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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been away for a few days to visit friends who have one of my pups, and to do some training with his sister, they are full brother and sister but from two different litters.

Boots, Tarimoor Romtickle (or as they like to call him, Mr Bumtickle) is doing so, so well, I couldn't be more proud of him. We did a little bit of ringcraft training and I picked up some really useful tips on how to get a dog standing well and not pulling forward to you which can ruin the neck line as they are looking almost directly up. Boots is looking super, Branta is looking good, has filled out well but I'd like to see her head mature a bit more.

Then there was the gundog training. As it was so, so hot we did mainly water retrieves. I wasn't expecting much from Boo as I've really only done basics, basics and more basics with her, but actually she did brilliantly. She was steady, her heel work was nice and she went further than I've ever sent her over water. When I've measured it on Google maps, it's about 50m at the point we were sending them over, and the light was a mixture of dark shade and bright sunlight on the water. She wasn't the best at marking initially, but once she got the hang of it, she was over a few times to pick the dummy and come back with it, and my new theme tune is Kate Bush, Running up that Hill, which we did as she came out of the water to get her to bring the dummy without dropping it. The last retrieve of day 1 gundog training, she did a fantastic blind, then a fantastic long water retrieve and that was it.

The second day of water retrieves, she was a bit flat, her little brain was frazzled so we went for a few memories and blinds instead, and a retrieve over a smaller inlet of water where we trained the 'over' and a fantastic blind on a pheasant feather print dummy she actually trod on at one point as it was in thick leaves, then kept hunting as I asked her to on the hunt whistle, and picked and brought to hand.

We got home yesterday, absolutely shattered and are having a rest day today. But I couldn't be more proud of my pups, I'd hoped they would be capable of both working and showing and they certainly are proving that. Here's a very tired Boo xx

Dog Dog breed Carnivore Companion dog Working animal
 

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Showing is actually a lot harder than it looks. It’s hard to criticize photos as people get offended. Head lower and forward (bait by the right hip works well) and the front legs usually are in a much better position too. Two of my lot have learnt the precise position. They’ll reposition themselves if a pesky judge interferes with foot position. In fact I’m pretty sure we did well today partly because of the work we did on presentation. The other handlers hadn’t really got a clue
 

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We had a big full length mirror at my old club for the ringcraft class. So handlers could actually see their dog as the judge sees it. The other thing we occasionally did, I would take my video camera and a portable TV along, (This was many years before mobile phones) and film from the judge's perspective, then after all the dogs had been filmed play it back so the handlers could see where they were going wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We have mirrors at the ringcraft club I go along to, although I'm limited as to who I can take this week as the ratbag Weft decided to come in season on the very first day I was away. Fortunately my neighbours are used to dealing with in season bitches and have a large enclosed garden, and of course, they have her Uncle but he is neutered. Thankfully I was only away for a few days, so not time for her to become interesting to Luca.

Hmmmm, I know showing isn't easy, it's not just turn up and trot your dog round a ring, but I still don't think it compares to training a dog to retrieve a pricked hen pheasant that's gone in a different direction than the gun remembers and tucked itself way up off the ground in thick cover. Don't get me wrong, I'm rubbish at teaching a 'stand' and I know some show folk don't even teach a sit until they have a stand, but it is possible to do both and obviously a sit/stop is very useful with the gundog stuff. But in actual fact we got Branta standing nicely, there are different ways to teach them to stand (just as there are different ways of teaching most things, and Joy had a really good way of teaching them to look for a blind retrieve as well) and the way my ringcraft club showed me, which is a very common way of doing it, just didn't work, she comes in too close in an endeavour to be closer to the treats on the chair or in my hand. But what Joy showed me, was to throw the treat just over her back, let her get it, and after just a few of those sort of rewards she was standing back far enough so her neck wasn't craning up, and also looking with a lovely expression waiting to see if another one would be thrown. Very simple and very, very effective.

But no, my main problem with Branta is that she's essentially a lockdown puppy, born in July 2019 just as we were entering our first lockdown she was entering one of the fear stages and we didn't really see anyone except some of my neighbours and then had to maintain distance. Then when social bubbles came in, she already knew the people within those social bubbles but didn't really meet anyone new, or any new circumstances. Unlike some who chose to use the advice to exercise for 30 minutes a day and drove out of their area to do so, we didn't and stuck to the rules, and so now my main job is to reverse all that isolation and get her used to things that she hadn't ever had chance to see previously.
 

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my main problem with Branta is that she's essentially a lockdown puppy, born in July 2019 just as we were entering our first lockdown she was entering one of the fear stages and we didn't really see anyone
That can really put them back as I know only too well. I'd only had Chloe a week before I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and for a year I spent more time in hospital than at home. And when I was home I never felt like doing anything. What Chloe is and knows is really in spite of me rather than because of me.
 

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I do a mixture of everything with mine. Yes, I know show folk that don’t teach a sit but they have different breeds. Labs are pretty good and I teach a basic sit, stand command from early on. It’s the stand, walk around so you’re never between your dog and the judge that’s more tricky 🤣🤣. Gundoggery stuff is pretty cool too but some dogs (even labs 🤣😉) don’t get it. Poppy is one of those but she’s so biddable and the obedience work floats her boat. We’re going to give hoopers a go too which will hopefully complement the gundog work on the distance command front. It’s all good fun and the dogs love the different activities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That can really put them back as I know only too well. I'd only had Chloe a week before I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and for a year I spent more time in hospital than at home. And when I was home I never felt like doing anything. What Chloe is and knows is really in spite of me rather than because of me.
Yes, and it has, but we'll get there. A little bit of gentle socialisation and getting her used to other people handling her is what I need. Joy could handle her for me, but oh my goodness she was so, so desperate to get back to me.

I do a mixture of everything with mine. Yes, I know show folk that don’t teach a sit but they have different breeds. Labs are pretty good and I teach a basic sit, stand command from early on. It’s the stand, walk around so you’re never between your dog and the judge that’s more tricky 🤣🤣. Gundoggery stuff is pretty cool too but some dogs (even labs 🤣😉) don’t get it. Poppy is one of those but she’s so biddable and the obedience work floats her boat. We’re going to give hoopers a go too which will hopefully complement the gundog work on the distance command front. It’s all good fun and the dogs love the different activities.
It was a Labrador person I was chatting to who doesn't teach the sit at all until they're over 12 months of age. She was thinking about having a dabble at the gundog stuff, which hopefully she will as I think both are good fun. I've found with my girls gundog stuff is like a light bulb moment, Branta was swimming through very tempting wildfowl but her little brain was telling her they weren't what I wanted, and she ignored them completely to go after the dummies when she marked them. As I keep my girls on the left, the traditional side for heelwork, it's usually pretty easy to ensure they are in between me and the judge, unless they make you do some sort of unusual turn, which I don't think is very frequent from what I gather. I'll probably be taking Branta this week to ringcraft so we'll see how we get on this week! In the meantime I'll have to wait until it's cooled down in the evening to carry on gundog training, it's been quite hot even ooop Norf in Yorkshire.
 

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Keeping your dog on your left isn’t always the way to go. When moving fine but get a judge that moves from side to side (and they can do that) and you have to adjust and maybe change hands and sides. Same if the judge is going over a dog from a different direction, you have to know how to adapt. If the judge is going up and down the line looking at heads for example, or moving around the dogs, you need to make sure you aren’t in the way. It’s not just a matter of running up and down and in a circle/triangle. It’s understanding your dogs movement, adapting to the size of the ring, if there’s any slope or uneven ground, knowing what speed to move at for the various different types of movement. You don’t go at the same speed for an out and back as you would for running a circle. If you’ve a big dog who may get out of balance when doing a triangle do you push them in a triangle and put them out of balance or do a small circle at each corner. Does your dog stack immediately on finishing a movement or do they stack more naturally if you walk into a stack? Rhetorical question. Presentation is the difference between winning or missing out, especially if there’s little to choose between dogs. It’s why pro handlers exist. It is a real skill and can make a difference between winning and not winning, whether we like it or not.

I believe it has been a bit warm in the UK 🤣🤣 warm enough for me to take a jumper off.
 

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You want to try the KC's Junior Handling tests! I used to demonstrate with my Beth because she would handle equally on the fore or back. The object is to never get between the dog and the judge. A figure 8 is always fun because your dog is always having to change sides, passing behind while going away from the judge, but passing in front of you when going towards the judge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Keeping your dog on your left isn’t always the way to go. When moving fine but get a judge that moves from side to side (and they can do that) and you have to adjust and maybe change hands and sides. Same if the judge is going over a dog from a different direction, you have to know how to adapt. If the judge is going up and down the line looking at heads for example, or moving around the dogs, you need to make sure you aren’t in the way. It’s not just a matter of running up and down and in a circle/triangle. It’s understanding your dogs movement, adapting to the size of the ring, if there’s any slope or uneven ground, knowing what speed to move at for the various different types of movement. You don’t go at the same speed for an out and back as you would for running a circle. If you’ve a big dog who may get out of balance when doing a triangle do you push them in a triangle and put them out of balance or do a small circle at each corner. Does your dog stack immediately on finishing a movement or do they stack more naturally if you walk into a stack? Rhetorical question. Presentation is the difference between winning or missing out, especially if there’s little to choose between dogs. It’s why pro handlers exist. It is a real skill and can make a difference between winning and not winning, whether we like it or not.

I believe it has been a bit warm in the UK 🤣🤣 warm enough for me to take a jumper off.
Well all the shows I've been to thus far have been away, turn to the left, turn back to the judge for the triangle. We do practise swapping the lead hand at ringcraft, but I've never yet had to change over hands at a show, although I've only got limited experience. I believe I did acknowledge above that it's not just a matter of turning up with your dog and trotting it round a ring, getting the gait right, getting the 'stand' is all important, as I was discussing when we did the training, a good judge would know anyway if a dog had good conformation if a leg wasn't in the right place, but you make their life so much easier, and grab their attention if you manage to get your dog stood well. I'm avoiding stacked for Labradors as I just don't like it, the precise placing of paws and holding out the tail just puts me off completely, don't get me started on the things that go on in the bulldog ring!!

Going back to the working side, a recent working test I helped out at, the dogs had to ignore me shooting a blank as a distraction, and find a blind through a line of trees, now that takes some training. What I observed was that once the dogs hit the line of trees they then lose the confidence to carry on in a straight line. Bearing in mind this is over a fence, over a stream, through a treeline and the dummy was next to a tree stump, probably about 300 yards from the handler. A lot of dogs failed, they hit the tree line and then decided there MUST be some other direction for them to take, something I took on board to train for in the future.



You want to try the KC's Junior Handling tests! I used to demonstrate with my Beth because she would handle equally on the fore or back. The object is to never get between the dog and the judge. A figure 8 is always fun because your dog is always having to change sides, passing behind while going away from the judge, but passing in front of you when going towards the judge.
Yeah, ass over elbow comes to mind!
 

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By stacking I mean freestanding. We don’t hand stack in Europe it’s just the yanks that seem to do that. I hate it too. Some retriever breeds they do, I take that back. I’ve had a go at presenting a curly where you generally handstack while just in front of the judge before they go over them on when in a lineup but freestand after moving.

The issue with the tree line could be the contrast in light and shade. It puts a lot of dogs off. We’ve been training for that in my gundog training sessions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
By stacking I mean freestanding. We don’t hand stack in Europe it’s just the yanks that seem to do that. I hate it too. Some retriever breeds they do, I take that back. I’ve had a go at presenting a curly where you generally handstack while just in front of the judge before they go over them on when in a lineup but freestand after moving.

The issue with the tree line could be the contrast in light and shade. It puts a lot of dogs off. We’ve been training for that in my gundog training sessions.
Well goldies are hand stacked, not really noticed the others, but Labradors and flatties are definitely free stood in the UK, thank goodness! My knees would give up with all the hand stacking in that instance.

Hmmmmm, no, they were sent through varying light it was literally as if hitting a line of trees meant end of retrieve, something probably a lot of them hadn't trained for. They'd probably trained for going over a fence, over a wall etc, but not through a line of trees. Just goes to show, you can train as much as you like, but you learn something new about how dogs think when you watch them work.
 
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