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We start our season at the end of October. Oak will be 17 months old. He will have had cold game and been on a training day which is a proper 50 bird shooting day.

I pick up on a shoot twice a week, with a 200 bird bag. In the past I have taken young dog along, kept on lead, and let old dog do all hard bits, letting young dog pick easier birds at end of drive. No problems. I never intended to compete so steadiness wasn't an issue.

However Oak being so good to date has got me dreaming above my station about maybe trialing him one day, and I dont want to blow all my chances of ever being able to do so by spoiling him this season. So, how I am going to deal with picking up?

I was thinking of taking Oak out on the lead on some of the quieter drives, when I only need one other dog. I would also take either Fife or Ash and they could do most of the work. Then Oak could have one retrieve at the end, and / or sweep through afterwards. The drives where I need two dogs to work hard Oak would stay in the Landrover. Some drives are so busy that I really can't be concentrating on Fife and Ash working, and on Oak too. I am likely to teach him all sorts of bad habits. Added to which one of the other picking up dogs is a real fighter, so I need to keep half an eye out for him too, and I can't just relax that my dogs are working in their areaa, in case this goldie appears from the undergrowth and rips them apart (no exaggeration :evil: ).

But my concern is that although Oak is left in the vehicle when I take the others out, that is not in a hyper exciting shoot environment. I DO NOT want him spinning arund in the vehicle, nor learning to be noisy. He has never shown any sign of doing so, but he hasn't been in such exciting situations alone before.

Has anyone any advice as to how best to deal with this?

Thanks

Katy
 

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Katy

When I want to take a young dog out to gain game and shoot experience. I have only one older dog with me who is steady and quiet off the lead. I stand a really long way back from the drive with the younger dog sitting to heel next to the older dog both off the lead. The younger dog already needs to be steady from training throughout the summer months. The older dog needs to be completely quiet and not a dog that sits shaking with excitement and anticipation. At the end of the drive I wait a few moments after the whistle has blown and ask my older dog to sit and stay and take the younger dog forward and do one really easy retrieve. I then put the younger dog on the lead and ask the older dog to sweep. You can only do this on shoots where there are lots of other pickers up and you can stand away from them and other excitement. I only do this on one drive per shoot. I make sure my truck is parked a long way away from the drive, beaters and anyone else and for the rest of the day the youngster is in the truck so that I can do my work with my other dogs. I do this every time I go picking up which may be 3 or 4 times a week. I vary it so that sometimes the younger dog picks a bird before the older dog and sometimes it is the other way around. At the end of the day on the last drive I will sometimes just have all dogs including the youngest sweeping but I generally do this in heavy cover, either sugar beet or woodland not out in the open where birds can easily be seen. The youngster needs to learn to use his nose rather than his eyes. When I first do this the youngster will generally run around following another one of my dogs but after a few days he gets used to the fact that if he puts his nose down he might actually find something! Also make sure that you are able to stop the youngster taking birds from another dog when he/she brings back a retrieve - don't allow the youngster to pinch other dog's birds.

I do all this in a very calm manner - walking quite slowly whilst sweeping and don't go near anyone who is shouting or whistling a lot.

Hope this helps.

Sam
Rushbrigg Gundogs
 
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