It has been a wonderful winter in all parts of Dorset and a highly productive season for our gun dogs. So far for the beating and picking team it has been an enjoyable and challenging season as most of the team are new to this domain. As I continue my gun dog journey with Ivy I have realized that our training on a shoot day doesn’t always go according to plan. Fortunately on a small shoot like ours it is acceptable to be flexible when things don't go to plan and as a novice picker up it’s been a huge learning curve. Therefore I try to make a mental note on each shoot as to what I can work on outside of shoot days. I’m a firm believer most faults come from the handler and I don’t want to put pressure on Ivy during a shoot as this can cause more problems so our training days are a perfect way to go back to the basics or work on a specific area.
One of the many key lessons I’ve learnt is to reinforce the straight line retrieves. In between shoots days I have been practising memory retrieves to build on Ivy taking straight lines through cover and over obstacles. This has increased her confidence and strengthened our trust in asking her to take the line when I give her the command. "Dogs have emotions and we need to learn how to read their body language more accurately to become better trainers." By Graham Cox (2014)
One particular aspect of Ivy’s training which I constantly work on is her steadiness to shot. I realize she is new to the field and being a young dog she tends to get excited in the first drive. As I become more confident at reading Ivy's body language and understand her intentions I can (hopefully) prevent her running in.