Ran into a couple of guys with a well-meaning but out-of-control GSP. He seemed to want to know what he was doing, but he really had no idea.
Sophie found a pheasant near them and was locked up, hard. Adrian was searching around the cover when she saw Sophie from way out, went into a stalk, slowly approached around the cover, and did a beautiful natural honor at a perfect distance. The GSP was running around behind them, totally oblivious to the fact that they were on point, or that there might be a bird around.
I said, “Hi” and nonchalantly walked around to where the dogs were on point, positioned myself where I figured I could shoot best, then released Sophie to flush the pheasant.
She pounced, driving the bird into the air. I waited and shot, dropping the bird near the two guys.
When I looked over, their mouths were open. They were downright gushing, raved about how well my dogs had worked, and worked together. They said they’d never seen anything like it, and it was just amazing.
Brad, I’ve got to get some of your latest business cards to carry in my hunting jacket.
Latest and greatest excuse I heard for the failure of conventional gundog training…
Hunting Buddy: “Oh, Flash just has happy feet.”
Buddy: “If the bird starts moving, he will probably bump it.”
Me: “Uh, that just means that he’s never been taught why he would want to wait for the gun. That’s why launching pigeons in front of a dog and shocking him when he moves doesn’t actually work.”
Buddy: Dark look, changes subject.
This dog has been boarded for months with a NAVHDA trainer in Montana, more than once. He’s a great GWP who would be an incredible hunting dog after a few days with Brad.
The City of Boise is currently renovating the local dog park. They’re not changing the 150-yard path from the parking lot to the dog park area, though.
Whoever designed that, especially in a place where concrete can be icy in Winter, must have never had a dog! You see a lot of dogs dragging their owners the whole way.
The tools you learn in the Higgins Puppy Partnership make it easy, even with three hyper dogs. Here’s a demo.
Oh now I’m confused. I thought I was part of the Community before, but according to the page, I just joined.
Adrian is learning to live in town. Her temperament is great, and I have been taking her out in the hills with the other two dogs. She checks in with me regularly and handles beautifully with little effort on my part. She’s learning a recall quickly and while she’s a curious and independent dog, she’s also as biddable as any dog I’ve ever seen, probably better than any.
More to come…
I’m really liking the way it’s broken out.
Also like the term “defer walk.” This makes people think about deferral and what that means.
The Walk has been a game changer for the way I can relate to and handle dogs, including strays. I’ve used it on lost dogs I’ve run across, from a pit bull to a herder. It works.
The most dramatic incident, though, was when I was out hunting and I heard a strange howl from the cliffs above me. At first, I thought it was some predator, but when I looked, it was a German Shorthair who saw me with my dogs and was calling for help.
I climbed up to see what was going on, and I found that he was on a shaky chunk of lava. Big, loose lava rocks covered the hillside, and it seems that he had run out into the loose rock, but when he felt how unstable they were, he froze. He refused to move off the rock he was standing on.
Fortunately, I’d put a check cord in my vest. I climbed up the shaky rock to him and put the cord on him. Then I led him off the rocks, doing the closest thing to the Walk that I could under the circumstances. With me in the lead, he had the trust to take a step, then another step, then another, until I got him off the rock pile. I was able to lead him another mile or so back to my Jeep, with his trust.
He had an e-collar on him with a dead battery, so I figured he was probably out hunting. I called the phone number on his collar and it was disconnected. I put him in the back of my Jeep with my dogs and apart from the fact that he was an intact male and one of mine was also, he seemed happy to have someone taking care of him. Again, he seemed to have innate trust in the guy who had done the Walk with him on those unstable rocks and beyond. Because both dogs would defer to me, I was able to manage the male-male stuff immediately with an “ach” and a look or two.
I had no idea what to do but I figured I might as well drive back out to the pavement and figure it out there instead of in the dirt as the sun was setting. As I approached the main road, I saw a mass of 4×4 vehicles assembling like they were going out to look for something or someone, so, on a hunch, I drove over and asked the first person I saw, “Hey, you guys aren’t looking for a German Shorthair, are you?”
The guy’s eyes lit up and he said, “Yeah! Have you seen him?”
I said, “Yes,” and laughed to myself.
“Do you know where he is?”
“Yeah.” He asked where. Then I laughed out loud and pointed. “He’s right there in the back of the Jeep.”
A few other people had walked over and they were almost dancing with joy when they saw him and that he was okay.
They told me the dog had been lost the evening before, and they thought he might have been taken by coyotes. It seems he must have been standing on that rock, afraid to move, for a whole day!
There are many “tools” in the toolkit of dog handling, and they all have important applications. But I have to say, the Defer Walk and related stuff like space claiming, have completely changed the way I am able to handle dogs and gain their trust quickly.