On a misty Saturday morning – 11 flatcoated retrievers & one golden retriever met in the beautiful Putten for a working test workshop hosted by Yvonne van Houten from Tricksywood’s kennel and myself. Our two kennels have produced working gundogs and we were brought together by one of my puppy buyers (Lieuwe Bosma) who is training at Yvonne’s dog gundog school (Jachthondenschool Kaya). As we enjoy the same passion for gundogs and share the love for flatties we felt it would be awesome to host a working test workshop – primarily for our own litters. As many were busy with holiday catch ups – there were some spaces left for guests and we were even joined by a very talented golden retriever.
Our program was full and after a short introduction of one another we started the day with heelwork practice. First we shared some tension regulation tools as we had steadyness practice later to come and then we started with the basics of double marking heelwork. This means teaching the dogs to turn on the spot from the front – or hind legs, sitting and standing.
While I was holding the “heelwork bootcamp” Yvonne had the other group in steadyness practice. Using the air & go while working from a line, who would have thought that a group of young flatties could do so well? The handlers were in need of a good lunch and some time to unwind after the morning program. A nice cup of warm pumpkin soup, richly filled sandwiches and plenty of chocolate (and for the dogs a big biscuit) – was all we needed to get started in the afternoon.
Yvonne had a nice marking exercise in and around crow decoys from a hut. We can proudly announce that all decoys were left unattended. No flattie flaws today!
As Yvonne and her helper were shooting around I had a duck and goose hunt at the waterside, doing a baby walk up – retrieving through the cover on a partly marked water retriever, partly on the sound of the foam duck hitting the water. All dogs were easy to work through the cover and all dogs managed to retrieve the huge foam goose from open water.
Not only did Yvonne and I enjoy the day with so many lovely flatties & a beautiful golden boy, it was very rewarding to see how many handlers made a slow shift of attention from aiming to control their dogs to working with the eagerness by positive reinforcement when the dogs do what we like to see. It is a hard change to make from trying to erase errors by control to enhancing the wanted behavior. Lovely to see how the dogs responded and started to do more of the good stuff. What touches me is the immediate improvement in the connection between dog and handler. Well done you all!