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I found a nice video of preparatory competitive training from two years ago when Seeker was just 20 weeks old and thought I’d share it with you. We went to the beautiful Sjöön for a mock cold game trial. 4 dogs in open, 7 in beginners and this year we also had 2 dogs in puppy class.

The participants in the puppy class were of course Seeker and Tod. I jotted down my thoughts after Seeker’s first mock trial.

Seeker is so much fun to train – he loves to play and he finds everything great fun. But he’s just a baby, and his attention span is quite short. That’s why we’ve been working in short sessions with important foundation skills. The mock field trial was the first time we tried putting things together, and also the first time we had someone else throwing an object for us. The benefit of a mock trial is that it can be completely tailored after what the dog has mastered and what he needs to work on, and that you can reward your dog as much as you please. At the mock trials we mostly focus on stamina, the big picture and the dog’s attitude. The details that don’t work out well are brought into the future training where we’ll work on them, before chaining again. It’s never too early to begin chaining – use the parts that you have mastered!

I chose behaviours from Seeker’s repertoire – walk at heel short stretches, sit, the switching game and the recall – and created a chain that looked like this:

  • Heeling up to the ”judge”
  • Sit by my side, I greet the ”judge”
  • Heeling
  • The switching game with a toy on the ground (if it worked out well, the ”judge” would throw me one of the toys)
  • Sit while I lightly hold on to the collar (the steadiness isn’t quite there yet) and the ”judge” throws the toy
  • Retrieve the toy and play the switching game
  • Sit, the ”judge” holds him and I walk away, ending the chain with a recall

You can see what it looked like in the video below.

I’m very pleased with his focus, even if he found it difficult. He’s never heeled with someone in front of us before, and that was tricky. However, he quickly returned to my side when I stopped and turned. He did sit nicely by my side (which surprised me since he loves people coming up to him, that’s why I kind of ignored the judge and was pretty rude in my greeting…). The switching game looked like it usually does (I would like a bit more pull towards me and my hand), and that was great in the new environment with all the distractions. The marking work was really good, and he quickly caught on to that it was just a variation of the switching game. Very happy about that!

He was very cute and just had to go check if there was anything left in the same spot, but he then returned to play with me.

And we finished off with a great recall. Good boy, Seeker!

So we’ll return to working on different foundation skills and then try putting them together again. Perhaps we’ll make it a bit more challenging next time, but this was just perfect for our little ”puppy mock field trial”.


Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training
Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training

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