“Walkies” can be made in to nice training.

It’s nice to train the young dog and the result is best if you integrate it in to a walk so that you move in various areas as much as possible.

I take two small dummies with me as they fit into a jacket pocket. To train the dog to mark a retrieve and also to train getting directions to a blind retrieve, I do this:  I throw a dummy to be marked by Pontus, my 14 months old pup.

Throwing the marked retrieve.

Throwing the marked retrieve.

As he goes off for the marked retrieve…..

Potus setting off to get the marked retrieve.

Potus setting off to get the marked retrieve.

….I turn round and throw one out the other way while he is not looking.

Placing the unseen "blind" dummy.

Placing the unseen “blind” dummy.

Pontus then picks the marked one and delivers it back to me.

Picking up the marked dummy.

Picking up the marked dummy.

Return.

Return.

Delivering, "holding" nicely.

Delivering, “holding” nicely.

Then it is time to turn him round and send him for the blind retrieve.

Setting Pontus up for the direction.

Setting Pontus up for the direction.

....and off....

….and off…

If all goes well, he doesn’t need stopping for further directions, but simply picks the dummy on the wind successfully.

Returning the dummy.

Returning the dummy.

Happy dog.

Happy dog.

The treats come out every time.

I “hunt” him and throw seen dummies or I sneak blind dummies in to the mix and hence we are moving in various places making the training as enjoyable as possible.

"Hunting" Pontus in to the wind.

“Hunting” Pontus in to the wind.

I sit him down on the whistle and then throw a dummy for him to mark. The small dummies are not easy to find in the long grass, so it’s a good challenge.

Watching the dummy.

Watching the dummy.

On a nice day, a swim in the river is fabulous training too.

Pontus likes his svimming.

Pontus likes his svimming.

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Training is good fun

It doesn’t have to be a chore to train the dogs in preparation for the season. It is ALMOST time to get on the moor to count the grouse broods, but the retrieving training is still going on without disturbing ground nesting birds.

In order to train my Gaia, I plant dummies from my car so I don’t walk out with the dummy and hence creating a “trail” for her to follow. If I drive the car out, there is less scent for her to “cheat”. I make sure I put the dummies somewhere where I can mark the place well for directing her. Sometimes she has to go out to find a blind dummy at over 100 meters distance and I have to be able to pinpoint exactly where to send her.

Throwing the dummy from the car leaves less scent of me.

Throwing the dummy from the car leaves less scent of me.

Placing the second dummy thrown out of the car window.

Placing the second dummy thrown out of the car window.

I then drive to a place where I feel it’s a challenge for Gaia to go out in a straight line and get directed to the scent of the dummy. I set her up and send her off.

Setting Gaia up to give her directions

Setting Gaia up to give her directions

Off she goes.

Off she goes.

As she gets nearer the dummy, I sit her down for further directions till she finds it and comes back.

Sitting her down at about 60 meters to give more directions.

Sitting her down at about 60 meters to give more directions.

Returning to delivery the retrieve.

Returning to delivery the retrieve.

Sending off for the other hidden dummy.

Off for the other one.

Off for the other one.

 

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The “R” in “HPR”

Pointers and Setters only need to hunt and point. Labradors only need to hunt a bit, but mainly just retrieve. HPRs, such as German (Short-, Wire- or Long Haired) pointers, Vizlas, Munsterlanders, Brittanies etc need to hunt, point AND retrieve.

This means that a HPR dog has to know everything a Pointer or Setter knows and everything a Labrador knows. So there is plenty of training to get on with. As previously described, Pontus has started to point a bit on snipe and I have also spent a good deal of time with him on grouse. He definitely started to point and his hunting and obedience is getting very good. He has a nice, natural pattern and tends to cover the ground systematically. It is now nesting season for the grouse and all other ground nesting birds, so hunting training is suspended for the summer, which means that the (boring) dummy training is the best thing to invest in now.

Pontus has, as previously described in my blog, learned the controlled retrieve, which means he politely comes and sits, holding the dummy till I take it.

Holding the dummy, slightly awkwardly....

Holding the dummy, slightly awkwardly….

There are various disciplines a one year old pup should know and these are:

Memory retrieves.

I walk out with a dummy with the dog to heel.

Walking out with the dummy.

Walking out with the dummy.

Throwing the dummy for the dog to mark it.

Throwing dummy for the dog to remember it.

Throwing dummy for the dog to remember it.

Walk the dog back.

Walking puppy back hoping his memory lasts.

Walking puppy back hoping his memory lasts.

Sending the dog for the retrieve helping it along with hand signal. This sets the basis for later blind retrieves later.

Off for the retrieve.

Off for the retrieve.

Picking it up

Picking up.

Picking up.

Returning.

Triumphant return with dummy.

Triumphant return with dummy.

Being steady to the throw.

The dog needs to sit down and be steady to dummies being thrown. The most tempting one is when you throw it right over the dog’s  head. After the fall, the dog must sit steadily till it is asked to retrieve.

Tempting, flying dummy over his head.

Tempting, flying dummy over his head.

Waiting to be asked to retrieve.

Waiting to be asked to retrieve.

Turning to retrieve.

Turning to retrieve.

Getting there.

Getting there.

Returning.

Returning.

Directions.

One thing that takes a bit longer is the Right-Left and Back command. In an open field, place two dummies and train the dog to understand if you want the one to the right, the left or the one behind the dog.

First the dog must sit in the middle of the triangle till you give it directions. Then you say “Out” and wave to the side, you want the dog to go. Correct gently if he gets it right and eventually the dog will understand the right and left wave.

Waiting for directions.

Waiting for directions.

Understanding the directions.

Understanding the directions.

Very pleased with one self.

Very pleased with one self.

And then the going back for the one lying behind him with the “Go back” command.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Slightly hesitantly going back.

Slightly hesitantly going back.

Success.

Success.

Blind retrieve.

As a very small beginning I cover his eyes while a friend throws a dummy in the long grass. Then I set him up with the hand signal and use the above corrections if I need to help him find the dummy.

Setting the direction.

Setting the direction.

Successful find in the long grass.

Successful find in the long grass.

Clever boy.

Clever boy.

Obstacles.

Obstacles are part of a shoot day and it’s best  get the dogs used to all sorts. Here, on the ground today there is a wall on the grass slope very suitable for training. So a dummy is thrown over the wall and Pontus retrieves.

A bit of wall does not phaze Pontus.

A bit of wall does not phaze Pontus.

Nice, soft landing.

Nice, soft landing.

Happy retriever.

Happy retriever.

Water:

Retrieving over water and swimming is important. Here, we didn’t get anything deep enough, but we got the principle:

Ready with hand signal although he can see it.

Ready with hand signal although he can see it.

Across.

Across.

Found it.

Found it.

Return.

Return.

Delivery without dropping the dummy.

Delivery without dropping the dummy.

And guess who won Puppy class and got a second in Novice at the weekend?

 

Clever Pontus.

Clever Pontus.

 

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Pontus’ progress

Pontus is now 10 months old and although we do all the boring dummy retrieving, it never becomes quite as much as it ought to be because it is really very boring. Also, I have been taking advantage of the pre-nesting time to get him to go on snipe and woodcock and the odd pheasant. Like his mum, he is slow to point, but I have no worries about that because I know it will come.

Here is one of his first indications of pointing as he froze in the scent of a snipe:

Pontus on point in the white grass, scenting snipe.

Pontus on point in the white grass, scenting snipe.

We have now got in to grouse pair counting times and this is an important window not to miss as he is young and we only have a few weeks of it before we have to leave the hill for the birds to nest. I have taken advantage of having an older dog again and I allow Pontus to get up behind Gaia or Gollum on point. He is a bit of a barging-in-dog, he does not respect other dogs’ points, which is annoying, in fact on the continent it is seen as a fault when they don’t back other dogs’ points. Here is Gaia on point and although Pontus is not flushing, he is moving ahead of Gaia, so I use the handy, not-docked tail to hold him in place.

Gaia on point and Pontus learning. I have to hold him back by the Tigger tail.

Gaia on point and Pontus learning. I have to hold him back by the Tigger tail.

Gollum on point, Gaia backing and Pontus learning on the lead.

Gollum on point, Gaia backing and Pontus learning on the lead.

There is little doubt he enjoys the moor.

Pontus loving the run on the spring moor.

Pontus loving the run on the spring moor.

As he runs past me, he has time for a little glance. He is WITH me on the moor.

As he runs past me, he has time for a little glance. He is WITH me on the moor.

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Gollum Pointing and Flushing Woodcock

In February there were still loads of woodcock about and I took Gollum and Pontus, my two wirehaired pointers, out to find some. I made three little films of Gollum on point with the subsequent flush. Pontus, the apprentice, was on the lead behind Gollum to get the idea.

Here is another point and flush:

Lastly, I worked Gollum on the back wind and because I had a bell on him, I could hear that he had stopped. As I realised he was behind a bush, the bird would have to be sitting in the bush and I switched my iphone on hoping I would be proven right. As you play the film, try and go back to stop it just before the bird lifts as you can then see it sitting on the ground. At the end of the film you see Gollum rigid on point behind the bush.

It was really nice to get some easy shots of him with this fantastic bird.

Gaia was out with me today and never missed a snipe. Here she is on point, but over-shot where it was on her flush.

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Hunting and pointing, first steps

Pontus is now hunting,  but he is not sure why. His instincts and his breeding makes him search nicely, but he is clearly not sure what to look for. However, Watching him hunt is reassuring as I can see the beginnings of a nice pattern on the wind, obedience to the whistle and a really nice report with me. It is all natural for him, but roe deer foot scent is catching his imagination more than birds sitting in the grass.

Pontus is now allowed to hunt with me, but no shooting.

Pontus is now allowed to hunt with me, but no shooting.

At six months old he still looks dis-jointed, but happy.

At six months old he still looks dis-jointed, but happy.

He is using his nose to get the scent and clearly stops when there is something interesting. He does not point yet. His mother, Gaia, also took a while before she started to point.

He just catches the scent running along the pond.

He just catches the scent running along the pond.

The scent makes him want to investigate further.

The scent makes him want to investigate further.

And the nose goes in to the grass. There was nothing there...

And the nose goes in to the grass. There was nothing there…

As Pontus has no idea what he is looking for, I want him to understand that it is birds, not roe deer and I use an older dog for that. Here, after a little bit of hunting, Gollum is on point on a woodcock and I have led Pontus up beside him so he can get the scent and be “inspired” by Gollum’s point.  Funny how that paw goes up while he is still puzzling over what they are looking at.

Pontus lining up beside Gollum as he is on point. Paw up, but no idea.

Pontus lining up beside Gollum as he is on point. Paw up, but no idea.

Out training puppy with an older dog also gives the opportunity for some “sit-stay” training. It’s good to do all the exercises repeatedly in different places.

Pontus sitting, looking a bit forlorn in the middle of the woods.

Pontus sitting, looking a bit forlorn in the middle of the woods.

Great fun training a puppy.

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Small Retrieves at Five Months old.

Pontus is now five and a half months old and I have practiced the controlled retrieve, so he is solid in his delivery and completely certain of what to do with a dummy: deliver nicely in exchange of a treat.

We have moved outside now and Pontus loves to perform:

Pontus in full flow delivering a puppy dummy.

Pontus in full flow delivering a puppy dummy.

I sit him down and make him hold the dummy while I walk a short distance (20 metres) away. Once he has sat nicely I call him.

Waiting to be called, holding the dummy.

Waiting to be called, holding the dummy.

When called, Pontus sets off with the dummy.

When called, Pontus sets off with the dummy.

Softly holding the dummy while in full flow.

Softly holding the dummy while in full flow.

Looking up at my face as he approaches.

Looking up at my face as he approaches.

Sitting down, looking at me.

Sitting down, looking at me.

Holding the dummy, waiting for me to take it.

Holding the dummy, waiting for me to take it.

And finally the titbit as reward for delivering.

And finally the titbit as reward for delivering.

It is time to practice on cold game. All the training is about putting one building block on top of the previous, solid one. Here Pontus is holding a little cold partridge. It’s different to a dummy, but he is good at holding and gets used to it quickly.

Pontus sitting nicely holding a partridge.

Pontus sitting nicely holding a partridge.

I find it important to be able to clap him all over, also under his jaw, while he holds the bird. This is so that he doesn’t spit out too early just because my hand is near the bird. If a bird is still lively you can lose it if the dog spits out too early.

It's important to be able to clap him while he holds.

It’s important to be able to clap him while he holds.

It is also a good discipline to be able to walk the dog to heel while it is holding a bird.

Pontus walking to heel, holding the bird.

Pontus walking to heel, holding the bird.

Pontus sitting, holding and waiting with a partridge.

Pontus sitting, holding and waiting with a partridge.

Delivering partridge.

Delivering partridge.

Sitting down to present the bird for delivery.

Sitting down to present the bird for delivery.

That’s us for now. I also “hunt” him, but we have not yet had any real points. I am not seeking places with much game, it’s still too early.

Pontus has one more job: he still models our dog beds:

20th-nov-14

 

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Pontus and the Basics

Pontus is now 18 weeks old and he is getting the basics:

1) Sit to wait for his food

2) Wait to be let through a door, no barging

3) Stay in the back of the truck when it’s open without jumping out

4) When invited out, he sits first before being allowed to go

5) Walk to heel

6) Leave it  –  Take it

7) Sit, lie down

8) DOWN with head on the ground on command, not yet on whistle:

Head down on command. This means he would not be able to see tempting hares etc

Head down on command. This means he would not be able to see tempting hares etc

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So nice to have a puppy!

Pontus is mainly learning how to get on with the world. I simply don’t have time to train him as I work the others 3-4 days per week. And also need to look after the day job. However, he has seen most of the grouse moors we work on by now and is a good little fellow with humans and other dogs. He met his half brother a couple of weeks ago, which was nice as Truper is a kind a playful brother (same father). Here they are:

Pontus and Truper

Pontus and Truper

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Puppy Training starts at Eight Weeks

Now that I only have Pontus left, I can concentrate on the training. He is keen to learn and it is vital that we go everywhere to see the world. I had him in the pub, in the car, meeting other dogs and on the moor. Here is his first day in the heather:

Pontus smelling the heather on the moor.

Pontus smelling the heather on the moor.

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