Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Slow and Steady Dog Training, Ginger's Progress

     Training a dog is not something to be rushed. Slow and steady, making sure your dog understands the task at hand before moving on to the next lesson is the way to go. Ginger is 17 weeks old, a baby, so all our training is free of pressure, and expectations. But the training began the day she got home. She doesn't know it, but everything we've done has had some relation to something else, and it'll all merge seamlessly. Here are a few videos of the progress we've been making.

     In this video, Ginger is making her first water retrieve. Her introduction to water was done slowly; first she got to play in a kiddie pool. Next she got to play in a muddy run-off creek. Later we waded together in a shallow river, until this day when together we went to a local pond and she was allowed to follow me into the deeper water. As you'll see, she took to it quite naturally. You'll also see that I didn't expect her to swim right out, and I kept her on the lead until her confidence grew. Basically my method is the exact opposite of those who toss a pup in to a pond and expect it to either sink or swim.

     In this next video we increase the challenge a bit by letting her go out by herself. She's anxious to get the retrieve, and needs to be reminded to stay steady until sent.

     Finally, we advance to letting Ginger sit while we toss out the bumper, then sending her. The video, however, doesn't capture all the action, nor all the distractions. You'll notice Ginger keeps looking towards the left of the screen. That's because a young lady was riding a horse in the water, just out of view. Despite the distractions Ginger remained focused.

     Manners are vitally important in any breed of gun dog, and it's often manners that make a dog to stand out. Since Ginger came home she's never been allowed to just run out to pick up a toy when playing. As we've always restrained her, and then let her go when we were ready she's come to understand, and be accustomed to the idea of steadiness. In this video, you'll see that Ginger is steady even when just playing in the house.

     Here we've started to put it all together for Ginger. She's been introduced to cover, shown us her ability to use her nose by finding scented tennis balls, and begun to hunt enthusiastically when we're out in the woods. Combined with her steadiness, and willingness to retrieve, we have a little fun with a scented dummy.

     Still young, and figuring it all out she initially retrieves to momma, but at 16 weeks I can over look that. On this particular day it was quite hot, and windless, so scenting was difficult. At one point you'll notice Ginger stops, surveys the air for a moment, then pounces on the dummy. That's a young dog using it's head, as well as it's nose.

     Anyway, that's we we are, and we're loving it.

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