• Giving the Command Once

    German Shorthair Pointer Training 

    One of the things I am working on is giving a command once and once only, then following up to ensure that the command is followed.

    This is easy to forget and drop back into old habits, and give the command two or three times. Usually you give the command the first time and when they don’t respond, give the command again louder or with more growl in your voice, and even once again. I try to remind myself that this just trains them to come on the third command when you’re frustrated.

    One command and then enforce.

  • Electronic Dog Training Collars

    electronic dog training collar

    I am regularly asked if I use e-collars or electronic training collars in my training program. My emphatic answer is “yes, absolutely!”  I use them for two reasons, first, I am able to give a dog feedback (positive – turning the collar off, or negative – turning the collar on) at the exact instant that it is needed. Dogs ability to chain an action with a consequence is very short (< 2 seconds), and with the collar you can reach them at that exact moment. The second reason is that I can reach them at any distance, whether it is three feet, 50 feet, or 500 yards.  That said, I use the e-collar very lightly and only as a teaching tool, never as a control. If you are using an electronic collar as a way to control your dog, you’re abusing it. I have heard it sometimes called a dog’s hearing aid. I rank this thinking somewhere near pelting the dog with bird shot at 50 yards to get them under control. A good way to ruin a bird dog, rather than bring out their best. Two months ago I purchased the Dogtra 202 gold – two dog e-collar system and have been very pleased with it. The collars are very small and light as well as being water proof. They seem to hold a charge for a long time and with the dial setting, they can go from no current gradually to a very strong one. The transmitter is small, hangs nicely on its lanyard around the neck and is quick and straight forward to use. I haven’t yet taken advantage of the page (vibrate) button feature, but suppose it could be useful. I also have a Tri-tronics sport 50 e-collar that I have used for about five years. I liked this collar and found it easy to use. One thing I like about my new collar over this older one, is that the power settings are infinitely adjustable with the dial, as opposed to only 5 click settings on the older Sport 50 model. I noticed that the new tri-tronics sport series have 10 click settings for a finer range of adjustments. I am sure these new collars are nice, as Tri-troincs products are always quaility. I also liked the idea of being able to marry additional collars to your transmitter in the field. Although, I don’t know how practical this is. I’m not going to let my hunting buddy take the reins on my dog no matter how much I like him, nor is he going to do that for me. I also have an old Tri-tronics collar (~1990) that you have to change the contact points on the collar to change the intensity level. It was a pretty good collar in its day. The problem is that in changing situations (distractions) you can’t increase the power to fit the need. One of my training partners purchased the same Dogtra trainer that I have in the one-dog model and has really liked it. Another training partner is getting ready to purchase the DT H2O 1800. I look forward to seeing this collar in action, so I have another one to compare between. I think most of these collars are comparable. The things I look for are receiver size (small), adequate range (my opinion is that ½ mile is plenty – beyond that and you can’t see your dog to properly know when you should correct and when you shouldn’t), ease of use, range of power settings – especially at the low end, and finally warrantee service.

  • Still Fencing

    Old Labrador enjoying the spring sun

    We’re still fencing the yard. I found that I broke the sprinkler pipe in three places. One of them I knew about and fixed, the other two I didn’t until the water welled up and washed everying away.

    The dogs are really enjoying the warmer weather, especially the older ones. Chandra loves to go out in the pasture and bask in the sun in the cool grass. Allie of course, is still in lock down and lets us know that she is not happy about it.

  • Dogs Heat Cycle

     Allie in Lock Down - Dog's heat cycle

    Allie, our twenty month old lab is in heat for the first time, so she is in lock down. Man, that’s a pain. We have to keep her and her brother Zeke well separated. She has a lid on the kennel and we wrapped the sides with chicken wire to prevent any through-the-fence visitors. And she sulks in the house when she has to wear a pair of kids underwear with a hole cut for her tail. The kids thought that was funny looking. To tell the truth, the neighbors think it kind of strange as well.

    Some things to remember about the heat cycle: it usually occurs for the first time between 6 to 12 months, but may be as late as 24 months. The full cycle usually take about six months, so the actual estrous period comes about twice a year. However, a friend’s German Shorthair has had her last two cycles 3 months apart. There are 4 parts to the cycle: 1.) proestrous – begins with vaginal bleeding and lasts 4 to 9 days. Males become very interested in the female, but she does not accept them. They often feel kind of mopey and lie around.  2.) Estrus – discharge shifts to more yellowish than bloody and is ususlly lasts for 4 to 12 days. The vulva will usually swell and may even be flagged or winked around a male. This is the period when she is most fertile and willing to willing to accept the male. By nature, she will stand and hold her tail to the side when you press on her back or when the male tries to mount. 3.) Metestrus and anestrus are periods of the ovarian cycle, but with no outward signs.

    Keep in mind that you may easily miss the first day or two of the heat, and they may take longer or shorter than the norm to move through the cycle. Consider her to be in season for 21 days: 7 early heat, 7 days in season, and 7 days late season. Though conception is most likely to occur when they are in full season, due to individual variation and sperm life, it may occur anytime during the 21 days, so you have to keep them confined the whole time. Something else to remember is that she may attract dogs from all over town and males during this period like to mark everything that seems like a good scent post, like kennel corners, house corners, fence posts, standing bags of dog food, the car tire, whatever.

    I have also heard many stories of neighborhood dogs (several specific to Australian Shepards) climbing a 6’ kennel and breeding a female in heat. I have also heard stories of dog breeding through chain link kennels, so be aware. Please think through breeding your dog very carefully before breeding your dog. Think of your young female’s health first, and remember that there are lots of very good, proven breeders out there. Visit the local animal shelter and see how many puppies end up there before you proceed.

  • Dog Fencing

    Brittany helps fence yard - dog fence

    We are fencing the backyard to allow the dogs a place to run. We are using treated posts at 6′ intervals with netwire (2″x4″ field fence). As you can see, the dogs were a big help. They won’t have free run of the yard, but in the morning, it will give them a place to romp and wrestle for 20 – 30 minutes before breakfast. The fence will make life a lot easier and allow the dogs more freedom. 

    Our typical schedule is to get up at seven and tie them out for about an hour. Then the morning training. Then into the kennel for the day, until about five when I get home. Then, we go out for a three to five mile run followed by the afternoon training session. Then we’re all inside or around the house for dinner and chores. The evening training session is just before bed at ten. 

  • Two things I love about Spring – Turkeys & Morels

    Merriam's Turkey - Paunsagaunt Unit   Yellow Morels Black Morels

    Two of my favorite things about spring: Hunting wild turkeys and hunting wild morels. Oh yeah, and eating BBQ turkey and sauteed morels.

    The turkey was a Merriam’s turkey from the Paunsagaunt unit in southern Utah (near Tropic Reservoir) and the morels came from a top secret spot somewhere nearby. All in the same day. What a day!

    I’d like to say that the dogs helped out somehow (my awesome truffel sniffing hounds), but they didn’t.

    Sauteed Morels

  • Kids & dogs – socialization

    German shorthair pointer socialization

    It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of socialization with dogs. Thankfully my kids are more than willing to help. Sarah loves to take the dogs for walks on lead, and Samuel, when Sarah is at school loves to play spiderman on the kennels, wrestle and play with the dogs (currently Josie a sweet, but energetic pointer is his favorite), and when he is tired, Sam likes to lay in the sun on top of the dog house where it is warm. You couldn’t ask for better socialization. 

    Canine Socialization kids and dogs

  • Developing your hunting buddy – Taking kids outdoors

    Sarah's First Pheasant Hunt

    If you want your kids to grow up to be your hunting buddies, you have to start when they are young, not unlike a puppy I guess. Start them out early under the right conditions and they’ll learn to love the outdoors. Their desire to come with me when I go out to hunt or train is a huge reward for me. It makes the cold feet and whining all worthwhile.

    This photo of Sarah was quite a few years back. It was her first hunting trip with Dad and she thought it was pretty cool. She was pretty proud of that rooster. We did have to draw the line at her taking it to her room to play with. Sarah is one kid that knows where food really comes from.

    Take your kids outdoors with you, a little sacrifice and investment now will pay off big dividends in the future.

    Grouse hunting with kids and puppies

  • Spring Cleaning – Moving the Kennels

    Best Dog Kennel DesignÂ

    It’s warming up and it’s time to move the kennels again, kind of like spring cleaning. The kennel system that I use is fully portable, in the winter I have it moved to the north side of the yard facing directly south to take advantage of the winter sun, and in the summertime it’s the opposite, I move it to get out of the direct sun and try to maximize the shade. Concrete kennel facilities are usually very nice, but once you put them in, there’s no moving them, especially every six months.

    I think that the most critical thing, however, is sanitation. Whatever you decide to use for your kennel floor, make sure you clean it regularly (daily, or at most every other day). The second thing is the dogs comfort, the dogs really seem to like basking in the full sun throughout the winter. In the summer, they want every bit of shade they can get, so being able to move the kennel is a great solution. If I had to choose one location/direction for the kennel, at least here is central Utah, I would be more concerned about the summer heat. A good insulated dog house can protect a dog in the winter, but there’s not much escape from the heat on a hot summer day.

    This weekend, for our spring cleaning, I moved the kennel to the south west side of the yard facing east. This location provides nice morning sun until about nine thirty in the morning, then the large elm trees overhead provide shade throughout the day until about six in the evening. I use the 5 x 10 Priefert kennels on top of a stained wooden deck (see post from March 5th). This particular floor is fairly new, but I have built and used similar deck floors for more than ten years. With annual staining and a little up-keep, the floor holds up nicely. The dog really seem to enjoy it, in the summer it is cool and circulates air underneath, in the winter it clears off dries quickly and is warm to walk on, also, it cleans up very quickly with a 4″ drywall knife and a quick squirt with the hose.

  • Retreiver Hunt Test

    Waiting at the line - Weber Retrievers Hunt Test

    I went to the Weber Retriever Hunt Test this last weekend and had a great time. The group there was very enjoyable to run with. They were supportive and helpful to each other and made for an all around fun day. It was held at the Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area on Willard Bay, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, UT.
    I have to say, all of the dogs were well behaved and well trained. It was a real pleasure to see the master dogs work.