Friday, November 5, 2010

Consistency with Bailey

Consistency is where I have gone wrong lately in Bailey's training for his "field trial career."

At 28 months old, Bailey can not understand that freedom to run the prairies in search of birds and then chase them after the flush would not be acceptable a week later in a very structured field trial.  While I was trying to shoot the fast and allusive cock pheasant, Bailey was free to do what he wanted.  An unsupervised juvenile at the Disneyland for upland bird dogs.

If it so happened that we were at the same place at the same time, then maybe we would act as a hunting team.  He would hold point through the shot.  But he always broke after the shot to chase the bird.  He would pull off the chase quickly, if I yelled, but chase he did.

The "steady to wing and shot" training, that I had sent him to Randy Berry for three months to establish, was not enforced for six days with the wild birds of South Dakota.  We were having a good old time being guys with their dogs in the wide open prairie.

Upon coming back to California and then to the first field trial last weekend, it really should have been no surprise that Bailey did not do well.  He really didn't know what I wanted him to do.

Consistency in commands and expectations.  Each time a command is given by me, it must be obeyed by Bailey.  "Woop," means "do not move a muscle until released."
"Here, come here", means come right to me and do not hesitate or venture off in another direction.

For the next few weeks or months Bailey and I will work on the six to eight basic commands that are going to be given consistently without variation and with consistent reactions by Bailey.  This is how we will progress in hunting as a team and in field trials.
Training the hunting dog for the field and field trials
Without consistency, Bailey is lost.  He does not understand gray areas.  I need to remember that dogs think in black and white and never gray.  Almost all the training books told me and I didn't listen.

I'm learning by making mistakes.
Training Champions Hunting & Field Trialing : Puppies Started Right
  Now how long will it take to undo the damage from my inconsistency. 
 We shall see.


Tania said...

Don't worry, Rod, you have plenty of time to finish Bailey's field titles. Have fun HUNTING!

I'm going pheasant hunting in South Dakota next week with Bailey's half-sister, Freyja, and my finished gun dog who is scheduled to test in NAVHDA UT in December. I'm sure I'll have to re-break him when I get back. It's all worth it! :-)

Tania Campbell

Rod Michaelson said...

Hi Tania,
Thanks for the encouragement. When Bailey came back from "bootcamp" he knew what he had to do to please the professional I had used. The rookie in me thought he could seperate field trials from hunting. Guess I learned that isn't so. He is firming back up quickly.

Ken and Janet said...

You'll have Bailey Tuned up in no-time. It'd probably be faster though if you quit blogging and finished the MASTER BATHROOM SO WE COULD TRAIN! :-)))))

Andrew Campbell said...

Rod: some folks will tell you that hunting will screw up a trial dog -- and the answer to that is barely 'it might'. You're bang on that the inability to enforce training can create an opening for bad habits to creep back in -- but all those pheasants reinforced the most important part of the game, intensity and style on game. Keep in mind that he is still a young dog -- and as you build repetitions to get him honest again, keep it fun for both of you. He'll be back in no time.