Thursday, March 29, 2012

Letter from Bailey's Pro trainer

Ken Kuivenhoven is my friend, fellow Vizsla owner, and professional pointing breed dog trainer.
After a wonderful season of pheasant hunting, Bailey needed a "tune-up" as he had gotten "sloppy" in his bird work.  Below is a letter and some pictures sent to me by Ken this morning of how the 3-week session has gone up to know.  Bailey comes home this weekend.

Ken's blog is:

He did a nice write-up of his latest training session on his blog.

Hi Rod,

I wanted to give you an update on Bailey's "tune-up".   As you recall, he was breaking on the flush and not performing Stop to Flush too well anymore. The first thing we did was to work on he and I becoming a working team. He remembered me but given the short duration, I pulled out all the stops and he spent the first two days with me wherever I was and when we had down time he was with me in the trailer. He's not too much of a bed hog, which is nice! If I was out working another dog, he watched from the dog wagon.

I use roading for not only conditioning, but to help establish a leadership role with the dogs and accustom them to running with other dogs, getting bumped by strange dogs and coming along with me. The first time out with Bailey he wasn't too fond of it. I know you've roaded him off the bike, I think this was likely new for him from an ATV. We made it a short trip, just he and I and roaded out to a bird. Suddenly roading was a lot more fun. Now he roads with the crew for 10-12 miles every other day and he had no issues with other dogs.

We dropped all the way back to beginning training - flying birds and enforcing the stop on check cord as the first order of business. He remembered this in one lesson and proved it out on the second. Then we went to launched birds as he went by off wind working on Stop to Flush. He did this well and recalled quickly. It seemed it was as much him understanding that I MEANT steady, and he willingly did so. I know he can do the same for you - we need to spend a couple coaching sessions together so he will do the same for you.

We kept working through flushing and blanking birds for the first ten days, moving from pigeons to chuckar, from hand-held check cord to dragging to e-collar free run. He never missed a step. And then we added the shotgun. This was a weak point for him so I moved back to blanking birds, but using a 12 ga. and missing every one. (Not really hard for me to miss!) Two sessions and he had it dialed in.

Then we worked him with another dog to check his honor and steadiness through a retrieve, which is great steady training. He passed well with only a minor correction for a small step when the other dog released for the retrieve. He did start to trail a bit after this, so it's something we'll want to watch for when you run him. It's not uncommon for a dog to start really watching the other dog after the other dog has a find. I took him off by himself for a bit to let him know he had to hunt for himself and me, not let the other dog do the job.

I then tested him on steadiness after a retrieve. I had him work a warm up bird, with a 12 ga. "miss" and he was rock solid. The next bird I killed for him and he gave me a wonderful retrieve. Straight back, easy delivery to hand - couldn't ask for more. The real test is the next bird, as he's just made a retrieve - will he stay steady on another miss. Short answer, he passed with an A+.

He's really matured nicely and is running well. He's not got huge range like an All Age dog, but he is a very pleasing gun dog. He's happy and fun to watch run. You've got a great Boy there Rod. It's been a pleasure spending time with him.
 Anytime you want to send him back to me, I'd love to have him on my string. Maybe he could spend some time at wild bird dog camp in South Dakota this summer..."
Best, Ken


Anonymous said...

What a great update! Sounds like he will be dream to handle for you in no time too. This is an area Luna needs more work in, and the honoring thing in general is one of the last steps we need to do with her. Not sure why it is taking this long to finally finish her off, guess it is lack of motivation/time. Hope he transfers his work ethic to you easily, good luck.

Ken and Janet said...

Hi Anna,
Honor training is great steadiness training. We use it quite a bit when steadying, as it enforces much more of the obedience aspect of Steadiness, which is essentially obedience with style, without the scent of bird to push the prey drive up a level. I'd suggest find another person who is working on steadiness also and work together with one dog honoring, then reverse.

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