Saturday, October 5, 2019

Cover, Forage, and Birds

On a recent training trip through Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota, this summer, a few observations were made regarding water, cover, feed, and birds. Early in our arrival, even though it was late in the summer season, most of the cover was a lush green; a product of the heavy snow this past winter, late spring rains, and scattered summer thunderstorms. There was a good amount of natural cover and CRP available which didn't really begin to cure-out until about the first week in September. All the CRP, native grasses and sedges, held a ton of hoppers, which was good to see, as hoppers are an important source of protein for young birds. Most of our finds were on Sharptails and bird-work was good. Almost every time the dogs were put down coveys were found; the coveys were made up of both young and old birds. Some finds were of a hen and her clutch, the young old enough to fly well but still distinguishable in size from the mature bird.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Pups Roading

The pups have graduated from being walked in harness, to roading off the ATV. At 8-months-old they are being run at about a third the speed as the big dogs, and only for a short time; maybe 15-minutes every other day. Initially I started both pups side-by-side figuring the pups would focus on running against each other, and not all the other extraneous things going on; quad noise, butterflies, songbirds; I was wrong. Sammi did not want to be rigged-up next to her sister, so I put her to the rear of Ella, off the back roading bar, and had her chasing; that worked. I ran them front and back a few times, and then transitioned Sammi to the front left, opposite Ella's front right position. This seems to be working. It's important to remember pups are not 100% focused on running off the quad, their attention span is short, and will often jump side-to-side chasing butterflies, hoppers, songbirds, whatever. To minimize any danger and potential Vet bills, I run them with bars fully extended and with a short chain so that when they bob side-to-side, and they will, they can't run under a wheel, which could easily break a leg or tear some soft tissue. Off to the races....

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Pups in Harness

Ella in harness with Indian Head in background
In the picture above Indian Head Express (Ella), now 6-months old, is in harness and pulling with conviction. "Indian Head" (Keefer Summit), the rock outcrop from which the prefix of my dogs' registered names was inspired, sits majestically in the background.
As a rule, at between 5- and 6-months of age, I like to start walking my pups in a harness; getting them in harness and just letting them pull to the front at the end of a check cord. Starting a pup in harness on the ground makes the transition to running alongside an ATV, while  attached to a roading bar, a little easier; the pup has already been introduced to the harness, has been pulling in it, and can make the transition to running alongside the ATV much faster than if you were to just harness the pup up and put him/her alongside the machine. When transitioning to the ATV, I generally start pups at a walk, because the sound of the machine, it's movement, and being in close proximity to it, can be quite an intimidating distraction for a young dog. Some pups fall right into the program and just start roading agressively, while others take some time to adjust; it may take a few short sessions and some patience on the handlers part to get a pup on track. Once a pup gets the feel for things, I put them in with the big dogs, and its off to the races.....

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Indian Head Intrigue - Jill
Jill is about 18-months old and coming along nicely. She has a great nose, style, amazing ground-speed, an edgy demeanor, and isn't afraid to get out front and run; she handles, and wants to come and go with me.  She was run in a few field trials last season and was placed as a derby, then we hunted her and got her into some wild birds. Now I'm working on getting her broke; steady to wing and shot. In the picture above she's anticipating being cast-off into the bird field. All her contacts in the field have been positive, her point is stylish and intense, her chase has been shortened-up,

Monday, May 27, 2019

Initial Training II

Sammi and Ella staked-out

At 16-weeks Sammi and Ella are coming along nicely. Most recently, both pups have been introduced to the stakeout. Initially they didn't care too much for the stake and chain, and its restraint; they pulled at it, bit it, flopped-around trying to get away from it, whimpered, cried, and made a big fuss. After they settled-down a bit, I fed them, and their view of the stakeout changed a bit. I've had them on stakeout four times, each time with six to eight other dogs; the two pups in the middle, with the older dogs on each side. I think the company of other dogs is good when making this transition from "puppy freedom" to a world of more obedience.
Both are still outfitted with their fixed checkcords and have been introduced to the full-size version with which I've begun their initial work on the "here" command. Both pups new what "here" means before their introduction to the checkcord, but now I'm starting to enforce the command, making sure that they come to me whenever I call them.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Broke on Pigeons

Indian Head Whiski (Jim) standing his birds
Both Jim and Pete are pointing their birds (pigeons) and holding at the flush and shot. In the bird field both dogs are still dragging a check cord and are equipped with an e-collar as they have been throughout the entire training process. As noted in an earlier blog, I do not work my dogs into birds with the cord, I use it to stop them, at some point in their bird-work, when they decide to chase. I believe that check cording dogs into birds can create a number of problems which stem from the handler "whoaing a dog up" when they think the dog is in the scent cone; I like the dog to tell me it's got the bird. The next step in the process is to introduce them to liberated birds.....

Friday, May 17, 2019

Initial Training

Ella and Sammi at 14-weeks with checkcords
Both Ella and Sammi have been outfitted with checkcords; a piece of 3-foot long,1/4-inch, heavy-duty nylon cord, fixed to their collars.  At about 13-weeks, I fix a checkcord to the collar of my puppy. This is the pups initial introduction to yard work. The pup will drag this little checkcord around for the next month; eating, sleeping, running, walking and tripping over it; breaking itself to the lead. After a month of living with that cord, there is no reaction from the pup when I clip it to a lead to start it's initial yard work. The pup just goes about business; no attacking the lead, no rolling around in the dirt to escape, no biting, no pulling, no whining, no whimpering; the pup doesn't focus on the lead, the pup is ready to go to work.