A couple of weeks ago I, Seeker, Seeker, Lena & Tassla were helping out on a protective hunt for pigeons. It was both useful work and a great opportunity for me to see where Seeker and I were at in training. Seeker finds it difficult to hold himself togehter when watching other dogs work and he gets too excited. But now there would only be two dogs and the earlier protective hunts we’ve been to there hasn’t been that much game shot so it’s been quite calm – a perfect opportunity to practice remaining calm and focused in other words.
Protective hunting for pigeons is allowed from March to August here in the southern parts if Sweden, if they’re causing harm to commercial farming, and then they of course need dogs to retrieve the game. The guns were placed in mottes around a biiiig field, waiting for the pigeons to come flying over them to feed from the field. Lena and I were standing by a gun each in order to see as much as possible.
Lena and Tassla were working in the blue circle. It was very hard both for us and the dogs to mark the fallen birds in the grainfield since there were no points of reference, but practice makes perfect 😉
It was also quite warm (there’s been a heatwave in Sweden this summer – instead of 10 degrees Celsius and rain, which is the normal Swedish summer, we’ve had 30 degrees Celsius for more than six weeks) so we made sure the dogs had plenty of water and we or the guns picked the pigeons that ended up near by ourselves in order to save the dogs. We of course tried to avoid walking in the grainfield and used existing paths or tractor trails, but sometimes we needed to walk in it and then cast the dogs the to the hunt area.
As I had hoped we got plenty of time to just wait and Seeker relaxed nicely. He could even be relatively calm and focused watching Tassla work. We also got some heelwork training walking around almost the whole field when we were to sweep up on the other side of the filed.
The first bird Seeker was to retrieve showed that he’s not very experienced yet. Then he retrieved one of the plastic pidgeon dummies on the ground put out to entice the real pidgeons to land next to it, before he retrieved the pidgeon I’d expected him to fetch (that pidgeon was dead so it wasn’t suffering from his lack of experience). Or, well, being Seeker 😉 he actually didn’t retrieve just on dummy but he of course had room in his mouth for two at the same time 😉 Then he got the hang of it and realised that retrieving real pidgeons was much more fun – but slighlty difficult! They do loose a lot of feathers, so the dogs have to get used to that.
All in all I was satisfied with his work, he kept it together, he didn’t think of running away with the birds – just running straight back to me. He responded to all cues and the heelwork as fine (that is he walked by my side and I felt that we actually had a connection, not that I was walking alone). To start with he thought it was quite difficult with all the feathers that came loose from the pidgeons, but then he got the hang of it and carried them with a nice and firm grip.
It feels really good that our training has resulted in us being useful. Both the dogs worked really well (Tassla had to sit on a small hill to see over the grainfield 😉 ) and everyone was happy and pleased when the missions was completed.