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Message from the Director
by Frank O’Leary
The WR tests are filling up. If you have indicated you will be participating in a fall test, please submit your entry ASAP. If you have submitted your entry and realize you will be unable to participate please let the test coordinator know ASAP.
On September 29th, 30th and October 1st we will have a Solms/AZP/VGP/Zuchtschau in Hysham, MT. Mike Kennedy is the Test Coordinator for this event. Mike can be reached at 406-342-5616. There is room in the test for additional VGP dogs at this time. Judges for this test are Test Director Jeff Martin, John Calandra, and Leigh Betsch.
October 13th, 14th, and 15th there will be a Solms/AZP/VGP/Zuchtschau in Walla Walla, WA. Frank O’Leary is the Test Coordinator for this event and can be reached at 509-520-7483. At this time there is room for one Solms/AZP dog. Judges for this test are Test Director Francois Aldrich, Hubertus Krieger, Jörg Kaltenegger (VGP), and Joe Kelly (Solms).
Leading up to the fall tests we will be having training opportunities in Walla Walla, WA. Please be aware, it has been extremely dry in Walla Walla, the fields are dusty, and the water levels are very low. If you would like to participate in the training sessions please contact Frank O’Leary at 509-520-7483.
start at the finish
by Jeff Martin
The goal of the German Testing System is to have a dog that is 100% reliable at remaining stationary from the flight, shot and fall of all game and remain so until commanded to move.
At VGP level with a thoroughly trained versatile hunting dog, this is supposed to be done without the need for a single command. Under practical hunting situations this pays huge dividends where the hunter can have his undivided attention on the shooting rather than what his dog is doing. When hunting Chukars or Huns it’s common for the covey to flush as you approach but still a long distance from the pointing dog and it’s just as common to see singles or stragglers flush after you’ve shot at the first flush . A steady dog allows you to reload and take these singles birds in an efficient manner, rather than watching the unsteady dog dangerously in front of the guns chasing the covey over the rise and out of sight for 10 minutes wasting both time and energy, while you look for downed birds !?!
What I’m going to outline is a step by step approach trained under controlled conditions that will allow the dog to learn what’s expected, in small increments that will achieve a totally steady dog with zero commands needed, with the added bonus that the dog will stop to wild flushes of undetected game without a single command. Many people use the “ knock’em down , beat’em up , drag’em out “ approach but this is totally unnecessary if taught in a step by step approach with the dog clearly understanding what it’s expected to do at each step before moving onto the next.
When to start ?? I’m a big believer in avoiding bad habits that then have to be fixed later, its wasting time. For this reason I don’t like to see young dogs chasing and possibly catching birds in training and another reason I don’t believe in hunting a dog before its thoroughly under control. This is a common mistake with rooky trainers and young dogs eager to see their dog “hunting”, one or two experiences like this, then the flush and shot becomes the “go“ command , the complete opposite to what you want !! With very young dogs initially it’s a great idea to get them out into swamps and fields to build confidence and desire with
exposure to game BUT the big difference is they will rarely catch anything and be rewarded for chasing. Wild birds don’t get caught!!
Remember train to the age and progress of your individual dog. If your dog is say 18 months old and is entered in a Derby, steadiness isn’t required at this test but at this age your training will likely have progressed to Solms requirements and you will be doing the Solms or fall test in another 4mths where having a dog pointing with some control IS required. Note at Solms level the dog only has to hold point until the handler gets within shotgun range and can flush the bird. The dog can chase a little at the flush but should be easily brought under control with voice commands. I’ve had dogs at Solms level completely steadiness-trained even at 1 year old in an effort to avoid establishing chasing that will then have to be corrected.
3 dogs in 1, Remember you are training:
- the pointer (high headed field searching and scenting, then hesitating when game detected)
- the retriever (try to catch or collect without any hesitation when game detected)
- the tracker ( head down tracking or trailing a scent to retrieve without hesitation ).
ALL are opposing instincts and the dog should be taught with cues what is needed and when. Some dogs whether naturally or through training are more retrieving dominant than pointing, this method of teaching the dog steadiness, manners and self-control around live birds actually improves the dogs pointing. You adjust the balance between pointing and retrieving. Continue Reading . . .
by Jad Swingle
I came to upland bird hunting later than most, but the spark occurred when I was a kid and encountered a couple German Shorthaired Pointers in the back of a pickup truck. They were my best friend’s cousin’s dogs, and in my child’s mind, they were mythical beasts. To watch them work in the field was otherworldly. It was my first encounter with hunting dogs and it stuck with me.
I grew up outside Seattle, always with dogs and cats. I roamed the woods with the dogs. This was before parents would worry about such things. We would hunt for birds, and deer and raccoon, and I tried to train my dog to follow a scent. My parents weren’t interested in hunting, and we were a long ways from any good bird hunting, so it remained a fantasy.
Schooling and my career took me to Chicago, and Madison and New York City - living in a tiny walk-up apartment on the lower eastside of Manhattan. As wonderful as New York City was, I longed for the country, and the mountains. I think that’s when my childhood memory came back to me, and I started to dream of upland hunting with a short hair.
I met Liz in New York City. She grew up in on a farm in the Pennsylvania countryside. She had grown up around animals and hunting, but had never done much herself. We found that we shared a love of the outdoors and adventure. When our careers allowed it, we moved back to Seattle. Shortly thereafter we got our first German shorthair. We trained him to hunt, or honestly he trained us to hunt. He loved to work, had a great nose, was steady on point, and retrieved with a soft mouth. He was relentless in pursuing winged birds, going over barbed wire and through streams.
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