Untitled Document
Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland
Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland
 
Untitled Document
Home
About vom Sturmland
What is a Versatile
Hunting Dog?
Performance based
Breeding System
Dogs, Puppy's & Planned Breedings
Club Affiliations
Sales Policies and Training Services
Links
Handler's Training Page
Articles & Documents

Canadian American DK Club - CanAmDK - VCDKK

North American Deutsch Kurzhaar Club



Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland
DERBY/VJP TRAINING (THE SPRING TEST):

The following paragraphs describe the methods of training that I have used to train for the Derby and are subject to change based on my changing knowledge and evaluation of each. Since the Derby and the VJP are primarily evaluations of a puppies natural ability the focus of the training should be towards providing your dog as much field experience as possible. Field exposure is necessary in order for it to develop it's search, nose, and pointing instinct. Obedience and cooperation are also evaluated during either test so the appropriate training time should be given to each of those subjects as well.

The training methods below are offered only as guidelines based on my experience. All schematics, plans and diagrams are only examples and are not necessarily duplicates of conditions and setups that you may encounter during a test.

Before we begin, it's important to be aware that the Derby and the VJP, though both are tests for juvenile dogs, are not identical. They differ in the following three ways:
1. The VJP juvenile must be tested on a live rabbit track; the Derby has no tracking requirement.
2. The Derby juvenile must be evaluated during the "Wesen Test"; the VJP has no Wesen Test.
3. The Derby juvenile must be evaluated for "Desire to Work"; there is no specific "desire to work category" in the VJP test.Of course a dog with little desire will probably do poorly in either test.
_______________________________________________________________________________

The training descriptions provided below are presented in the same general order that the test subjects appear in the JGHV Association Utility Test (VZPO) rule book dated April1, 2004. Where differences occur between the Derby and the VJP I have noted those and in most cases inserted the differing subject. I have also inserted the desire to work category and the Wesen test category.

If your plan is to do only one of the two tests, simply exclude the items that are not relevant to the test your dog will do. It is the handlers sole responsibility to be familiar with the rules of each test entered. The information below is NOT a rule book nor is it intended to be. It is a guideline to help you understand what will be required of you and your dog during the test and an aid to help you conduct the basic training that can make you both successful.

Back to Top
________________________________________________________________________________

Subjects:

1. Tracking (Not a Derby category but will be evaluated if opportune)
2. Use of Nose
3. Search
4. Pointing
5. Cooperation
6. Gun Sensitivity
7. Desire to Work (Not a VJP category but a deficiency will probably effect the score)
8. Manner of Hunting (May be determined at either test if opportune)
9. Behavior and Conformation Faults
10. Obedience

Obedience is the most important aspect of training a versatile hunting dog in the German system. Regardless of the dog performance during the Derby, or any other test, teaching it to obey MUST be your primary focus if you expect owning the dog to be useful and pleasurable.

In my mind three commands represent the foundation of obedience training as it relates to the versatile hunting Deutsch Kurzhaar or any versatile hunting breed testing in the German system. Those are down, come, heel and sit. If those three commands are successfully taught, understood and enforced, the experience of testing, hunting and living with your dog will likely be an enjoyable one. If not, you'll probably have to live with a dog that won't stay put, come when it's called or walk quietly by your side. Hunting with such a dog will be a burden rather than a pleasure for you and those that hunt with you.

In addition to those three most important commands, teaching the dog to obey a "sit" command is practical for hunting purposes and should be taught along with the other three. If you expect to have a dog that will sit still in a duck blind or boat and sit for you when retrieving game to hand then the dog must be taught to do so.

During the Derby your dogs obedience will be evaluated and scored accordingly. A single infraction or two will not likely cause any problems but a pup that is persistently disobedient and unruly, runs off, won't come when called or is constantly tugging wildly against its leash will be frowned upon.

The judges will allow some flexibility based on the age of the pup but will not overlook continuous bad behavior. If you can teach your dog to obey the four commands noted above you'll have little to worry about with respect to the obedience category of the test. Keep in mind the evaluation of the dog's behavior during the event is a holistic one, thus the dogs behavior will be considered throughout the test.

A good lawyer will tell you that during a trial they never ask a question they don't already know the answer to. In the dog training world it's best to, "never give a dog a command you don't think it's going to obey", unless of course you're plan to discipline the dog for its disobedience on the spot. Doing so at a test will no doubt draw unwanted attention towards you and the dog so refrain from it unless it's absolutely necessary. If you've prepared the dog, it probably won't be.

Chances are you've already begun the process of teaching your dog the four commands listed above. Since you need to be sure the dog will behave for you when exposed to any reasonable scenario, there are a few things to think about that you may not have considered yet.

Many a handler, including myself, thought they were bringing a fairly well behaved pup to a test hunt, or dog event only to have the pup come unglued before their eyes. Trying to control a young pup in the presence of new conditions and distractions is usually an effort in futility. The primary reason for the bad behavior is that the pup wasn't accustomed to being around other dogs and large groups of people, a new location and or situation. The training was not adequate or complete, since it had not included discipline in the presence of various distractions. I can assure you that you will likely be embarrassed and disappointed under those circumstances so pay close attention here.

The dog must behave, regardless of the setting, so training a puppy in your back yard or with just you and your hunting buddy in your favorite field is not going to be enough. Basic training is only part of what is required to be successful. If the pups training has not included discipline while distractions are present then don't expect the pup to behave when those distractions are put in front of it. Further you have not done your job. Your job is to teach the pup to behave under all reasonable conditions and even some, that to most folks, wouldn't seem reasonable at all.

As part of training you simply MUST expose the dog to distracting situations that are similar to what it will come in contact with while hunting and during any dog event. After teaching the basics, sometimes referred to as "yard training", in every case you MUST conduct the training in the presence of distractions. Those distractions should include, other dogs, groups of people, children, farm animals, gun fire, game, different terrain, parked vehicles, odors, adverse weather conditions etc.

If you've successfully taught your dog to willingly obey the commands "come", "heel", "down" and "sit" with distractions present, you've come a long way towards building the foundation necessary to produce a worth while hunting companion. The dog will eventually be a pleasure to hunt with and will do well in the obedience category of the Derby.

Teaching Come:

To this point teaching your dog to come to you may have included coaxing the pup to you with small treats or good doggies and that's as it should be. But now that the pup is older other methods should be implemented to insure complete obedience.

First you need to ask yourself what behavior you expect when you give the dog a "come" command. Do you want the dog to only come in close proximity to you, to follow you, or to come right to you and stand or sit in front of you?
To me "come" means come directly to me immediately, sit directly in front of me, and wait for the next command. There are reasons for that and they will become apparent later on when we discuss manner of retrieve.

If you haven't already, now is the time to introduce the pup to a analogous whistle command. I use two long whistle blasts that mean come just to keep it simple, but you may choose a different signal.

Come is best taught using a light line such as a piece of clothes line about thirty or so feet in length with a clip on one end. You'll want the pup to be able to easily drag the line thru any cover without getting hung up, so the line should have no knots or handles tied into it. To avoid rope burns you may want to wear gloves. Let's begin the lesson by taking pup to a field that it has not been to before, preferably where there are other people or other dogs but any new place will due for the first session.

Transport the dog to the new location in his crate. Once there, open the crate door, grab pup collar under his chin, give a "down" command and pull the puppy to the down position in its crate. You may have to push down on the pup rear end since he doesn't quite understand what's going on. Once the puppy is down give it a couple of good doggies and attach your leash to its collar. Once the leash is attached give the puppy an "ok" release command and let the pup up. If it's old enough to jump from the crate to the ground let it do so, if not you'll have to place the puppy on the ground yourself. This ritual should be performed each and every time you plan to take pup into the field.

Ok we're on the ground. With pup on lead, your clothes line, and a few treats in hand walk the dog to an open area. Remove the leash and attach the clothes line to the pups collar. Let the puppy mill about, run around a bit, relieve itself and begin to explore a bit while you keep up with the end of the moving line. When you see the dog is facing away from you, grasp the line. Give the dog a single "come" command and pull it steadily to you. When it arrives immediately give it a treat and praise it heavily.

Repeat the drill five or ten times during each training session, giving the pup a treat each time. After a week or so of daily "come" lessons the pup should be coming to you on its own without the need to pull it to you, but continue to leave the line on the pup so you can enforce any infractions. This lesson will also get pup ready for introduction to the check cord which may be to heavy for it now if it's young.

Since the dog fully understands what you've taught it now you can introduce the analogous whistle command. Using the same methods as above simply give two whistle blasts then a quick come command. With enough repetition it wont take long before the dog anticipates the come command and obeys on the whistle blast only. From this point on make sure to mix in an occasional whistle signals during your outings with the dog to keep it's memory refreshed.

Now that the pup understand what come means you MUST begin introducing distractions during training sessions and changing locations frequently. That is the key to success if you expect the pup to obey in any circumstances. You should also decrease the frequency that you give out treats for success, but still mix one in occasionally. If you don't the dog will begin to expect one every time it comes to you.

There are any number of distractions you can use including something the puppy is paying a lot of attention to in the field, other dogs, groups of people, toys etc. Since training days with groups of dogs and hunters are most similar to conditions you will come upon during hunting, tests and other dog events you should attend as many as possible.

Take advantage of training days to correct you dogs behavior. If your in the habit of socializing at such events instead of focusing on training your dog that's fine, the exposure to other dogs and people is good for the dogs socialization, but don't expect much obedience if you haven't used those times to give the dog instruction and discipline.

As the pup grows you can begin to use a longer line and or a check cord for teaching it to come from longer distances. Over time you will be able to call the pup in verbally or with the whistle from any location or reasonable situation. If the dog declines simply go to the cord and pull the dog to you. If a circumstance arises, such as a bounding deer or rabbit that the dog begins chasing, and your sure the dog wont come even if you call it, then it's best not to give any command at all. You'll just be undoing what you've done. There are remedies for such behavior that we'll discuss later, but ALWAYS refrain from giving commands that you can't enforce.

Teaching Sit:

There is no specific rule in any DKV or JGHV test that a dog must obey a sit command. Though the behavior is not specifically required, a dog that sits when presenting game to its master, presuming all else went well, will usually be given a higher manner of retrieve score that one that does not. For that reason the sit behavior should be taught. Regardless of the test, the behavior is valuable during many real life hunting situations.

First let us define what "sit" means and why we need the dog obey that command. To me sit means the dog must put it rear on the ground immediately when I give it the command. The dog should stay on that spot until I give it a release command. I do not need to tell it to stay because in affect sit means sit and stay until I say it's ok to get up. In my opinion adding a stay command to your training makes no sense if the dog does what it's asked.

Teaching the pup to sit is usually one of the first commands new puppy owners teach and is easily done by simply giving the command and pushing the pups rear down simultaneously. If the puppy gets up give it a firm "no", put it back in the exact location it was, and repeat the above. If the puppy performs correctly reward it with a treat, if not, put it back on the spot again. Remember give the command just once. If the dog doesn't comply put it back on the spot immediately. It's ok to praise the dog and give it treats but be careful not to give it so much praise that the pup gets to excited to be still. A quiet, calm "good doggie" will do.

Once the puppy understands the command and sits every time you give it, you can begin putting a little distance between you and the pup after it sits. First give the dog the sit command and take a few steps backward. The dog will probably try to leave it's spot and come toward you. If the puppy gets up, give it a sharp "no" while going to it and putting it back on the spot it left. Gradually increase the distance until the pup will stay seated regardless. Begin changing the direction you move away from the pup like progressing around the numbers on a clock.

It's important that once you've given the dog the sit command you NEVER call the dog to you regardless of the distance between you and the dog. You MUST go back to the dog before releasing it. If you don't the dog will likely begin to anticipate a come command and break from the sitting position to come to you. Once the dog is older and the sit command is well embedded in it's mind you may be able to call it from it's location, but for now do not do it.

Eventually begin to turn with your back facing the puppy and walk away occasionally looking over your shoulder to see if the pup has obeyed. It's convenient to have a helper that can see the puppy give you a signal if the pup gets up. That way you will not have to check the pup yourself and can be quicker to make corrections. The pup will be astounded that you have eyes in the back of your head.

Now it's time to find yourself a place you can go out of pups sight after giving it the command. If you can arrange it so you can peek around the corner of your house or vehicle that will work. If you have a shed or another object that will work as well. If you can mix it up by switching locations after commands, even better.

Once the puppy understands and obeys the sit command you can begin introducing distractions and training in various locations under different conditions.

Teaching Heel:

If you've been taking the puppy on daily walks and it's tagging along nicely then you've already set the stage for more formal training. First lets decide what "heel" means. To me heel means walk at the same pace I am moving, on my left side (right side if your a left handed shooter). It also means that when I stop the dog stops and sits quietly by my side. The dog does not pull on the lead in any direction. When I turn, the dog turns. If I happen to be walking in the woods the dog maneuvers to the right side of obstacles, such as trees, dead falls or brush, so the lead does not become hung up.

Some handlers don't train their dogs to sit when the handler comes to a stop and that's fine if that's your preference. I prefer it so the dogs not milling around next to me. but sitting there quietly. That way the dog will be more attentive so when I'm ready to move it will be too.

For a puppy at least six months old I strongly recommend you use a pronged pinch collar for training it to heel. I do not recommend using a pinch collar on pups any younger but a regular chain choke collar will be fine. A pronged collar can easily harm a dogs wind pipe or neck in the hands of the inexperienced.

Also, it's important to know that there is a right way and a wrong way to place a pinch collar on a dogs neck. In order to get the best effect the collar must be put on correctly as in the picture below. Other collars should be removed prior to placing the pinch collar on the pup or it may not work correctly. As with any type of metal linked collar be careful not to get your fingers tangled or stuck in it or you may be injured. PHOTO

Once your sure you understand how the collar works and how to place it on the dog, it's good idea to take the dog on several long walks with the new collar so it gets used to the new type of restraint. Once the dog's used to wearing it you can begin the training.

With the dog on lead have it sit by your left leg (right leg for left handlers). Give the "heel" command and simultaneously step forward with you left foot and walk at your normal pace for about fifteen feet. Eventually the movement of your left foot will be the dogs cue to move forward or to stop.

If at first the dog resists moving give it a sharp, quick tug on the leash and a firm "heel". The dog may give a short whimper when pinched by the collar but will likely move with you quickly. When it comes with you praise it heavily. On the other hand if the dog lunges forward as if to pull you along, stop abruptly, give the dog a "sit" command and physically place the dog back at your side in the sit position.

If the dog seems to be heeling at your side well but will not sit when you stop you will need to use the pinch collar in the following manner. Hold the lead in both hands as if you were holding a shotgun in the chest position. Start in the sitting position and beginning walking. After a few step, stop abruptly and give the "sit" command while simultaneously giving a sharp jerk upward on the leash. Pulling the dogs head up sharply will usually make it sit eagerly. After very few times even the most stubborn dog will make an effort to sit to avoid the pinch.

Each time the dog heels correctly praise it. Also praise the dog each time it stops and sits. Over time the dog will become conditioned to heel with only an occasional command. Repeat this lesson for five or ten minutes each day until the dog is starting when you start and sitting next to you when you stop. From this point on each time you attach a lead to the dog it should be made to heel at your side until you give it a real ease command.

Once the dog is behaving perfectly begin to change the pace that you walk. Speed up, slow down and even jog or run. You do not want the dog to get into the habit of moving at the same rhythm or anticipating a start or stop. By implementing this method the dog will pay close attention to you, never being sure when you might pick up the pace, start or stop. An attentive dog will perform the task well.

A finished dog should heel by your side even when walking in heavily wooded areas or heavy brush always taking the inside track when approaching obstacles such as trees. Though there is no requirement during the Derby to show your dogs ability to do that, now is the appropriate time to begin training for it and it is done easily. All you'll need is to find a stand of small pole timber, several posts or similar obstacles and begin.

With the dog on lead head towards the obstacle. If the dog is heeling on your left side and it begins to pass to the left of the obstacle that will obviously leave you bound by the tree or post; you on one side and the dog on the other with the lead between. That type of entanglement is what we want to avoid. To avoid it we must teach the dog to cut to the inside (to the right of the obstacle) as we approach it. The skill can be taught quickly by heeling the dog quickly thru the field of obstacles. If the dog cuts to the left, give it a quick jerk making it collide with the obstacle. After a few abrupt collisions the dog will catch on and take the more comfortable path.

When using the pinch collar to train the dog to heel be very careful that you only use the amount of force necessary. Some dogs will require much less than others.

Once the puppy understands and obeys the sit command you can begin introducing distractions and training in various locations under different conditions. Since the dog is to eventually heel, on and off lead, even when it knows game is present and there are other dogs, people and activities around it, you'll have to train in such conditions.

In the past I've taken dogs to walk in front of grocery stores where people where constantly moving about in order to provide distraction for it. Most dogs will become unruly and excited, pulling in all directions when they believe they are going to be released or when they believe there is game present. Most dogs will also become unruly on the lead when other dogs are running free while they are restrained.

Knowing that, you must take advantage of those times to sternly enforce the rules and correct your dog accordingly. Remember, " don't use a please when you need a dam it!". Though I don't recommend harsh scolding's or handling of your pup in front of strangers at the grocery store, NEVER be embarrassed about disciplining your dog in front of other handlers during training. They will understand the necessity and likely offer suggestions and help.

Teaching Down:

Of all the behaviors you teach your dog, teaching it to take the down position is perhaps the most important. Obedience to the "down" command can also require significant training time to achieve perfection, but if you take advantage of opportunities to use the command during every day activities with your dog the training will be easier and more effective.

The main reason this training may require more time that say teaching the dog to sit is because, to a dog, lying down is the most submissive position it can take. Given the correct training most dogs will comply, but there is an occasional dog that simply will not submit to it. Such a dog is not a likely candidate for the association utility test (VGP) and may eventually develop other dominance related behavior problems. Even with that type of dog, if you begin the training at an early age you may be able to thwart such behavior. If not the chance for success will diminish as the pup ages, grows and becomes harder to handle.

Besides being an important behavior for hunting purposes, obedience training and a necessity to complete certain aspects of the VGP, the safety of your dog will be increased by training it to take the down position when commanded to do so. Many dogs have been saved from the path of on coming vehicles and other unsafe conditions because the dog was whistle down by it's handler. I have personally witnessed the usefulness of the command in defusing a potential altercation between two male dogs.

Before going further lets decide what down actually means. Many people confuse the "down" behavior with the "halt" behavior. They are not the same and for the sake of this book we are only teaching "down". To me the "down" behavior means when commanded to do so, the dog stops whatever it's doing, wherever it is, and assumes the down position immediately.

Some trainers prefer to wait until the dog completely understands the sit command prior to teaching the dog to lay down on command and in fact it's probably a little easier on the handler to do so since the dog is already half way there when it's in the sitting position. Even so, keep in mind the dog will be required to lay down on command regardless of whether it's sitting or standing. Though you can begin the training with the dog in the sitting position if you like, you will also need to train the dog to go down from the standing position as well.

So how do we begin teaching the down behavior? It's easiest to begin this training on a bench similar to the one in the PHOTO below. Since the position does require the dog to submit, it's a good idea to put the dog up on the bench where it may already feel a little vulnerable. It will also be easier for you to make eye contact with the dog. As a practical matter it's simply better on your lower back than squatting or kneeling down.

You may also want to restrain the dog by clipping a short lead to its collar, sliding it threw a hole on the bench and knotting it or securing it underneath. Make sure the leash is not so short that it will cause the dog to hang itself if it jump off the bench.

Standing at either end of the bench with the dog facing you in the sit post ion, establish eye contact with the puppy, give it a down command simultaneous pulling the bottom of the pups collar firmly to the bench. It's likely that the pup's rear will remain up and you'll need to push it down as well. The pup may struggle, squirm and fight to be released but do not let it up. Once the pup stops struggling give it quiet praise, a treat, and with a "release command" such as "ok" let the puppy stand again. Repeat this drill for five or ten minutes each day until the puppy begins to lie down on it's own when you give the command and does not get up until you give it the release command.

At some point during the training it's likely the puppy will begin to anticipate a down command and lie down before you've given it. If the puppy lies down before you've given the command you MUST immediately pull the puppy back to its previous position. It's important to do that without scolding the pup or telling it "no" or it will be confused simply pull it back up. In it's effort to please you the puppy may begin cueing off of your location or other body language and dropping to the down position before you've given the command. It also may just want a treat!

With that in mind you MUST avoid giving the command from the same location and only give an occasional treat. You MUST also constantly change the interval of time between commands so as not to get into a rhythm that the dog will become familiar with and anticipate a command based on timing.

Once the pup is obeying the down command perfectly in the bench, place the puppy on the ground at different locations and repeat the drill until the puppy will obey regardless of it's location. As with the sit command, begin to slowly ad various distractions and distance between you and the dog. Don't forget to give the command and then move out of sight slowly increasing the amount of time your not present.

When the dog is solid on the above you should introduce two analogous commands that mean "down". Once should be a visual command such as a raise palm; the other should be a single, shrill, whistle blast. To avoid confusing the dog it's best to introduce the two analogous commands simultaneously. You should be able to do this in short order by going back to bench training for a couple of sessions.

With a whistle in your left hand in the ready post ion, give the down command then quickly blow the whistle and raise your right hand simultaneously. Repeat this drill for several minutes daily. The dog will eventually begin to associate the three cues with one another and comply regardless of which command it hears or sees.

Finally when the dog understands that the three analogous commands all mean "down", begin to randomly alternate the commands at different locations, distance and especially in the field. For dogs that are less inclined to obey commands given from very long distances, you may need to occasionally introduce an electronic collar to enforce the down command, but with enough repetition, tenacity and vigilance it's likely you won't need to.

If you've successfully taught your dog to obey the four commands described above, and you continue to enforce each command and use each when a training opportunity presents itself, you've passed an important mile stone towards your dog's completion as versatile hunting dog. Your chances to do well during tests have increased tremendously, but more importantly you've, made your life, and the dogs life, easier and more pleasurable since you and the dog understand what to expect from each other.

11. Wesen Test (Not a VJP requirement)


_______________________________________________________________________________

1. Tracking (Live Rabbit) (VJP Only)

The Test:

During the VJP your dog will be given several opportunities to show it's ability to follow the track of a live rabbit. The dog's "will to track" and the dog's "track sureness" will be evaluated. In order to do well, when the dog is brought to the track, the dog should acknowledge the track exists, and show desire to follow it. It is not required that the dog see the rabbit; only that the dog shows it's desire to locate it by methodically following the scent.

There will likely be several volunteers moving thru an area known to hold rabbits. The volunteers (beaters) will be making noise and beating the vegetation with sticks in order to produce a rabbit. Those dogs that will be tested follow closely behind the beaters until a rabbit is produced. Once a rabbit is sighted you will be asked to move quickly to that location where the rabbit track will be shown to you. After allowing your dog to take in the scent of the rabbit, you will release the dog to follow the track on its own.

Note: Though tracking a live rabbit is not a specific subject of a Derby, if the pup is observed doing so during the test, the tracking work and manner of hunting will be evaluated and duly noted.

The Variables:

The variables here include, but are not limited to, weather conditions, vegetation, time of day, other ambient scent, and timing. The ability of the spotter to closely pinpoint the location that the rabbit was last seen is also a factor. Of all the possibilities, the rabbits behavior will probably affect the outcome more than any other variable.

Theoretically, the best possible conditions for your dog to follow a rabbit track is on a cool, damp, morning in short but heavy vegetation with little or no breeze. Under those conditions the scent would likely be distributed on the damp vegetation and lay close to the ground so your dog would have an easy time of it. Unfortunately, those conditions cant be ordered thus may not exist come test day.

The Strategy:

The strategy for this subject is simple: " Be ready when your called !" Follow the group of beaters as closely as possible, preferably in close proximity to one of the judges. The quicker you can get to the location your directed to, the stronger the scent will be. Since the judge must see the dog work the track, and someone must point out it's location, it makes sense to be as close to those folks as possible.

Keep the direction of the wind in mind. For example if you have a slight breeze moving right to left across the track the dog may do better if you start it slightly left of the location shown to you.

Perform the same ritual that you do when training for this subject, i.e. show your own interest in the starting point, let the dog sniff the area and get the scent, use the words you normally use to let your dog know what the situation is. I say to the dog, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit several times. Don't forget that you can guide your dog on the track for several meters before releasing it. When your sure the dog has the scent, smoothly release the dog. Be able to call your dog back when the judge requests that.

The Training:


Since none of the variables mentioned above can be controlled, the best way to prepare is to train under as many different conditions and at as many different locations as possible. Make sure the training includes the presence of other dogs and other people as there will be others present during this portion of the test.

If at all possible, train during warm weather, cool weather, at different times of the day and during windy and calm conditions. Occasionally train on rainy days, and if you have the opportunity, train in the snow. It's also a good idea to train when conditions are abnormally dry.

Make sure you include training in thick brush as well as thinly vegetated areas. Include training in open meadows as well as areas of briars and thickets. Many a dog has been disrupted by an unexpected blackberry patch or briar thicket during the rabbit track. If your dog's been exposed to that type of vegetation, it's more likely the dog will be able to navigate in it.

I can't stress the importance of performing a specific ritual for each training subject. For the tracking of a live rabbit that goes double. I say that because the VJP is a test of young dogs that may have not fully understand the concept of switching tasks. A young pup can easily become confused if it's getting mixed signals.

For example, a pup that has been over worked on rabbit tracks, who's owner has not fully developed the dog's understanding of task rituals, may assume bird scent left by a ground running game bird constitutes a track to follow and an opportunity to chase and retrieve. A dog that doesn't know when to switch gears may frequently track moving birds and pursue them as opposed to pointing. The dog may do very well tracking rabbits but poorly when the objective is solid pointing. On the other hand if rituals have been developed for both tracking and field work and the dog understands those, the dog will pick up on the differences in scent, visual and verbal cues, and realize the requirements have changed.

So when training the dog to track rabbits you must establish a ritual that will allow the dog to pick up on familiar cues, including scents, words and behaviors. Even specific clothing or other things you carry can cue the dog as to what is expected. The dog must understand what is being asked of it. That concept applies each different hunting task. The dog simply must know what it's being asked to do!

Because scent is an extremely important cue that helps the dog understand the work at hand, it's very important that a dog associates the scent it comes in contact with to the task it needs to perform. If the dog understands all of the visual, audio and olfactory cues it will likely perform the task well.

With a little consistency in training, a young puppy 3 to 4 months old can easily learn to track rabbits with little coaxing. The task should be fun for the puppy and it probably will be, if your interference is limited to the ritual you will perform to get the pup started.

As with most things a dog does for you, there should be some reward. In this case the reward will be finding a live rabbit at the end of the track. If your lucky the rabbit will give the dog the opportunity for a good chase or at least the dog will locate the rabbit and investigate. You definitely want the pup to believe that a live rabbit, and perhaps a hardy chase, will be at the end of every rabbit track.

Begin the training by letting the dog associate the scent of the rabbit with the rabbit. If you have an open cage where the dog can scent and view the rabbit that will work but keep your dog leashed so it doesn't injure itself biting at a wire cage. This is the time for the pup to begin associating your verbal cue with the task so while the pup is investigating you should be talking to it. I use the words, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit said repeatedly. The pup will soon learn to associate those words, combined with the scent to the task of tracking rabbits.

A safe way to accomplish the same thing is to place a live rabbit under a clothes basket turned upside down. The pup will be able to see and smell the rabbit and perhaps push the basket around a little.The pup may eventually tip the basket over in order to get to the rabbit; if it does that's fine. If it cant do that, you can do it for the pup. If a good chase in sues once the rabbit is out, even better. Once the pup has investigated or captured the rabbit, praise the pup heavily then put the rabbit away. After putting the rabbit away lead the pup back to the area and let it sniff around. Use your verbal cues while the pup is reinvestigating and give the pup some more praise.

That's all that will be required for the first training session. There's no need to do this more than once or twice. If you choose to do it twice, skip a day between sessions. Make this drill brief and fun, i.e. no more than 3 or 4 minutes. You never want the pup to tire of this activity and loose interest.

For the next drill you will need a helper and a live rabbit. You can conduct this session in your own yard if you have the room, but it's better to take the dog to an open field where you'll have a large enough area for a good rabbit chase.

While you stay in place with the dog on lead by your side, have your helper walk out a few yards directly in front of you and release the rabbit. Many domestic rabbits will simply stay put when released. If that's the case, ask your helper to prod the rabbit a little and or chase the rabbit a little to get it moving. Let the dog watch the entire event. Remember to use your cue words, i.e. rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

When your satisfied the dog seems interested, have your helper step away, then release the dog. Regardless of whether a chase in sues, after the dog comes in contact with the rabbit, pick the rabbit up and put it away and give the dog a few "good doggies".. You should only need to do this drill once. Skip a day or two before the next tracking training session.

For the next training session you will need a helper and a live rabbit and a mesh bag large enough to hold the rabbit. An onion bag seems to work as well as anything. You will also need a few feet of cord. You will also need a slip lead for releasing the dog.

This time you will need to find a training location where there's an open area adjacent to an area more densely vegetated. A grassy road adjacent to a brushy area or the edge of an agricultural field is a good setting for this training session. Any area where sparse vegetation changes abruptly to thicker vegetation will work fine.

The best time to conduct this initial field session is early in the morning when the dew is still on the vegetation. That will give the dog the best opportunity to follow the scent trail to the rabbit thus be successful.

Have your helper tie a few feet of cord to the mesh bag, place the rabbit in the bag, then proceed to the location where you will work.
Remove your regular lead and put the slip lead thru the dogs collar. From this point forward the slip lead should be the method you use to release your dog thus part of your rabbit tracking ritual.

(Click Here to See Slip Lead and Release.)

Facing the thicker vegetation, have the helper let the pup briefly sniff the rabbit in the bag. Next have your helper walk out a few yards from the edge of the thicker vegetation and put the bag on the ground. With the dog watching, have the helper drag the bag with the rabbit inside it from the open area into the thicker vegetation where the dog should loose site of the bag. A couple of obtuse turns and a track of about 40 yards is plenty of distance. At the end of the scent track, have the helper release the rabbit and move to a location where the dog can be observed but not distracted.

Walk your dog towards the spot where the rabbit was last seen and show interest in the location by touching and looking at the ground. Let your dog sniff the starting spot. Make sure you are using your verbal cue! Let the dog get the scent and then lead the dog a few yards down the track and release it. If the morning dew is thick enough, you should be able to see where the rabbit was drug so If the dog heads off in the wrong direction you should call it back and start again. It's likely that your dog will easily follow the scent and locate the rabbit. Hopefully a good chase will in sue but regardless, pick the rabbit up when the dog comes in contact with it.

Though following the rabbit track should be fun for the dog, DO NOT let the dog run off with the rabbit or turn this into play time. It's ok for the dog to hold the rabbit in it's mouth as long as it's bringing it back to you but the dog must know the rabbit is not a toy and that it ultimately belongs you.. That said, this in not a retrieving drill so there's no need to coax the dog into a retrieve. If the dog does not catch the rabbit and or pick it up that's ok, you'll have to collect the rabbit yourself.

Skip a day or two and repeat this drill exactly as before except this time make the track 50-75 yards long with several turns. At this point the dog should understand the work at hand because it has learned to connect the scent, sight and verbal cues with the work. Follow along with the dog and observe it's behavior. The dog should be methodically following the track toward the rabbit.

Once your positive your dog knows what expected you can begin changing terrain, vegetation type, temperature and weather conditions whenever possible. You should also begin to increase the difficulty by making more abrupt turns and lengthening the track. It's important not to drag the bag/rabbit in a straight line. If you continually create straight scent trails the dog will not be challenged and will likely begin to rush down the track toward the rabbit. If that becomes a habit the dog will very likely begin to miss turns and or break into more of a search pattern to locate the rabbit.

DO NOT overdue this training! Once the dog understands the verbal, sight and scent cues and knows what is expected, one session a week is plenty of training for this. If you over do it, the dog may eventually loose interest or show less desire. Always keep in mind that the dog MUST believe that there is a live rabbit at the end of the track. That knowledge will provide the lions share of incentive and desire to methodically follow the track.

You may be asking yourself, "Why drag the rabbit in the mesh bag?". Having raised domestic rabbits for several years I've come to understand that they are very susceptible to sudden death when over whelmed with fear. Simply dragging a live rabbit by a cord attached somewhere on it's body will likely cause the rabbit to pass out or even have a heart attack. Even if the rabbit does not perish it will likely be in know shape for a good run. By placing the rabbit in the onion bag, it is not being pulled directly. Indirectly dragging the rabbit by giving it a ride in the mesh bag seems to have less effect on the rabbit.



Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

2. Use of Nose


I goes without saying that your dog has a highly developed sense of smell. There's probably been as many proposed analogies regarding a dogs olfactory capabilities as compared to those of humans as there are breeds of dogs. My preference is a more scientific comparison and the most precise comparison I've found to date came from an on line encyclopedia; go figure.

In vertebrates (all animals with a spine) smells are sensed by olfactory sensory neurons (nerves) located in the olfactory epithelium (specialized innervated skin cells). The proportion of olfactory epithelium compared to respiratory epithelium (surrounding skin tissue without sensory neurons) gives an indication of the animal's olfactory sensitivity.

Humans have about 10 cm2 (1.6 sq in) of olfactory epithelium, whereas some dogs have 170 cm2 (26 sq in). A dog's olfactory epithelium is also considerably more densely innervated, with a hundred times more receptors per square centimeter.

Now I don't know if the above is analogous to a bb rolling down a six lane highway, but it gives a clear, fact based comparison of the sensitivity of a dogs nose and our lack there of. It's also important to know a little about how the olfactory system actually works if you want to get a clear picture of your dogs capabilities.

The olfactory sensory tissue is a tissue that secrets mucous. Upon entering the nostrils, odor producing chemical molecules are trapped in the moist mucous and dissolve there. Most of them finally reach the nerve rich olfactory tissue by diffusion. In some cases the chemical molecules bind directly to the nerves.

Sense the olfactory tissue depends on moisture to transport odor molecules, it makes perfect sense that to achieve optimal olfactory perception those mucous membranes must remain moist. That fact is a very good reason to keep your dog well hydrated. Some good dog men go as far as dampening their dogs nose with a misting bottle regularly during field work. A palm full of water occasionally rubbed on the dogs nose and allowed to wet its nostrils cant hurt.

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

3. Search

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

4. Pointing

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

5. Cooperation

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

6. Gun Sensitivity

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

7. Desire to Work (Derby Only)


The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

8. Manner of Hunting

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

9. Behavior and Conformation Faults


The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

10. Obedience

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

11. Wesen Test (Derby Only)


The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


Back to Subjects
_______________________________________________________________________________

Summary:

Back to Top
_______________________________________________________________________________

Hunting Applications:

Back to Top
_______________________________________________________________________________

These very small cages were eaisl constructed of 4" PVC piping and wire meshA 209 primer gun  is a good way to get your puppy used to gun fire


Back to Top



Untitled Document
Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland

Gary Fleming
vectortfl@outlook.com