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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
You may think sit meas sit, but my guess is that it really doesn?t to your dog.

I can discuss this subject because in many respects, I am an expert. By expert, I mean that my dogs are known offenders (one having broken in two different trials in the fourth series where we were on the leader board) and that I am, in no small measure, to blame.

First, some background. My dogs are professionally trained by Cherylon Loveland. She does not run trials, I do. In the off-season, I train every weekend. In season, I train Thursday, then jump in my dog truck.

Second, it doesn?t matter what you do, the dogs know a field trial (or hunt test). I don?t care what you do, you cannot replicate battle conditions, only approximate. At a FT, there is no collar. There are lots more people, dogs, and truck. The dogs sit around longer. There are more guns at the flyer station. They get a shot duck or pheasant - not a pigeon. So, if you have a high powered dog, he is going to be jacked up. That is a given.

Third, if you have a young, jacked up dog, your obedience problems can be exacerbated. One partial solution is to wear the dogs out. When my dogs were 3 and I was running in the AA stakes, I would run blinds in the morning before the set up dog ran, run blinds after the setup dog ran, run blinds after the marks, run blinds after the blinds, etc., etc. etc. I found that when I was able to do this (not always possible because of grounds near FT, running numbers, etc.) I found that I MIGHT have a chance of keeping the dogs RELATIVELY mellow. You may think I am exagerating. Let me assure you, I am not.

When I ran the dogs' legs off on blinds, they would still race out after the birds, but be more considered about it. If I didn?t run the blinds, I was doomed. The dogs were just too pumped to be a FT. If they had to sit in the truck and wait, they would be running all over God?s country in the first series. Things got somewhat better last year at age 4, but they still needed the blinds to blow some of the steam out of them.

Last Spring, my two 4 year old littermates each had a win and each needed two points to qualify for the National. So, I pushed hard ... I ran too many trials in a row ... and got nothing. What?s worse, the dogs line manners got worse. One moral - be careful not to run too many trials in a row!

So, Cherylon and I dissected what was going wrong. There were some things that we could not address or did not want to address. Neither Cherylon nor I wanted to take the drive out of the dogs. It is too big a part of what we enjoy about the game. We thought (and this year may tell us so) that age would probably take care of some of the problem.

Then we started to work on me. And we discovered sit did not mean sit to the dogs when I was running them. They knew that the standard was different for me than for Cherylon.

Ok, so what do I mean when I say sit means sit.

It means in training (and of course at a FT) to the dog that:

You don?t get out of the dog box until I say so.
You don?t move after you get out of the dog box until I say so.
When I am walking to the holding blind (and I use a very short lead - a 6" climbing rope with no loop attached to a choke chain, which makes it easy for me to identify surging by the dog - and which can remain on the dog for land marks), you must sit when I stop.

It means that when I call for the birds, ANY movement calls for correction (either 6" lead or stick).

It means when you return with the bird, reposition, and sit, ANY movement without my direction calls for correction.

It means that after you gives me the bird, ANY movement without my direction calls for correction.

The standard is ANY (and I do mean ANY) movement.

When a handler can say that he or she truly honors that standard (in training - there are always some allowances that need to be made at a FT), then Sit means Sit.


My guess is that if you videotape yourself, you will find that sit really does not mean to the dog what you think it means.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One thing that I think I need to reinforce - as Gman and Shayne both alluded to - your approach depends upon the dogs.

My two boyz needed lots of blinds and lots of obediance because they are as Steve Martin would say - "Wild and Crazy Guys."

At the same time when I was running the boyz, I had a 3 year old bitch, with whom I did not run blinds, and did not get on about obediance. She was lower maintenance and was better off left alone at the FT.

So decide what to do depending on your dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Joe

In many respects, "sit" is simply a synonym for "control." When you enforce sit, you are enforcing control.

Another means of enforcing control is to make sure not only that the dog does not move its feet without your permission, but also that the dog does not move its head without your permission.

For example, suppose you are running a triple. The first bird is thrown. Before it hits the ground, the dog swings its head. You could say "sit" and stick the dog. You could simply send the dog for the first bird (and correct if he does not run straight and true to the bird, then start the sequence over). You could wait until the dog's head returns to the first bird. You could do any of those things before calling for the second bird. Or you could simply call for the second bird. If you simply call for the second bird, you are teaching the dog that he can control the tempo of the birds. If you do one of the others, you are telling the dog that he needs to be more attentive to you and that he cannot swing off until you allow him to.

Ted
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Blast

First, the collar is only one tool. Other tools are lead, stick, and voice. Just because you use a collar, doesn't mean you abandon others.

Second, my view is that dogs violate sit in many ways, not just the way you decribe. Some dogs dance, tapping their front paws and raising their butt. Others lower head, crouch and raise butt.

Third, my standard is butt planted on ground, front paws planted too. I will make exception if test is wide open and I must make the dog travel through a long arc - for example one bird is at 9 o clock and another at 3 o clock. But in such instance, I will either be moving into the dog or moving away from the dog - cueing him, telling him I want him to move with me.

Fourth, the correction depends on nature of infraction (is it just a twitch, is the first time I have seen the behavior, what happened yesterday). When I come to the line, assume dog on left (I have two sided dogs), short rope lead in left hand, stick and collar in right. I will jerk on lead if forward movement of paws or crouch with butt lifted (typically on marks as they fall). In contrast, if after returning with a bird, the dog moves forward after giving me the bird, I will stick him across the chest because I find stick on butt tends to drive a moving dog forward. I may also nick for latter.

Big moment (or repeated little ones) may merit stick and collar.

Remember don't nag if you want this to mean anything. You come to the line, dog gets positioned, you say sit. Don't say sit (sit, sit, sit, sit, sit)along the way. If dog violates standard, then you say sit with appropriate correction.

Ted
 
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