This is a text addressed to myself. But I think you might recognize yourself too 😉
This text is about breathing when casting. Sounds easy? I find it terribly difficult sometimes.
Maybe it’s the control freak in me that loses control – I don’t know. But when my dog is like 50 yards away from me – or more – and I’m to direct her to the newly shot bird or to the dummy that’s been placed out, I stop breathing. And I somehow believe that everything has to happen really fast…
And naturally, you shouldn’t stand around when there’s freshly shot game, but I do believe that 99 times out of a 100, you do have three seconds. In those three seconds you have the time to take a really deep breath and your dog gets the chance to focus on what you’re about to ask of it. It certainly increases the odds of the dog being correct. Which in turn will get the game in faster than if you have to redirect. The hurrier you go, the behinder you get, as Bob Bailey would say.
I started to ask my training buddies to tell me to breathe every time I stop my dog out at a distance. Count to three. Provide new information. And suddenly the dog’s chances of succeeding increased a lot. The both of us are calm and focused – and the task gets solved.
In addition, I have also begun trying not to be quite as quick to blow my stop whistle.
I got a perfect example of this on film the other day. Tassla’s job was to get a water mark that is thrown in right by the water’s edge. Her aim is a bit off and she gets back on land just to the right of the bird. While she is climbing up the rocks (and it’s difficult to get up there), I blow the stop whistle. A little hysterical. I could have waited, given her the chance to properly get back on land before the stop whistle. I could even quite probably could have waited and let her find the duck on her own from there. Just kept my cool and observed how she planned to solve it. But instead, I blow a bit of stressed out stop whistle – though she actually CAN’T stop right there, because she is about to slip off those rocks – and then I indulge myself and tell her “LEFT” too. Somewhat desperate.
But then I pull myself together, even if I definitely could have played it even cooler, and let her get back on land. I blow my stop whistle, direct her to go left, and well, you can see for yourself in the video what it looks like.
This is truly an area with room for improvement in my training. And it is very rewarding when I do what I’ supposed to be doing – because then my dogs do what I want. 🙂 I have to be much cooler and not let my feelings get the better of me and stress me out. This has been very obvious not least when training Quling. Recently, I’ve been able to let him stand for longer in the stops, and his directional work after that has been amazing.
Then add the huge distraction of a judge who (and in English no less;) gives me various orders about what I should be doing… That truly is distraction training for me. 🙂 This autumn, one of my goals when hunting and at trials will be for ME to get better at functioning in the face of distractions. And I’ll breathe and count to three, no matter what is happening.