A while back, I had the opportunity to watch a few champion retrievers at work, and to learn about the training that goes into waterfowl retrieval.
LEAVE THE DECOY - BRING BACK THE DOWNED BIRD
I realize that the subject of "downed birds" might be a problem. This discussion will show no photos of downed birds, but will simply discuss a few aspects of training a dog to be a hunting partner.
I grew up in a hunting family. My grandfather, uncles, and father, were all hunters. They were not trophy hunters. Any hunting in my family always resulted in a viable meat source. Turkey and/or pheasant were often served at Thanksgiving.
Having owned a Chocolate Lab at one point in our lives, I know the instinct is strong to "bring things home." Our Ike would often appear in our yard with tidbits he found in the woods near our house, some of which I would run screaming from.
So, when invited to a weekend event which included watching retrievers do their thing, I was excited to learn the process.
Decoys and "calls" are a part of hunting. It is important the dog is trained to leave the decoys alone and bring back the bird.
This Cabela's video, of a dog's first-time experience with decoys will explain.
TEACH STRAIGHT LINES
Retrievers are also taught to retrieve in a straight line--leave shore, get the downed bird, return to shore--all in a sort of shortest-distance-between-two-points approach. The straightest paths are the best paths. Here's a quick article from Ducks Unlimited that talks about why this is so important.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN SEARCHING FOR A REPUTABLE TRAINER
1. What education and training does the trainer have?
2. Are they certified, accredited, or a member of a certified/accredited organization?
3. What training methods do they use?
4. Do they have any client testimonials or reviews that you can look over?
While there are more, I'm sure, these at least can get the conversation rolling to the point where you can gauge your feel for the person.
Thanks to Bridget Bodine and Charles Jindracek, I was able to see positively-reinforced retriever training in action with their black labs, Crosby and Frazier. They are now located in Tennessee, and Bridget has started her own business Versatile Dog Training. Click on the name to view her Facebook page.
I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about in this week's topic, start here with Seattle dog photographer, Holly Cook, as she explains what it takes for your dog to be a Salty Dog. Then find the link at the end of each blog to click on to the next photographer.
Have a great weekend. Enjoy!