Dog training gets serious – Times News Online
I desperately want to talk about anything but COVID-19 right now, so I’m going to resort to one thing almost everyone agrees on: the family dog. When we got Duncan, we were looking for more than just an adorable family pet. Desperate to hunt with dogs again, the WH spent considerable time researching the right breed that a loyal family companion could reconcile with a hard-working hunter.
I feel like I have to make a little detour here and explain how we decided to get a dog through a reputable breeder instead of adopting or rescuing a dog. If we had been looking for a pet for the family we would definitely have gone this route; However, since we were looking for a dog with a specific purpose, working with a breeder was the right option for us at this point.
We spent about two years researching different breeds of dogs and figuring out what was right for our family, and then spent another year researching and interviewing breeders until we found the one that was right for us, and then waited a little longer until she had the feeling that she had the right puppy for us. So far, neither of us is disappointed with the way things have gone. But every family should choose the option that’s right for them, and every dog out there deserves a loving home.
Duncan is about to embark on a new adventure. He will start working on his hunting tests. Well, I’m not a hunting dog expert so this is a whole new adventure for me too. That’s a lot more of a WH thing than mine, but I’m going with it.
It kind of reminds me of when the WH signed up the boys for wrestling, a sport that was completely alien to me, and by the end of the boys’ first matches I still had no idea what I was watching, but wow, it was exciting !
For those of you who also have no idea what all of this means, in simple terms, from what I’m getting, these hunting tests are simulations of actual hunting situations dogs might find themselves in and are rated based on how predictable they are behave and when they ultimately manage to track down, dangle or flush whatever to hunt. I’ll be sure to give a more detailed explanation after I better understand it myself.
Until then, I had no idea what types of simulated dead animals they were selling on the internet to promote this type of training. Little did I know, either, that G and the WH kept different parts of the living things they had harvested last year to make their own “toys”.
The other day I almost threw away a damp pile of leaves that had gathered in the corner of the porch. Fortunately, G was there to keep me from throwing away various parts of the pheasant that were poorly attached to a throwing buoy. It had been in Duncan’s mouth so many times it was practically unrecognizable and very, very, very gross.
One of the other joys of this process is the medium sized bag that held fishing gear in a previous life but has since been repurposed to hold everything you might need when you have a dog on a mission in the wild. First-aid child comes first, complete with tweezers and a large blanket for removing the porcupines. Then there are a couple of different collars and leashes, including the GPS tracking module. Add in a decent bag of snacks, a few different exercise aids, and of course its portable water station, and at the end of the day I’m surprised this sport doesn’t come with a caddy like golf.
Think about it, maybe that’s why the WH are so persistent that I take them to the hunting test. Maybe I’m the caddy and I don’t know.
The WH has been working with Duncan since the day we took him home, and Dunc has had some good hunts under his belt, but training has been in full swing since we submitted his registrations. This has brought remarkable benefits both domestically and in the field.
The literature on this breed says they begin to mature at 2 years of age, and since this is just around the corner, I assumed that his mitigation and extreme obedience were finally taking effect. Then I realized he was exhausted and most of the time a tired dog is a good dog.
He was also allowed to do “his thing” for several hours a day. He had a much stricter schedule and was constantly held to the highest standards. It was a lot easier for him to behave when he knew what the expectations were.
One evening the training session ended early and I noticed that there was a lot of frustration in the air. The WH came in, shaking his head. There were a few expletives and a brief explanation that “that dog” wouldn’t do anything all night. One look in that damn dog’s face and I could see that he had absolutely no regrets for misbehaving. And so quickly the two of them had one of their best meetings ever the next day, and he obeyed the letter of every command given to him. Duncan’s mood swings earned him the # 3 Teenager title.
I look forward to seeing him in action as much as I enjoy watching the children participate in their sports and activities that they train and practice for and hopefully succeed. I know the certificates and medals they can earn if they meet all the requirements mean nothing to him, and they’ll likely just be put in the same keepsake boxes that I keep the children’s treasures in, but I know him will enjoy doing the things he was born to do with his favorite person for three days, and he will meet a whole host of other new dog friends. As for me, I’ll be doing my new job: dog handler.
Liz Pinkey is a writer for The Times News. Your column appears weekly in our Saturday feature area.