Posts Tagged ‘retriever training’

Western Oregon doesn’t have many bogs. There are some cranberry bogs on the Pacific coast, and there are (or at least, were) bogs near the great Klamath Marsh in Central Oregon, from which a mummified body, named Peat Man, was unearthed during the winter of 1999.

But there aren’t the vast swaths of bog in Oregon as there are in Ireland, bogs where Irish Water Spaniels were used to hunt gamebirds and waterfowl, giving them the nickname “Bog Dogs”.

Then again, there are usually lots of small lakes and ponds in Oregon. But this spring, there just aren’t. They’re all dried or drying up.

Here’s one example: The Oregon bog you see my three IWS cavorting in (after a couple hours of field training) in the photo below is usually a shallow lake this time of year, not drying up until July.

Suavie Bog Dogs

Cooper, Tooey, and Carlin sittin’ in the bog

This year, it’s just three inches of undried up water filling the spaces between aquatic plants, creating a not-very muddy, but very squishy bog.


Russ and the three curly brown bog dogs

Even though there wasn’t any water to practice water retrieves with, there was plenty of firm cover alongside the bog to work on land retrieves.

Carlin started us out with three retrieves, all in a line with one another, one at 125 yards, another at 100 yards, and a third at about 50 yards. The hope is that he would start to learn to judge distances.

He found and delivered the first mark just fine. Unsurprisingly, for the second mark, he lasered out to where the first mark had fallen, and was a bit puzzled not to find his bumper in the same spot. He widened his search, and found the second mark. Then for the third mark, he went out to where the first mark had landed, then to where the second mark had landed, and wow! — no bumper in either place. So he widened his search again, and found the third bumper.

Cooper went next, with exactly the same drill. For him, who know distances pretty well, the challenge was staying steady at the line. Russ had to persuade him to come back into place and sit before releasing him to the retrieve. By now, though, this is a familiar ritual in itself. Both Russ and Cooper know how that dance goes.

Tooey went last. Instead of retrieves, for her we planted a frozen chukar in deep cover, and sent her from about 60 yards away to go find it. After repeating that several times in different locations, we repeated the same exercise with the two boys (with Carlin’s distance shortened up to about 25 yards). All three did a very nice job, finding and delivering the rapidly defrosting bird.

So, work done, it was time to play, to go get wet and cool, dogs a’bogging.


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Staying steady at the water, that is, waiting to be sent to go retrieve something out of the water, is not an intuitive skill for dogs. Cooper still has a very hard time with this, and it was only with frequent training that Russ was able to keep Cooper steady enough for long enough to pass his retriever and spaniel senior-level hunting tests.

So I had my doubts as to how easily Carlin could learn this skill. Take a look at how he’s doing so far:

I was so pleased to see these videos of Carlin staying steady at the water on the Tuxedo Kennels page of Facebook, and I’m thrilled with how well Carlin is doing with Richard.

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Russ has been working with Carlin and a place board. The concept is that you place on the ground a low box with defined edges, called a place board, and that whenever the pup has all four feet on the board, rewards rain from the sky.

Carlin loves this game (at least with few distractions and short duration), and he’s happy to run to the board and sit or down on it whenever Russ gets it out.


But eventually, the game must end. A couple of days ago, Russ put the board up, but Carlin wasn’t quite done experimenting with what interactions with the box might win him more treats.


When Russ sent me the picture, it reminded me of Ruth Bernhard’s “Nude in a Box”.


Not quite the same. Bernhard’s nude was a girl. Wonder what kind of treats she was getting…

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