One thing that I have learned over the course of my time of being around bird dogs is that the whole thing is built on a solid foundation of obedience.

 What do I mean? Many of the commands that we use in a day of hunting or trialing are taught and if the dog is obedient and knows the command he will execute this command.

  Also when the dog goes on point there are two portions to that point. First is when the dog makes game and hits the point that we all love to see. The second part is once the dog becomes aware of you then that is where the obedience comes in, he is aware that you are moving and that he is part of the team and needs to stay in place so that you can flush the bird and he gets his reward of feathers in his mouth.

  Foundational obedience plays into the trained retrieve also. The more obedient that the dog is the faster he picks up on the lessons and you move through the process smoothly and without struggle.

  I want to be completely transparent here. I have been guilty in the past of just working on a recall command and the whoa command and that was about all in the way of obedience and it made for some frustrating hunts and time in the field.

 This time out though that has changed. The decision was made to focus on building a solid foundation with obedience. 

Max demonstrating that a distraction is no reason to move.

  Knowing that obedience training is something that sometimes gets overlooked and distracted from, I decided to formalize the training.

 We enrolled in a Canine Good Citizen class. What is that you say. It is a test of ten tasks that the dog has to accomplish in order to pass. These are tasks that make the dog more enjoyable as a companion that range from your basic sit, down and stay to walking through a crowd sitting politely for petting. One of the tests requires the dog to sit still while he is examined. This would help out a NAVHDA judge when he is trying to examine a bite and coat during the NA test.

  Also let’s face it our dogs spend a lot of time just being our companions and not tearing up the woods and fields.  

  Enrolling in this class forced me to focus on the training and the tasks at hand. Putting in the effort to ensure that we don’t fail and staying focused on the end result of having a dog that is obedient and has learned how to learn new things. 

Max demonstrating his down stay in a big box store.

 Another bonus is that all the work on this program strengthens the bond between handler and dog. Most likely from the dog learning what is expected and what his boundaries are. 

  Normally the class is six weeks and the test is scheduled with your instructor or another AKC certified evaluator. I say normally because you can run up against anything , such as a holiday, that would cause the training to be rescheduled for that day and then your time is extended.

 We went through the training and passed the test recently. It is a title that the AKC does recognize and is looked at as the first leg towards getting a service dog trained. Also another caveat is that some places this title on your dog may help lower your home insurance. I think that it is mostly for the bully type dogs and not really our bird dogs, a bonus either way though.

 So where does this obedience training leave Max. He is handling better in the field and he still creeps but a whoa and he stops so I am not having to repeat it multiple times. The next step is the trained retrieve and hopefully all the work pays off. 

 After going through this and listening to guys more experienced than me I am really a firm believer in the concept that it really does all stem from obedience. 

2 Replies to “Obedience”

  1. After our many conversations about obedience taking over instinct in the field, it is now a focus I have when starting a pup. It has definitely made a difference so far. The true test will come for us when it’s a graded/judged field event and the energy is high.

    1. I truly believe that obedience takes over instinct at certain points in the field, such as the point and then remaining in place until released for the retrieve after the fall of the bird. I also think that when a dog that is obedient is taught these advanced skills they take the lessons better and it sticks with them. Obedience helps teach them how to learn. This being said an obedient dog is able to control the excitement in situations like field trials and hunt tests as a result of the bonding that has been developed between the handler and dog as a result of going through it all together.
      Good luck this year and we will see you in the field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *