Series 9 of the National Retriever Championship is underway. There is only the final 10 Series to run today and we will have ourselves a new retriever champion for the 2013 season. Watch as the last few teams compete for the title of National Field Champion (NFC)
I will be leaving for the National Retriever Championship in the morning. I have once again been invited to join the Retriever News Team to provide a LIVE BLOG coverage of the play by play action of these fine animals we know as Retrievers. Hope you can all join in the excitement by following our coverage. The competition coverage of the event will begin on Sunday Nov.17. However, we will be BLOGGING prior to Sunday about some of the meetings, cocktail party, and other cool happenings that surround this momentous event in the competitive retriever world. So come one come all and share the fun.
Watch the BLOG coverage as the best of the best compete against one another arriving at the WINNER after the six days and ten series of tests!
When I return from the National Open Retriever Championship Bay Blue Kennels will begin our journey to our southern home in Giddings, TX at the Homestead Ranch. We look forward to beginning the Winter Season on Dec. 1, 2013. Thank you everyone for all of your support this Summer/Fall. Tera’s Training Tip Of The Day will also resume on Dec. 1, 2013. Enjoy the National Open Retriever Championship!
As temperatures drop in the North and the waterfowl migration intensifies putting your canine in the frigid waters can be dangerous. Teaching your retriever to adequately shake off excess water can help them keep warm. Carrying an auto shammy towel to wipe additional water from your retrievers coat is also an added protection against Hypothermia.
Many trainer’s are reluctant to train in water that is less than 52’F. It is not that the retriever can not with stand these temperatures, but maintaining a good water attitude for any retriever is important. Although, most trainer’s expose their retrievers to cooler waters they do not make it a regular regiment to train in it. There are several reasons why, but the primary is the attitude. A retriever with a good attitude about working in water will do anything asked of them when conditions are not necessarily ideal. Let’s face it, in hunting and competitive situations they are consistently far from ideal.
In training where variables can somewhat be controlled why not put your retriever in the ideal situations. Your retriever will have better brain power if their bodies are not using valuable energy to maintain body heat. Your retriever will effectively learn the skills,having a willing attitude in order to knock it out of the park on game day when conditions are challenging. If you maintain your retriever’s good water attitude you will have a dog that will make good choices and give it their all in water work on a consistent basis.
Tera’s Training Tip Of The Day: Going The Distance.
All dogs love to run, but teaching a retriever to mark birds at great distances is a whole other ball game. In order to have your retriever become a good marker at long distances they need to be taught how to look for a bird long. The retriever must learn to focus on obscure objects in the air thrown far from the starting line of the mat. Retriever’s also need have the confidence or desire to travel great distances and remain on the correct path to the mark/bird in spite of the factors they may encounter along the way. Not an easy task to accomplish for a young retriever.
Some retrievers lack the vision, work ethic or desire to retrieve at great distances. This does not mean they are not good retrievers. It simply means marking at great distances is not the game they will be successful at or truly enjoy playing. Although, there are many other disciplines the retriever may excel at. For instance; dock jumping, agility, guiding/hunting, hunt tests, detection, or search and rescue are some alternative ways your retriever and you can have fun.
To teach a retriever to mark at great distances we at Bay Blue Kennels use a lot of “White”. White; chairs, gloves, jackets, streamers, 3 inch bumpers and of course the very helpful large white boat bumper. Go to any store that carries boating supplies. Find the section where the dock supplies are displayed, there you should find a variety of sizes, colors, and weights of boaters’ dock bumpers. These bumpers are designed to be tied to a dock in order to protect the edges or sides of a boat when it is roped off to a dock. Retriever trainers have the uncanny ability to find many alternate uses for everyday items as it pertains to the training of retrievers. Somewhere along the journey of retriever training someone had decided it was a good idea to throw a large white boat bumper on a long mark.
The large white object provides a number of benefits. The first, is visibility of the throw. At a great distance now the throw becomes clearer and engaging. The bumper is easily spotted in the bird thrower’s hand. The young retrievers can get a bit “jacked-up” because they can clearly see a mark is about to be thrown for them and the distance becomes insignificant in their mind. The visual aide can also cue the young retriever in on what is about to happen encouraging the young retriever to look for gun stations at greater distances.
Another benefit is the size of the boat bumper. Once on the ground the bumper sits up high allowing for the large object to be identified quickly. The way the boat bumper lies on the ground puts it in the perfect plane of sight for the young retriever. Very often the young retriever will be able to see the boat bumper while they travel toward the mark. The ability to see the object almost 100% of the time on the way to it will instill the confidence the young retriever will need to fight the factors they may encounter in their path.
An additional benefit to the size of the bumper is helping a young retriever learn to pick up and carry large objects such as a Canada Goose. Many who Goose hunt know how difficult it is for a young retriever to learn how to maneuver with and carry these large awkward birds. Canada Geese can be very intimidating to a young retriever. The more practice your retriever can have with an object of a similar size will help them ease into the transition of retrieving the real bird.
Throwing a boat bumper for a long mark begins by having your bird thrower place or throw a bird or smaller bumper in a specified area. The time to put a bird down is when you are getting a retriever ready to mark or you are standing in the holding blind before you and the retriever approach the starting line. Once on the line make sure your thrower has the boat bumper in hand and is ready to throw. Focus the retriever’s attention on the gun station and let the fun begin. Instruct your bird thrower to “shoot” his noise maker (gun or blaster) and throw the boat bumper near the place his/her bird or small bumper is. Be aware if the boat bumper lands directly on top of the smaller object to retrieve. This may cause the retriever to “blink” the smaller object because they do not know how to push or sort through the pile (an act that may have been discouraged in pile work also referred to as “shopping”). Or the young retriever may bring back the boat bumper feeling confident with holding an object of this size. As the above picture demonstrates; True a 9 month old Labrador Retriever has no problems bringing back and delivery the boat bumper. In order to keep things running smoothly and efficiently we stock our long gun stations with several large boat bumpers while providing smaller objects for the retrievers to retrieve. Most retrievers will choose to bring the bird or smaller bumper back, but as you can see some retrievers like True prefer to retrieve the object they know to have been thrown such as the big boat bumper.
Tera’s Training Tip Of The Day: Make It A Wet One.
Teaching a dog to re-enter into the water and get out on land to hunt for a bird is easy. Retriever’s begin their careers marking on land. Depending on where you live weather can limit a retrievers exposure to water marking. Therefore, many retrievers experience more marking set-ups on land than water. It is also a strenuous endeavor, taking tremendous amounts of energy to perform watermarks. Water marks also take up more time to complete and we are often limited to the day-light hours.
Retrievers have a natural tendency to seek land and follow the contours of the shoreline. On land the birds are easier to scent and retrievers can hunt a vast area quickly, in turn experiencing more success finding the bird/mark sooner. It is for this reason a retriever will be drawn to hunt a watermark out on land first rather than staying in the water to hunt for the bird. Hunting the water’s surface is a challenge. The retriever’s perspective and plane of sight is drastically minimized in the water. Scenting conditions are also compromised and different. Most of the time the wind can help marking on land, but can become non-existent or a hindrance on the water especially if it pushes the bird out of the area. The oils and blood from the bird can flow away from the bird causing the scent to dissipate as the bird sits in the water.
Practice makes perfect! And it takes a lot of it to be efficient. Teach your retriever to productively hunt in the water. A retriever must feel comfortable maneuvering or swimming in the water while hunting. Retrievers should experience and come to know what the different intensities of scent on the water are. A well placed mark or fresh flyer landing in the pond nestled in a clump of wet cover will challenge even the best of marking retrievers. At Bay Blue Kennels, whenever possible we try to always keep our birds wet. When performing watermarks with the young retrievers, 9 out of 10 times we will place the birds landing in the water or in cover in the water. This allows for the young retrievers to experience success of finding birds in the water rather than on land. The young retrievers will soon learn to hunt the water primary and the land secondary. This will increase your retrievers success on watermarks. Bay Blue’s philosophy is such that we feel we have many more opportunities to teach young retrievers the skill set for land marking due to the reasons mentioned above. Therefore, we choose to keep our young retrievers hunting in the water as much as possible.