After the rabbit tracking, we headed over to a private field. It had a pond so we continued with some water work, free of drama this time.
Don't even think about stealing this dog's retrieve.
Someone snapped this pic of Scout on my camera.
Then we moved on to field work. I don't remember too much at this point to be honest. I think we broke into three groups. One led by Zsofi with a tethered bird. One led by Tanya, a trainer from the Yukon (whose HWV Szinva will hopefully be the first of the breed to become a Versatile Champion at the upcoming NAVDHA Invitational!) with a bird in a tip-up cage. And the last with Laci, Zsofi's partner, doing some retrieving with rabbits, birds, and dummies. Actually some of that might have happened the following day, but stick with me on this.
Szinva, waiting patiently for his mom to return
Heinz creeping up on a caged quail.
Jazz, a young dog they were working on building power over the bird with.
After a couple chances to catch the live bird, he was hooked.
Those of you familiar with the West method already know about stroking the tail or the dog's back while on point to calm them and quietly praise their holding. Zsofi does that, too and I think it's cool to see some crossover. A couple things she/Europeans do differently are actually encouraging the dog to creep up on the bird. I could be wrong from my limited experience, but it seems in the States that a dog is expected to remain staunchly on point until sent to retrieve, unless asked to relocate a running bird. In Europe the handler and the dog creep up on the bird together after the dog establishes point. I can't really explain beyond that because I don't have a good grasp on it, but maybe someone else can shed light on that. The other interesting and different thing they do is, during training, once the dog has pointed the bird, and you've steadied him, but won't be shooting the bird, you have a helper flush the bird while you keep the dog steady. Then you pick up the dog and walk away. She says you never want to call a dog off a bird, so you physically remove them while praising them.
Zsofi insisted on taking this picture of Scout and I doing just that. :
The other major difference in training methods between North America and Europe is of course the controversial e-collar. I've seen threads with folks in the UK reviling the e-collar like it's some of sort of torture device. I've never used one because I'm cheap. Whistles are the primary tool for distance work and training for whistle commands is basically the same as training for e-collar in that you first teach the dog the command on lead and then overlay the new tool. She uses a double sided whistle. One side is a regular whistle and the other has pea for a trill sound. The normal side is used for lots of commands by varying the number or whistles or the length. The trill is only used for an emergency type stop/whoa command. She says Germans train their dogs to lie down on the trill, but because Vizslas are less hardheaded a sit is fine for them.
To train this quick sit, you put the dog on leash, walk around casually, and then suddenly blow the whistle, while pulling up on the leash and pushing down on their butt. Eventually the dog sits faster than you can push them into a sit. She demonstrated this with one of the dogs there and within 5 repetitions the dog had it.
The final day we did blood tracking for the first time. Setup is similar to the rabbit tracking, except this time you can use flags or something else to mark the track the whole way, as well as using treats in addition to the blood when first training for this. At the end of the blood track you don't expect a retrieve because this skill would likely be used for deer. They also had some deer scent which they applied to the bottom of their shoes, so while they set the trail they were also leaving additional scent. They use cow or deer blood which they get from a butcher or processing plant. I think pig would work fine here, but over there parasites are a concern. Put the blood in a condiment type bottle. You then walk along and shake blood out here and there. Closer together at first, and as you get more advanced farther apart. Plant flags and treats along the way and at the end leave a bowl filled with lots of food as a reward. We used grilled chicken. The other difference between this and tracking dead game is that the dog remains on lead with the handler accompanying them. Otherwise you start them out similarly with a sit and then attracting them with your fingers to the start.
Scout picked this up wonderfully and it's definitely something I'd like to continue with her.
We ended the day with more field work, rabbit tracks, and retrieving work.
All in all it was a fantastic experience. A weekend I'll mostly remember, haha, for the rest of my life.
There are tons more pics if you flip through at my flickr page. Just click any of the ones posted and it'll take you there. Also this album of pics taken by Laci and Zsofi. https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/LP5781
That's all for now unless I remember more training tips. ;D