Stella (Basso x Amber) went to her new home today. This video is of her new owners, Therese and Eric, learning to handle her in the field.
Stella is steady on her birds until released, does a nice flush/stop on cue and has a natural retrieve. In this video, I’m having Eric and Therese take turns learning to handling Stella and shooting over her. At this stage, I connect (mentally and physically) the new handler and the dog together with the checkcord for a few sessions. There are a number of new associations that need to be made both for the dog and the handler. The dog needs to associate what he already knows to a new handler including the new voice, new timing, different body movements and cues, etc. The handler needs to learn how to read the dog and learn when to move, when to be still, when to cue the dog, etc.
We had a lot of fun. I’m sure Stella will be happy in her new home. Thank you Therese and Eric.
Here is my response to additional questions that were asked on another forum regarding this video:
“Hello All. I’ll try and answer a few questions.
If you watch the video, listen to the narrative and please, if you would, read the text that I included there on Youtube. It explains a lot about what I’m doing with Stella and her new handler. First, because my method is based on trust, not obedience, the relationship between the handler and the dog is different. Stella is steady when I handle her because she knows that working with me, trusting me, pays off. In my experience, dogs learn best by building natural associations. It’s how pack animals learn to cooperate for the greater good. The reason I have Stella on a check cord for a few sessions with her new handler, is so that they can begin building that necessary, trusting relationship. I need her to associate the new handler with successful hunting. Just as she did with me. It takes only a few birds. Speaking of trust, that’s why I sometimes give the bird to the dog. First, I always expect a natural retrieve to hand. Sometimes after offering the bird to me, instead of taking it and putting it in my pack, I will give it back to the dog. I’m sharing the kill with her, just as she did with me. Once I give it back to her, it is hers to do with whatever she pleases. If she sees it as valuable enough to bury, that’s a good thing. Prey value equals drive, intensity and focus on birds. All the things we like to see.”
On the other forum someone asked about our hunting strategy. Here is my response:
Yes, with my method we have different expectations and in fact, we hunt in a different, more natural way. All the dogs are expected to handle well, manage their birds (set the bird but don’t flush until cued by the handler), Do an aggressive flush/stop when asked (our “alright” cue), be steady through wing, shot and fall, and then retrieve. Our dogs would never consider “creeping” (moving toward the bird with the intent to flush or chase). They manage or “stalk” to get close enough, without flushing the bird, to set the bird and be ready to do a flush/stop on our cue. It’s what all predators naturally do, dogs included. Like I said, we hunt in a different way.
Another way to see it is that the bird is not ours, it’s theirs. Ask them, they’ll tell you. 🙂 My job is to show them that If they’re willing to work with me, I can be useful in getting that bird in their mouth. I tell them, I know I can’t keep up and I can’t smell a thing. But if you’ll try a new strategy, be steady instead of chasing, I’ll show you that I can be useful to the pack. I can kill the bird for you and get it in your mouth. They all take the deal.