Tuesday, January 19, 2010

approaching your dog

Today I was hunting chukars. I was on a hunt but it was more like a chase for a while. During the process I was reminded of the keen senses of animals. Yesterday Riley was solid on point time after time but today was different. It wasn't Rileys fault. It was caused by me. The first point this morning was above the ridges on a big flat where the snow had laid the cheat grass flat. The birds were visible and on the move. I rushed up to Riley on point. The birds were running and I shot as they flushed. 300 yards later the same scenario. The third time Riley wasn't pointing but doing the fast stalk on the moving birds. He started chasing the birds as they ran until they all flushed.

Sounds like a bad day for the dog but it was caused by me at the onset when I rushed the first covey. Riley could sense my excitement and as I rushed past him he felt the need to do the same. Twice was all it took. From then on it was let's rush them and get them into the air. As we all know, our dogs can sense our feelings. They can tell by our demeanor when we're angry or happy. Just the same they can tell when we're excited.

In other words, we need to contain our excitement the same way we expect our dog to contain his by holding point. If we approach the dog in a calm manner it will help him stay calm through the point. If we rush up to him in a fast excited motion his reaction will be the same. He'll break point. I can get my dogs to whoa just by the way I hold my shotgun. If I assume the pose they will stop and watch me. I now know that I can make them run faster. I just have to get excited and run and they will to.

Hopefully I rectified the situation before our next outing. After the third time I realized what I had done and that the rest of the morning would only get worse if I didn't get away from these birds. I dropped off the flats onto the side hills. There weren't many birds, but working into the wind we found a few that were holding in the standing cover. Riley had three great points and we called it a day.

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