS

One dog’s development: Watch Little Jeb get steady…

Check out this short video to see Little Jeb go from wild to steady — right before your very eyes! Here’s a bit about the video from the folks at GunDogDevelopment.com: A chronology of Little Jeb’s steadiness training. Over the last six months, we anxiously waited for him to show us that he was ready to be steadied on game. This video journal, begining May 25, 2013 captures all of his training sessions up to July 13, 2013. All of the clips are in sequence to show his progression.

Although edited, all of the benchmarks to move him through the program have been included. Little Jeb received one E-collar correction in the at the finally. If you watch closely, you can see a slight twitch in his tail when the correction occurred.

Doing it right with a springer spaniel from Silverthorn Gundogs….

I always enjoy watching a great bird dog do its thing. In this video, you can see Silverthorn’s Emma, a Springer Spaniel out of Silverthorn Gundogs in northwestern, PA, do just that. I love her energy & enthusiasm. She’s the perfect partnership, and you can see how fun she’s having in the field.

Silverthorn Emma from Adam Reese on Vimeo.

Gunmaking & gundog training in the UK…

Here’s a nice video showing a bit about gunmakers Dickson & McNaughton and UK gundog training. It’s well produced and definitely worth a watch. Check it out now.

Gun Dog from Ella Nodwell on Vimeo.

Praising your pup: Is there a “best” way?

Steady with Style, from Martha Greenlee
Steady with Style, from Martha Greenlee

Praise isn’t something you can do wrong – or at least that’s what I thought. But one afternoon at Woodcock Haven Kennels, ace pointing dog trainer Al Ladd used a very personal demo to show me the right way to say “good boy”.

After I had whoed up my pointer on a planted pigeon and stroked her back up and down with praise, Al came up to me and did the same thing. Then he paused, put his hand on my arm, and calmy said “nice job.”

“See how one way gets you all worked up? And the other keeps you calm?”

I did.

In her piece Praise, Martha Greenlee points out the same thing and explains why calm praise is the better way to go.

Praise, from Martha Greenlee’s Steady with Style

“Praise is one type of reward you use to train a dog. Food treats, tossing a ball and an excited voice are examples of other types of rewards. Trainers who compete in dogs sports such as obedience, agility and tracking use a variety of rewards to let the dog know he did what the trainer asked. However, training a pointing dog is different. These dogs are bred with a strong desire to find birds, so finding birds is already a powerful reward, and it gets them excited.

The key to training a pointing dog is to give praise as a reward when your dog does what you asked. Unlike most rewards, praise can be given in ways that don’t increase your dog’s level of excitement. The calmer you can keep your dog around birds, the less pressure you will need to redirect his focus back to training….”

Read the entire piece here.

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