>>>>By request from a lurker on another
forum, I send this which I put there. Some of
you will see your own
influences on my thinking. I thank each of you for same.
subject: Training dogs to point, or not?>>>
There is an interesting amount of variables to
consider when discussing this subject. It is adventurous to try to split the
problem into 2 main questions and I am probably doing wrong in trying to do so.
Long ago, in 1993 I believe it was, we attended the
first birddog class at the Swedish Dog Training Centre. It was from Monday to
Friday, long but interesting days. Now, afterwards when we are instructors and
perhaps understand some things better it is very educational to think back and
see what kind of pre-requisite those instructors had. They had 5 days and 14
more or less wild dogs of 7 different breeds and 14 more or less stupid
handlers and in that limited time with that huge variation in mentality among
both dogs and handlers they had to show so much progress so that we pupils would
recommend the class for our friends when we came back home from it!
It is easy to understand that there was no room or
time to coax very much with each individual dog and handler but the same
comb was used to polish all of them.
Of course, after that class me and Maud had a bit
single minded view of birddog training. After some years and experience the view
started to widen and finally it became so complex so today I personally am
tempted to say that I know nothing about birddogs or any other dogs - at least
not until I know the dog and its handler better.
The two main questions are: Who are you and where
are you hunting?
Take two extreme practical examples:
Are you an immensely rich man, living 120 years
ago, who has dedicated his entire life for dogging the moors of Scotland
for grouse? The environment you are hunting in decides the type of dogs you are
using and how they are trained. In those days the Scottish moors were covered
with game and there was no need for far ranging, hard going dogs with a lot of
stamina, a lot of prey drive, lot of self-willed and independent action. You did
not have one dog only but maybe 6, handled by servants, that could share
the work of the day. You wanted style and discipline from the dogs, independent
work was not needed due to the game density. The game density also allowed you
to train the dogs to perfection on wild bird. On the other hand the moors are
often soft and heavy to walk and run on so you needed a lot of dogs to share the
strain. Whatever, no matter how many dogs you run during the day, all of them
most likely got immediate reward for their work.
It may not be entirely wrong to say that one
particular type of dog was best suited for hunting in this very special
environment, and this type of dog was the one you seek and bred.
Or are you the ordinary working man in today's
Sweden who can afford to have one or two dogs only, train them by yourself in
your free time and run them on hard bare mountain terrain for a week in a row on
ground where it might take 3 days to find the first bird or covey. Should your
dog collapse due to mental or physical fatigue after the second day, then you
have no changes to taste the wonderful meat of a grouse. What you need is a
stubborn dog, ranging wide to cover as much ground as possible, with mental and
physical stamina to do it every day of the week. Days might pass before the dog
gets a reward, still this lack of reward must not slow the dog down the least,
it has to maintain a positive attitude all the time.
At least to me it seems quite obvious that these
two types of dogs must be totally different to train. These two examples are
fictive and within both of them, in real life, there is a huge variation
of conditions that will influence both the handler and his ability/pre-requisite
and how the ideal dog is bred and trained.
It is sometimes immediately easy to see that the
dog itself is a problem from birth but most often you have to poke in the
background of dog and handler to find the root to possible
If a group of hunters hunt in a specific
environment for any length of time they will consciously or unconsciously breed
dogs that are more and more suited for this environment, and not to the
environment but also to the culture they live in. Even in the same environment
the general relation to a dog or any animal, domestic or wild, will vary a lot
depending of the culture that thrives in this particular society, and that will
influence how their working dogs are bred.
What do I want to say with this input? I do not
really know. I guess the internet and the vicinity to two other countries,
Norway and Finland, has given me too much to think about, more than I can
Borta Med Vindens Kennel
"Ask not what your dog
can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your dog."