The following is a “Pass Along Email” from the Retriever Journal. I don’t recall receiving Part 1, but here’s Part 2.
Tracking Part 2: Water
by Chuck Johnson
As we recounted last issue, just because your retriever has a good nose, doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows the vital skill of tracking. We reviewed how easy it is to actually teach the skill of tracking in the uplands – and teach it, you should. Sure, your dog might eventually learn the ropes if he has a good nose, but actively teaching it will put you ahead of the game. Those same tracking skills need to be taught on the water, too.
As a waterfowl hunter, you know the drill: A duck is dropped and isn’t seen by the retriever. Sometimes he is in the midst of making another retrieve or, possibly, his sight is obscured from the location within the blind. If crippled, even hand signals won’t be able to direct the dog to the downed bird. You can put him in the area, but after that, it’s up to him and his nose. In other words, he has to do an independent duck search.
Bob Farris of Cedarwood Pudelpointers – who spent six years training and trialing Chesapeakes in AKC retriever field trials – and Blanche and I visited Linda Harger of Fireweed Chesapeakes. Linda is one of the most successful breeders and trainers of Chessies. She has trained a number of national championship dogs in the field trial arena and her current Chessie, DC AFC Genny’s Yakity Yak, just qualified for their fifth National Championship. Linda has great training grounds, including a large pond with great cover. We used her pond, as Bob trains his pudelpointers there regularly, and used Linda’s dogs for this training exercise. A young Chessie named Comet was used to demonstrate a beginner’s role, and then Jamie, a new field trial candidate of Linda’s, was used to demonstrate a finished dog performing a duck search. Jamie immediately showed the value of duck search training by tracking her duck some 50 yards.
Here is the step by step for training your retriever to do an independent duck search:
1. Most retriever owners have trained or had someone train their dog to force retrieve. After force retrieve training, set your dog up and send him to a pile of five plastic dummies or paint rollers at several locations. Perform this exercise daily until the dog responds favorably and will retrieve all five independently, showing the enthusiasm seen prior to force retrieve training when a dummy was thrown. All the dummies can easily be seen in this exercise and are about 20 to 30 yards away. Put the dog up immediately following the exercise to help him absorb his success. It is important that you use a new command that tells your dog to hunt for the wounded duck. You can use “Find the bird,” “Dead bird,” “Hunt dead,” or any other command you feel comfortable with. Make sure you use the same command every time. The dog is told, “Dead bird” prior to sending to help him understand that this is a new game – and new expectations will soon surface.Ender
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“Tracking Part 2: Water” by Chuck Johnson appears in the upcoming December 2012/January 2013 issue of The Retriever Journal. Visit our Coming Soon page for a full Table of Contents and more excerpts!
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