Handling with care
Keepa and Briar are both doing well in their training so now it is time for Ellena Swift to start introducing more complicated exercises
So far in this series I have talked a lot about the importance of the basics. These remain the foundation of a consistent and reliable dog and while I have moved on to more advanced handling, I will continue to go over the basics during training sessions with Keepa and Briar.
Keepa is now looking smart and ready to be pushed a little further. He understands the stop whistle and will complete basic handling at distance. However, his stop needs some attention. I have noticed that he seems to associate the stop whistle with a negative rather than positive.
This means that, though he stops, he creeps a little in an attempt to wind the dummy before I have given him the next command. So he is not focusing 100 per cent on me; he would rather I didn’t stop him at all. While I like his drive and willingness to work on his own initiative, he needs to understand that when I ask him to stop it is because I am going to help him find the retrieve quicker.
You can clearly see the difference when I stop my open bitch, Nala; she stops sharply, gives me 100 per cent eye contact and wags her tail. Keepa stops and turns but continues to use his nose and look around a little rather than at me. When it comes to a shooting scenario I would imagine before long Keepa would start to go “self-employed”. There will be a lot of scent, particularly on the bigger shoots, meaning he is encouraged to give me less focus and will be rewarded for not listening.
I have been completing a few exercises to encourage a sharper and more focused stop.