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 featuresDave's Commentary

Tuesday, March 07, 2000

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I just received a call yesterday

from a gentleman who's Brittany I had trained last year. What makes this phone call so special is the news about how well the dog performed during huntin' season and now as a NSTRA (National Shoot To Retrieve Association) competitor.

You see, one thing we trainers pride ourselves on is bringing out the natural abilities a dog already possesses. I firmly believe that, with a gentle nudge, a dog can be trained to perform to the best of its ability AND maintain that natural fire that's in 'em.

I really detest the word 'broke' when it comes to a started or finished bird dog. While I do use the word myself since it is a widely known trainer's word, I still find its sound and meaning harsh which is exactly the opposite of how we train here at Chief's Brittanys.

Back to the phone call. This particular gentleman had heard of my techniques and drove down last year from what I believe is central Colorado. He had mentioned that he belonged to a Brittany club up there but I didn't pay it much attention. (I sowed my field trial oats and now that I live in a remote area, I fully enjoy just train', huntin', and guidin') I train dogs for the gentleman hunter and that just happens to agree with field trials and huntin' tests.

Anyways, the gentleman tells me on the phone that the dog is now qualified for some high fa-lutin' (sp?) regional championship and possibly, later, the Nationals. This young dog is only 18 months old!

When I trained the dog it was bustin' and chasin' (young pup) birds though it did come to its name and quarter O.K. I gave the dog some yard work and made the owner promise to never stop the yard work. The owner and I had some hands on time when he came down to pick her up...I Never train a dog 'less the owner agrees to be trained too -- I don't care how experienced the owner is...period!

The bottom line folks is that you gotta start with the fundamentals. The very first things we do is get 'em excited about birds if they're not already. Then we teach the basic yard work commands heel, whoa, quarter, come. We teach the owner to handle one of our finished dogs (OLE Chief or some good dog like that). Then we have 'em apply it to their dog. "Looks easy till you do it" they all say!

The important thing to remember is to never push a young dog too hard. While the lure of glory in field trials is great, it's best to never push your young prospect hard. Let 'em have fun hunting birds. Heck, when they're that young it's still one big party!

Hope you gleaned a little introspect and if not, I hope you enjoyed the visit. Y'all take care and drive careful going to your favorite hunting/training spots.

Happy huntin' and give your dog a treat for me...

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