Last night, Arizona returned to field training. She’s been off for three weeks, first because of the hot weather and then because she finally had her first heat.
We have continued to practice retrieves over the past few weeks, but you never know what is going to happen at the group training.
Susie was away at the cottage, so Laura worked with us while Dean and Maverick worked alone in another area.
We first attempted to do some simple land retrieves. Laura went out into the field while I got Arizona to sit beside me and ‘mark’ (or look out to see what’s happening), then Laura made a duck call and tossed the bumper with the wing attached. I then let go of Ari’s collar and said ‘fetch’.
Arizona ran straight over to Laura, then to the bumper. She then brought the bumper to Laura instead of bringing it back to me. After getting her excited about the bumper again, Laura got her to pick it up again and I called her back. She came. This same sort of cycle happened a few more times, with Arizona going to a shaded tree behind me to wait for me to coax her out again, so we knew it was time to try something new.
Even though it was 6:00pm it was still quite warm.
As part of the Working Certificate (WC) test, the dogs have to do two land retrieves and two water retrieves.
We’ve been working on the land retrieves for months, not wanting to introduce the water retrieve until Arizona was working perfectly on land.
With the hot weather we decided to try some water work.
I walked to the edge of the pond while Laura walked part way around it. I had Ari sit and ‘mark’. Laura did the duck call and then tossed the bumper into the water. As I released Arizona’s collar, I said ‘fetch’.
She ran into the water and swam directly to Laura, ignoring the bumper. So Laura tossed another bumper into the water, hoping that would entice Ari to go for it – not happening!
I had Rogue with me, not a usual occurrence, because we had been at a meeting and Huib picked us up with just enough time to get to training.
Rogue had been watching Ari “have fun” and she wanted to “have fun” too. She was excited while watching her do the land retrieves, but the water work had her whining loudly. Rogue does not like the water, so to us this was pretty strange. But, since Ari wasn’t retrieving the bumpers and they needed to be brought back in, we decided to see if maybe Rogue could create a bit of competition.
With Ari’s refusal to retrieve we have been told to try a force retrieve (pinching her ear), and with her sometimes slow recall we’ve told to try a shock collar. Both of these methods are not ones we’re willing to consider though, there are so many other options out there.
Like a little bit of friendly doggie competition.
I let Rogue off the leash and she bolted directly for the water. She ran in and as soon as she realized she could no longer touch the bottom she started to panic. This didn’t stop her though, she wanted to get to that bumper, so after a few false starts, she finally stopped panicking and swam out to the bumpers. She brought the first one in and dropped it at Huib’s feet. Then she turned and went back into the water for the other.
While she was doing this Arizona swam along side, only trying to get the second one off her.
We then spent 20 minutes tossing the bumpers into the pond and having Rogue and Arizona compete for them, returning them to Huib for treats.
Once Ari seemed to be getting the hang of it, I held Rogue and Huib worked with Ari, tossing the bumper a short distance from where he had her sit. She ran into the water without an issue, but it took a few attempts before she finally started swimming out and bringing the bumper back to Huib. A few times she gave up, so I would let Rogue go out a few times, before holding her again.
We worked on water retrieves for probably 30-45 minutes total and by the end I think both girls had a pretty good grasp of the concept.
We then decided to try some land retrieves again. Arizona did two almost perfect retrieves, just taking it back to Laura at first, but then turning to bring it back to me in the end.
Laura thinks that because we’ve been working so much with her bringing the bumper back to the person who threw it, that when she’s at field training and the “Gunner” throws it, Arizona thinks she needs to return the bumper to whoever tossed it.
While this was happening Rogue stood with me watching intently.
Once Ari was finished, I decided to do a couple practices with Rogue and she was freaking perfect!
Rogue has never done field work training, she’s only watched us work with Arizona. Just like in conformation, where she learned by watching Canyon, Rogue has learned field by watching Arizona.
I think I might start bringing Rogue with me to group field classes, maybe she can get her WC. I think we are also going to start bringing Ari to rogue’s tracking lessons so we can do some field work afterwards.
The ability to do whatever activities with my dog is one of the highlights of deciding to owner-train, rather than go to a program for a guide dog.
I think Laura had just as much fun as we did watching Rogue figure things out, and teach Ari about water retrieves.