Keepa: in­creas­ing his op­tions

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

THE NEXT Ex­er­cise I did is linked with han­dling at dis­tance. I need Keepa’s left, right and back com­mands to be a lot more con­fi­dent when at dis­tance. I start by us­ing a straight fence line. If you have a dog that is in­clined to jump, make sure the fence is not barbed.

I be­gin by sit­ting him down with his back to the fence, look­ing at me. I walk out and place a dummy one side of him, which he sees. I then walk away ap­prox­i­mately 40 yards away. I give him the stop whis­tle com­mand to be­gin with, partly to make it seem as though I have just stopped him

“Keepa man­ages to hold the line with­out the fence”

at dis­tance but also to get his at­ten­tion. When he is to­tally fo­cused on me I give him the “get out” com­mand, which means go right. He will­ingly runs the cor­rect di­rec­tion, which will help give him con­fi­dence and re­as­sure him ex­actly what the “get out” com­mand means. I re­peat this ex­er­cise but go­ing the other di­rec­tion, which is “away”.

I then do it again but put both dum­mies out at the same time, so he now has two op­tions. The fence line en­cour­ages him to hold a straight line in each di­rec­tion. As he be­gins to gain con­fi­dence with th­ese I be­gin to move him away from the fence. This means he now has two op­tions of re­trieve but he also has to hold his line with­out the fence help­ing him. He found this rel­a­tively easy, so I de­cided to push him a lit­tle fur­ther. I brought him to­tally off the fence and in­tro­duced a third op­tion.

I let him see me put all three dum­mies out, one left, one right and one straight be­hind him. I then sent him for the one straight back. It is im­por­tant to make sure the dum­mies are a good dis­tance away so he isn’t en­cour­aged to “run over” a dummy. Also if he makes a mis­take and tries to pick the in­cor­rect dummy, I have plenty of time to stop him and start again. If he strug­gles with any of th­ese I sim­ply start again. If he con­tin­ues to strug­gle I will break the ex­er­cise back down to make it eas­ier and then build him back up as his con­fi­dence grows.

Keepa watches in­tently as El­lena places three dum­mies — one left, one right and one be­hind him

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