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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Eight weeks and off to new homes.

Having dreaded the departure for weeks, it is actually not too bad. I have managed not to cry so far. During the last week it has become clear to me that the pups need more than what I can give them and they need more space and more challenges. They are ready to go to their new homes and I am ready to concentrate more on Pontus.

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Pups at Seven Weeks Old. Eating us out of the House.

I have it sorted: First thing in the morning I chuck chicken thighs in their whelping box to keep them in there and NOT on the wet and poohy newspaper in the pen. While they devour the chicken I can clean the pen and put down new, dry paper. They eat a phenomenal amount. I thought I would take a photo of the shopping trolley last time I went to the supermarket (and I go a few times a week!):

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They are just little wolves

The whole process of these pups follow a set path determined in the distant past amongst the wolf ancestors to the dogs. Gaia’s handling of the new pups, her gradual distancing from them, her weaning where she still gives them a small amount of milk, but increasingly regurgitate food for them instead and her disciplining of the little young dogs. I give them toys (empty milk cartons etc) and they love that, but the “killing practice” is the most important. They spend all wakening hours chasing and pushing one another over, shaking the skin, biting and pulling. It’s a training in agility for taking down pray as much as a social education where they learn to know each other’s limits. When you bite someone and he squeals, you went to far. That’s it. They spend most of the day in the outside pen:

Theia and Pontus in the garden.

Theia and Pontus in the garden.

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Pups are now six weeks old.

The pooh is on a biblical scale. I should really look back at the CCTV footage of the pups’ room to have a laugh about my frantic morning. I chuck chicken bones or pieces of tripe in to the whelping box really quickly to make them all concentrate on the food while I gather up all the poohed newspaper as fast as I can before they come and jump up my arms. The whole lot goes in the wood burner and then we can all breathe. Next thing is that they want out. Either in the rest of the room or in their outdoor pen. If it is very wet, the outdoor pen just gets so muddy it’s not a good idea, but we shall get some nice weather later in the week so they will be able to enjoy that.

Here are the pups at six weeks old:

Gaias female pups at six weeks Blog copy
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Five Weeks old and mobile.

Never a dull moment now. The little pooh machines are active!! The whelping box has long lost its novelty and their newspaper covered pen too. They are ready to go out in the outdoor pen and they LOVE it. Here are the weekly portraits:

Gaias female pups at five weeks Blog copy
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