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

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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