BRIAR: continuing the Basics
Briar is now nine months old and really growing. She is already as tall as her mother and starting to fill out nicely. At her age, the physical side of her exercise is still limited as her joints form and she grows. So I am still focusing on the basic skills, including heel, sit and recall.
Her drive for retrieving has increased tenfold and her personality is beginning to show. She has bags of drive and has started to understand the different components of the retrieve. She now understands she only ever gets sent for a retrieve when she is on my left. Because I have always enforced this, it means she is desperate to get into pole position, which is exactly what I want.
She is also starting to push the boundaries slightly as she gains more confidence. I use this term lightly as it is rare for a dog so young to be deliberately naughty. It is more a case of the dog not understanding or being confused. However, sometimes there are cases where the dog is aware of what is required and the desire to do something else takes over. Briar is so keen to retrieve, she sometimes forgets her sit and runs-in.
While this is not a behaviour I want to encourage, I also must be careful not to quash her drive for the job. So as she runsin, I interrupt her by clapping my hands and say “no”. As she glances at me, I encourage her back and tell her she is good for coming to me. I then walk out myself, pick up the retrieve and start again. This way she doesn’t get the retrieve when she runs-in and I stop her relatively gently. If the dog ignores the attempt to stop them, I would use a training half slip lead/collar, so I have something to hold to stop the dog.
I have also started to introduce her to simple memory retrieves. This helps to enforce the steadiness. For the time being, I am only doing memory retrieves in open, easy ground. Not only because she is a baby, but also because when I cast her for the retrieve I want her to focus on where I am sending her and not my hand. I can make sure she can see the dummy I am sending her back for in open ground.
At this stage of her training and life, there are plenty of new experiences
I have planned for her. For example, picking feather and fur, hearing bangs, seeing live game running around, jumping, cover and so on. All of these things are important if I want an effective, obedient, good all-round shooting dog. However, there is by no means a rush to introduce them. Her joints are still soft, her hearing and personality still sensitive, and so an attempt to introduce them in a hurry can ultimately result in causing more harm than good.
I know of many dogs ruined when rushed into things and don’t know of any that have been ruined when the handler has taken their time. To this end, Briar still has plenty of playtime, enjoys chewing her toys and being a puppy.
“Briar is so keen to retrieve, she sometimes forgets her sit and runs-in — not something I want to encourage but I must be careful”
For the time being, Ellena is only sending young Briar for memory retrieves in open, easy ground
Briar understands that she will only be sentfor a retrieve when she is on Ellena’s left