"Much like your work schedule, mine seems to be 24 hours a day. But busy work schedules shouldn't mean we can't train our own bird dogs effectively. And while some of us may not have "4 days a week" to train them, or the desire to send our pups off to be trained, my wish is that I'll find the understanding dog trainer, whose knowledge is evident, and who will warmly welcome my weekly calls, texts, and voicemails as he guides me in training our family's 2 new puppies; Sidney & Violet.
Alec Sparks, of Snowbound Kennels, is that trainer making my wish come true. As a most respected industry writer, his persona is exactly what I was looking for. Please know the following is not "formal training" but rather "macro concepts" delivering a strong foundation.
Here are a few quotes from Alec that led me to believe he was the right man.
Your dog, and no-one else, should set the pace to his or her progressions (or TLO's; Targeted Learning Objectives). Why is this important? Because overwhelmingly, people have a difficult time dealing with non-linear progression and non-set timelines.
There is no schedule and there is never any need to "catch up". Forget about "the Joneses" & forget about what your pups "should know by now".
Remember, your couldn't enter 2nd grade until you completed 1st grade. It will be the same thing with your pup"
The Pups: Sidney: Inspiringly and gracefully named after Sir Sidney Poitier; finest actor, humanitarian, activist, and gentleman. Violet: Lovingly named after the color of lavender; used at the end of our wedding, more than 23 years ago instead of rice.
Line: Omar Mera's Calderonensis Line Of Fine English Pointers Calderon of Ecuador Whelped: October 7, 2020 The Wish & Goal: Ready for Sharptails by September 2021
Omar Mera; Founder of The Calderonensis Line Of Fine English Pointers
Even though I've trained 4 bird dogs in my life, I feel Sidney & Violet are the first dogs I've ever trained!😂 For the next 12 months, I will be posting their ongoing progression. I am confident with Alec's guidance, their foundation will be a strong one; lasting for years to come.
Targeted Learning Objective #1;WHOA December 28, 2020 @ 10 Weeks Old Repetitive practices during different scenarios. During walks, I'll pull on the leash & release; not holding them there under the pressure of my pull.
Targeted Learning Objective #2;COME BACK @ 10 Weeks Old On our daily river walks, I hide when they get too far away and whistle them back. Over the past week, their range has been reduced by their own choice; fitting my hunting style perfectly as I love close working bird dogs. As I told Alec I want to develop this closer working style because it works specifically for my hunting preference. Additionally, I agree with Alec and fully understand this is an anomaly. This is the best part about Alec; he is willing to work a dog along the wishes of any client.
Targeted Learning Objective #3;GUN BREAKING @ 10 Weeks Old While I feed them (and during other scenarios as well), I will carefully introduce them to spontaneous & unexpected noises; increasing the volume as we go. Gun breaking them is my largest concern.
Targeted Learning Objective #4;INTRODUCTION TO BIRDS @ 14 Weeks Old. The only objective I had for Sidney and Violet on their first day meeting a game bird was that they see this as so much fun, they smell birds, feathers, etc and that they simply watch them fly away. That’s it. No more, no less. And yes....for some ungodly, incredibly inconsiderate reason, I forgot to film little Violet and feel awful about it. 😩😩😢 Her video coming soon!😀❤️
Targeted Learning Objective #5;WHOA @ 15 Weeks Old in different scenarios ( Long & short Whoa)
Targeted Learning Objective #6;2nd & 3rd INTRODUCTION TO BIRDS @ 20 Weeks (without saying Whoa & no shooting)
Targeted Learning Objective #3 (Continuation);GUN BREAKING Started "Making Noise" @ 10 weeks old & Video on right is at @ 22 Weeks.
There is no question this TLO, was our largest concern. About 3 years ago, our Clumber Spaniel Rose was gun broke. Then, one day we went afield and all of a sudden, she wasn't anymore. I had never seen this before and it made me ultra cautious. Since then, we have been working to get her back to being gun broke. It has been a slow process. With Violet & Sidney, I have been obsessed in ensuring we risk as little as possible. The problem in this equation is me; for my nerves and excessive worry (stemming from what happened with Rose) is evident to all, including both puppies.So we started almost 3 months ago to "make noise" by banging pots during meals, then clapping real loud at different times throughout the day, then banging cutting boards on our park walks, to finally using a small cap gun.
Targeted Learning Objective #7 (60 days prior to July 7): CHECK CORDING & THE TRANSITION TO On The E-Collar @ 9 months of age, we made the successful transition.
After check cording them for roughly 60 days, we eventually made the transition to the E-collar. There were 3 commands we wanted to accomplish; call back, turn direction and whoa. During the past 60 days, I would use about a 20 foot check cord and with either a whistle or verbal commands, I would tug, tug them to turn direction, pull them back to me when I call them back, and tug tug them to a stop while saying WHOA. The point was to let them feel the tug when a command was given; giving them a direction to go on with the command and tug. This was critical because when we would transition them to the e-collar, we would replace the tug tug with an e-collar bump bump. Now they would now know what was required of them. A common mistake is using the e-collar on a dog and expecting him/her to know , without any clue,what the bump means or what you want them to do after to bump them.
Targeted Learning Objective #8 : FIRST THREE OFFICIAL HUNTS post much practice of Whoa'ing, Recall, & Turning @ 12 months of age, the below are the first three official hunts Sidney & Violet did.