So, I have introduced myself, with a number of misspelled words via Iphone. I am at the desk now, and I wanted to share with yall what the future holds.
I have given my resume, so to say in my intro. I have trained upland bird dogs, only 1 successful duck dog who is my old retired with mom and dad chocolate. I do a lot of behavior and obedience training on the side, as my main job is a K9 Patrol handler and trainer. Given I have many different disciplines I work in, Im going to try and tackle Rebel a little differently and see how it works.
Rebel was born oct 18. I got him at exactly 8 weeks old. Parents are trial stock. Now....heres the primary and most important purpose rebel will serve. PTSD service dog. The soldier getting him will be medically discharged within the next 6 months to a year....(both ankles fused, necrotic right ankle, 3 c fractures, 3 L fractures, open book pelvis fracture and TBI) Hes walking and hunting again. He is a Major in the special forces, and growing up together, he thought it would be awesome If I could train his service dog. Rebel will be tasked with waking him up during night mares and providing support confidence in uncomfortable situations. This man asked if I could put Duck hunting in the dog, I said absolutely, but lets make sure hes a solid PTSD firstly.
I had a few weeks from down payment to pickup, and rattle around training plans in my head. I know a drivey dog will train easier than a lazy dog so long as I can keep em clear headed. This is coming from a handler of 2 gsd patrol dogs, 2 wide open mallys, and my personaly KNVP dutch female.
I allow the dog to let me know when they are ready for the next step so to say, training is full of leaps and bounds, but to me, its the little foot steps between the leaps and the bounds that really count. Im typing all this as the lil rebel himself is lying next to me passed out.
I started him quick. After he showed he was comfortable in the new home, I used his food to start working with him. Im a huge believer that not all training needs to be formal. He has instincts, natural instincts, and prior to formal training I like to tap into them. He has a nose, lets use it. I place an amount of food during feeding time in a bowl behind a closed door, then I close all the doors in my hallway. I place a couple kibbles right under the door where he could get to it when he works for it, but not so obvious he runs to it using only his eyes. I give no commands. I place the dog in the hallway and let his nose take over. When he gets in odor he will begin looking for the source. When he finds the kibble he starts pawing till he can get the couple pieces under the correct door, and then i pop the door and let him eat. There is very little human interaction. I want my dog to work and not rely on me. The new handler will need this. I change up the lighting after he shows he knows the game. The lower the light, the more he uses his nose. Eventually I go almost no light. Now, this isnt so much for hunting as it will be for being a service dog, he cannot be afraid to approach dark situations. What I show him with his is that darkness needs not to be connected with negative.
A second feeding during the day is in the yard, using scent circles in the grass. This keeps him using his nose and working on that hunt drive.
I do this for a few days solid, then break it off to a couple times a week aside from regular bowl feedings in the kitchen.
I also make a lot of noise, bang pots and pans, I take a broom stick and bang it on the floor, living on a crawl space this makes the floor vibrate. Rebel has got to have solid nerves, both for the gun and being taken into every situation his handler might walk into. subway stations, train tracks, busy roads, you name it.
I have taken him to the gun range, its an indoor gun range, so we stay in the range safety office, which is separated by the firing line with a cinder brick wall and ballistic plexi. its loud, but nothing crazy. Rebel showed absolutely zero issues, 100% neutral.
He plays with my dutchy, she does really well with him. He doesnt back down when they play.
I like to teach dogs "place". Its a solid base for shaping a future desire. I have a series a boxes at different heights I use. Boxed are a little larger then 1'x1' square. The one I Started 2 days ago is only about 6" tall. I have teased Rebel onto the box with a treat while saying "place". HE gets on the box and pull the treat up to trigger a sit, then I pay with the treat. It took a few 5 minute sessions over 2 days to get where we are at now. I took him out to break last night and he went over to the box and crawled up and sat looking at me, waiting for a treat. I have also seen that this helps teaching stay as well.
This morning I started some bowl feedings with the scent of duck. I had a few fresh kills the other day and left a towel in with a couple wings I clipped and put in a zip lock bag. I laid the towel down under his bow, like i always do. The difference is, this towel has the scent of duck. I do this so he can begin to smell the duck and imprint the smell. ITs not in your face overwhelming, its just an introduction to the smell.
The pup has solid nerves and my goal is to get his obedience coming along nicely. A driven dog will train up easier, especially when they love the reward. I plan to use some of the duck hunting/retrieve training to reward the obedience. In a lot of things they will work hand in hand.
There are many ways to skin a cat, train a dog, etc. Im always ready to learn and i stay open minded.