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Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland
JGHV ASSOCIATION UTILITY TEST (VGPO) TRAINING

The following paragraphs describe the methods of training that I have used to train for the VGP and are certainly subject to change based on my changing knowledge and evaluation of each. They are not methods I invented but are comprised of methods that I've seen others use and that I've used successfully. Every dog is different so modifications will likely need to be made to any or all of the methods described herein based on the behavior of a specific dog or situation.

The training descriptions given are presented in the same order that the test subjects appear in the JGHV Association Utility Test (VGPO) rule book, dated April1, 2004. It is the sole responsibility of the handler to be aware of and familiar with the current VGPO rule book. The training methods below are offered only as guidelines based on my current level of experience. All schematics, plans and diagrams are only examples and are not necessarily duplicates of conditions and setups that you may encounter during any JGHV test.

Click Here for a VGP Training Checklist

FOREST WORK SUBJECTS:

Work in the Forest includes: Blood Tracking, Retrieving of a Fox over an Obstacle, Furred Game Drags in the Forest, Independent Search in the Forest and Search in Dense Cover.

Subjects:

1. Blood Tracking

2. Retrieving of Game of Obstacle
3- 4. Furred Game Drags in the Forest
5. Independent Search in the Forest (Stobern)
6. Search in Dense Cover (Buschieren)

Forest Work Hunting Applications
Forest Work Summary

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WATER WORK SUBJECTS:

Work in the water included's: Independent search without the duck, gun shot soundness, blind retrieve , independent search with live duck and retrieving of the duck. All of the work with the exception of gun shot soundness is conducted in "densely vegetated water".

Subjects:

Water Work Preface
1. Independent Search Without Duck

2. Gun Shot Soundness
3. Blind Retrieve
4. Search with the Live Duck
5. Retrieving of the Duck


Water Work Hunting Applications
Water Work Summary


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FIELD WORK SUBJECTS:

Field work includes: Use of Nose, Search, Pointing, Manners Behind Game Including Relocating, Retrieving of Feathered Game and Manner of Retrieving Feathered Game.

Subjects:

1. Use of Nose

2. Search
3. Pointing
4. Manners Behind Game
5. Retrieving of Feathered Game
6. Manner of Retrieving Feathered Game

Hunting Applications
Field Work Summary


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OBEDIENCE SUBJECTS:

The Obedience subjects include: General Behavior Obedience, Obedience During Drive Hunt, Heeling on Leash, Heeling off Leash, Down Stay, Steadiness to Wing, Steadiness to Fur, and Steadiness to Shot.

1. General Behavior Obedience
2. Obedience During Drive Hunt
3. Heeling on Leash
4. Heeling off Leash
5. Down Stay
6. Steadiness to Wing
7. Steadiness to Fur
8. Steadiness to Shot

Obedience Applications
Obedience Summary


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VGP TRAINING SUMMARY:


VGP Summary

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FOREST WORK:

Work in the Forest includes: Blood Tracking, Retrieving of a Fox over an Obstacle, Furred Game Drags in the Forest, Independent Search in the Forest and Search in Dense Cover.

1.Blood Tracking

Since it's so involved and because there are several separate tests for blood tracking I have assigned Blood Tracking it's own training section. You can navigate to that section by going back to the index on the training page or by clicking here: Blood Tracking

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2. Retrieving of game over an obstacle:


Training your kurzhaar to retrieve game over obstacles is fairly easy. Keep in mind that this part of the test may also be set up using a ditch or even a dead fall but it's usually done using an obstacle similar to those in the photos below.

In order to successfully complete the VGP your kurzhaar MUST be sufficient at retrieving of the fox* over the obstacle OR retrieving of a fox* on a drag in the forest.

* Note: A racoon, coyote or bobcat may be substituted for a fox for the "retrieving of game over an obstacle". provided it is the appropriate weight (approximately 7.5 lb.)

The Obstacle:
When constructing an obstacle for training it is important that you make it stable enough that the logs or material used does not move much or fall and cause your kurzhaar to be leery of jumping it or even worse; be injured. It is also important that the spaces between the material is not big enough for the dog to slip thru or the dog will likely try to find an opening and enter there instead of jumping in as it should.

The obstacle must be between 70-80cm (27.75-31.50 inches) high and built in such a way that the dog does not become entangled in it. There is no width x length measurement specified in the rule book but common sense dictates that there must be sufficient room for the dog to maneuver. An obstacle that is at least 3.5 m x 3.5 m should be sufficient.

Logs stacked like this with the corners tied can be a stable obstacleA puppy watches as an older dog enters the box

The Test:
You must send your kurzhaar from at least 5 meters away from the obstacle. On a single command,i.e. your fetch command, the dog should jump into the box; pickup the game without hesitation; jump out and return to you with the game. Keep in mind that manner of retrieve is being evaluated throughout the test.

Strategy:
Most dogs don't have any problem jumping the obstacle and retrieving the game provided they are completely force broken on the game that you choose to have them retrieve. As with any training it is better to take baby steps but I've seen dogs that will do this on the first try. It's also of value to have your kurzhaar watch another dog do it first. That seems to get the competitive juices flowing in some dogs.

Technically the dog should enter the box at the front and come out that way as well. In the past I have had dogs that would circle the box and go in from the back or side. You may be able to eliminate that behavior by putting the back of the obstacle you use for training against a fence or by making the back and sides solid or hard to enter at those locations. In any case you should make an effort to get your kurzhaar to enter correctly from the front and return the same way.

You may want to start your training by taking a couple of the front rails off of the obstacle so it's not so hard for the dog to enter. You can put them back when you're satisfied the dog is ready to go to the next height.

This dog is ready to fly

It's a good idea to begin with something the dog likes to retrieve such as a duck or rabbit or even a dummy.That will get the dog used to going in and out of the box. Most of the problems with this training usually relate to refusal to pick up the game once in the obstacle, i.e. many dogs do not enjoy picking up a fox or coon. That's simply a force breaking issue and can be easily corrected if your kurzhaar is force broken.

At the test the dog will be sent from at least 5 meters in front of the obstacle but you need not start out that far away for your first few training sessions. A few meters is plenty far enough at first. That distance will allow you to get to your kurzhaar quickly if you need to apply force breaking discipline.

Releasing Your Dog:
Sit the dog a few meters in front of the obstacle and have it stay there; take the game in your hand and step into the box with it. Show the game to the dog by shaking it a little as if it were alive. Step out of the box and go back to your kurzhaars side. Give the dog your version of the fetch command.

If the dog does not enter the box or enters it and does not bring the game out you may have to reinforce your force breaking training with the ear pinch. If your kurzhaar drops the game when coming out due to the momentum of jumping out, that will not be considered a fault during the test as long as it picks the game back up immediately and brings it to you. If the dog spends to much time sniffing around the game in or out of the box you may be able to give it a firm "Fetch" instead of the ear pinch but if the problem persists you'll have to apply the discipline.

If you have a helper they can stand in the box and show your kurzhaar the game. The helper should then drop the game; step out of the box; and come behind you or else the dog may decide to retrieve the game to your helper instead of bringing it to you.

You can increase the distance to 5 meters and make the obstacle the appropriate height over a few training sessions. In my opinion dogs really begin to enjoy this if it's not over done. I have often seen my dogs jump in and out of the obstacle box I have set up in my kennel area just for fun.

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3 - 4. Furred Game Drags in the Forest:

* Note: Just as with retrieving game over an obstacle a racoon, coyote or bobcat may be substituted for a fox for one of the furred game drags in the forest provided it is the appropriate weight (approximately 7.5 lb.)

To successfully complete the VGP your kurzhaar MUST be sufficient at retrieving of game over the obstacle OR retrieving of game other than the rabbit from the forest. One of the furred game drags in the forest MUST be a rabbit and your kurzhaar MUST complete that successfully to pass the test.

The Variables:
I've lumped the furred game drags in the forest together since they are essentially the same except for the game used for each, i.e. one rabbit drag and one fox drag*. From time to time I may refer to both drags as if I am discussing just one:

The primary difference between the game drag in the woods and the game drags that you've done while training for the Solms/HZP is the, terrain, distance and potential for distraction. In addition one of the drags is done with a game animal other than a rabbit, i.e. fox, coon, bobcat or coyote.Of those differences the change in terrain is most note worthy.

A dog is much more likely to become distracted by game trails and other scents in the forest than in a more open environment. The dog will also have to follow the scent thru vegetation and other types of cover. There is the added disadvantage that you most likely will not be able to see your kurzhaar for most of the drag.

The Test:
At the test the game will be drug on a drag cord by a judge for 300 meters and the drag will have two obtuse angles. The first obtuse angle must begin approximately 100 meters from the starting point.The handler may work the dog the first 20 meters on lead if desired.

For a Schematic Plan of the Drag Click Here


The drag will likely start just inside the edge of the woods but may start in an open area, go for a short distance and then enter the woods. A small amount of the game animals fur will be removed (usually from the belly) and placed on the ground to designate the beginning of the drag. The dog should follow the drag scent until it comes to the game, pick the game up without hesitation and return it to the handler.

I find that it is to my advantage to moisten the game lightly with a water sprayer before handing it off to the judge. A moist piece of game leaves more scent on the ground for a dog to follow. In windy conditions that can be a plus.

The Game:
Since game type should not be a factor with a completely force broken dog we won't discuss it much here but it is addressed in the section on force breaking. It suffices to say that for success on furred game drags in the forest your kurzhaar must be force broken for the game you'll use. Also, the game,i.e. fox, coon, bobcat or coyote must be the required weight of at least 3.5 Kg (7.5Lb).
There is no published weight for rabbits but a grown rabbit of around 3-5 Lb. is normally used. Some judges frown on the use of rabbits that are predominantly white in color. I can find no specific color requirements for rabbits in the VGP rule book. Try and obtain natural color rabbits for training and testing purposes so there will be now questions.

Drag Strategy:
By now your kurzhaar has likely done a number of successful drags in open areas with both furred and feathered game. The training you've done for that is the basis for training for drags in wooded terrain. Like any training you should start off by determining what the variables are and take small steps. As mentioned above; the variables of furred game drags in the forest are: terrain, distance, difficulty and game type.

Presuming you've had success with rabbit and feathered game drags and your kurzhaar is force broken on the type of game that you intend to use, we can begin by discussing the strategy for laying a drag track:

It is very important that you have a helper for dragging game. If you train for this by doing drags alone; when you send the dog you'll have no way of knowing if it's bringing you the game or running off into the next county. At a minimum, you'll have no way of knowing how the dog performed along the drag or how it acted when it came in contact with the game.

Before you begin the drag, discuss with your helper what you will each do if the dog does not perform as planned. For example if the dog picks up the game and takes it to your helper instead of you then you'll want your helper to be perfectly still and remain silent or you may want your helper to signal you to call your kurzhaar.If your kurzhaar comes in contact with the game and does not pick it up, you may want your helper to give your kurzhaar a fetch command or even pinch the dogs ear for you while making the dog pick up the game. At the very least you will want your helper to let you know immediately what's going on so you can take the appropriate action if your kurzhaar is not compliant.

Having someone other than yourself dragging the game is also important because it gets the dog used to the scent of other people so it's not spooked if it happens to scent or see a stranger in the woods. The more different people that you can have drag game for you the more confident you can be that your kurzhaar will not get spooked or distracted. I make a habit of introducing my dog to all of the judges at the beginning of a test for that very reason. Once the dog is familiar with their scent it should have no problem when it comes into contact with them.

As with your first rabbit drag, it's a good idea to let the dog see your helper start the drag. 75 meters is plenty long for the first drag in the woods. Try and pick a location that either inclines or declines enough that you can see enough to evaluate your kurzhaars performance. You needn't put any obtuse angle is the drag the first few practice sessions. Initially you should just try assess your kurzhaars performance and make corrections or rewards as necessary.

Take the wind conditions into consideration before laying the drag track. You want to drag the game with the wind so that your kurzhaar will have to keep it's nose to the ground to stay on the scent and locate the game. If you do otherwise the dog may scent the game in the wind and go into a search pattern instead of deliberately following the drag track. A dog that breaks into a search pattern will be given a lower score at the test even if it successfully retrieves the game.

Also, keep in mind that if the track is laid with a breeze crossing it, the dog may parallel the drag track on the down wind side since the scent will likely be stronger there. There is nothing wrong with the dog paralleling the drag track as long as it finds and retrieves the game. In fact you may encounter similar wind conditions during the test. Seasoned judges will be aware of the existing wind conditions and score the dog appropriately.

To begin the drag your helper should remove some of the animals hair and place it at the starting point. The helper can also pull the game back and forth on the starting spot to give the spot a little extra scent. Your dog should watch the entire ritual the first couple of times so it gets the idea.

The helper should drag the game the desired distance and after removing the drag cord from the game; leave the game in a relatively open place. Make it clear to your helper that they must remove the drag cord from the game. You absolutely do not want a flailing drag cord to swing and hit your kurzhaar or make it trip when it is headed back to you with the game in it's possession. After removing the drag cord, your helper should continue on the same line as the game was drug and hide as not to be seen by the dog. After hiding the helper can signal you to release your kurzhaar. A pair of short wave radios work great for communication when training for drags but a loud yell will do just as well for short drags.

The Slip Lead:
Experienced handlers use a slip lead like the one in the photo below for releasing their dogs on drag tracks. The slip lead is looped around the dogs collar and the handler grasps both ends of it in one hand. Using this type of lead allows for a smooth release, with no jerking or stopping when the handler releases the dog while moving the dog down the scent line.

A 3/4" wide by 72" long slip lead works well for me

I like to use a slip lead that's around two meters in total length and three quarters of an inch wide. For someone my height that's long enough to allow the dog to get it's nose on the ground but not long enough to allow the dog to get off of the track or create a tripping hazard for me. There are many over priced slip leads available but any woven polyester tape, or even a small diameter rope can serve this purpose.

If you hold the lead like this you can easily realease the bottom half and hold onto the top half

Releasing Your Dog:

With your Deutsch kurzhaar in the sitting position, slip one end of the slip lead under the front of the dogs collar forming a loop. Holding both ends of the slip lead in your release hand bring the dog up to the starting spot. Show the dog the spot by touching the spot with your hand, showing that your are interested in the spot; then let your kurzhaar sniff the spot and get the scent.


Belly fur usually designates the start of a furred game dragBring the dog up to the starting spot and let in sniff around and get the scent then begin moving down the drag

It's important to give the dog enough slack with the slip lead so that it can get it's nose down to the ground. Lead the dog down the scent line until you're comfortable the dog is on the track, give it your fetch command and release the dog. Make sure to release the bottom half of the lead and not the top when sending the dog. If the top is released it may slap the dog on the head as it is pulled thru the collar. An accidental slap on the head may confuse and distract the dog.

Remember you can work your kurzhaar up to 20 meters down the drag. That's especially important in breezy conditions so the dog heads out in the correct direction. Many handlers forget they can move up the drag 20 meters even though it's to their advantage to do it. I have forgotten it myself out of nervousness at the test.

Remember, you can move  up the drag 20 meters before releasing the your dog.

The dog should methodically follow the scent line to the game, pick the game up without hesitation and return it to you. It's ok if the dog goes past the game and finds your helper as long as the dog comes back to the game and brings it back to you. Since some dogs tend to do exactly that; many handlers choose to use two game animals.

The general theory behind using two game animals is if the dog passes by the first game animal and goes to the person who did the drag; the dog will pick up the second game animal which is left on the ground at the location where the person doing the drag is hiding. I have used two game animals at a test in the past with a dog that I thought might pass by the first one and go directly to the judge. Ironically, the dog picked up the first rabbit with no problem so the second game animal wasn't needed.

Retrieving of the Fox from  350 Meters

If your Deutsch kurzhaar performs successfully you should praise the dog heavily as soon as it is in site and hearing range. If the dog comes back without the game you should get to the dog immediately and apply the ear pinch while proceeding to the game. Make the dog keep the game in it's mouth while you both walk back to the starting point. If the dog has been unsuccessful you should probably shorten the distance considerably and try it again praising the dog heavily for success but applying immediate discipline for failure. It's always a good idea to have some treats available to reward the dog for good behavior.

Changing the Variables:
If the dog completes the 75 meter straight drag with no trouble you can begin to increase the distance and put a couple of turns in the drag during your next training session. If you continue to do your drags in a straight line you may end up with a dog that charges out to the game with it's nose high presuming the game is straight out from the starting point. A dog that does that will probably go by turns and fall into a search pattern. A dog that has been trained by putting sharp turns in the drag will anticipate them and move along the drag scent more methodically with its nose to the ground. Within a few sessions your kurzhaar should have no problem following drags with two obtuse angles and the full 300 meters but it's fine to make the drags a little tougher when training for the reason I stated above.

Once your kurzhaar has performed successfully at a full distance drag with two obtuse angles successfully 3 or 4 times you should start changing up the terrain. In other words do the drags in different types of forest such as oak bottom land, pine forest, thick underbrush and so on. You should also make an effort to train in different weather conditions such as rain and snow. Don't assume test day will always be sunshine and lollypops.

The only rabbit drag that a dog I trained failed during a test was one that was drug in a forest that cattle used for grazing. Not being used to livestock and livestock dung my dog simply would not focus on the scent of the drag. The more different types of terrain and conditions you train in, the more confidence you can have in the way your kurzhaar will perform at the test.

Setting your Dog up for Correction:
If your Deutsch kurzhaar has had complete success training for furred game drags in the woods and has done everything perfectly with no corrections then it's time to worry. In order to be assured of success you must occasionally set the dog up for failure. The failure should include correction so that the dog knows that it MUST perform. A dog that does everything correctly all the time has no idea what the consequences are for not doing it's job.

The simplest way to set the dog up is to have your helper drag the game thru the woods to a location where you have a tree stand set up for deer hunting. Instead of leaving the game on the ground the helper should take the game up into the tree stand. When the helper is sure that the dog is headed back to you without the game; the helper should drop the game from the stand onto the ground and signal you that the dog is on it's way back to you. When the dog arrives, the handler should immediately apply the ear pinch and take the dog back to pick up the game pinching it's ear all the way.

Once you've disciplined the dog give the dog the opportunity to redeem itself by being successful on a short easy drag. When the dog brings the game to you, praise the dog like it brought you a gold bar and give it a treat.

You shouldn't need to set your kurzhaar up like that more than a couple of times before it gets the message that retrieving game on the drag scent is a MUST do. In addition, I don't recommend that you follow this procedure more than once during any training session or on consecutive training sessions. You don't want to discourage your kurzhaar from believing that retrieving dragged game is a pleasure. A time or two usually does the trick.

Training for on drags once or twice a week at the most is probably plenty to get you where you need to be. Like all training if you over do it your kurzhaar will become bored and will probably begin to waiver from perfection.

Most dogs catch on pretty quick to following drags thru forest since they usually have ample previous experience doing drags in open areas.

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5. Independent Search in the Forest (Stobern):

The requirements of the independent search in the forest are that your kurzhaar search alone in the forest when given the command to do so. The dog must search out in front of you and not behind you.You will not be allowed to use the word fetch to send the dog since this is not necessarily a retrieving subject so you need to establish a command to send your kurzhaar into the forest to search.
I use the German name of this test to send my dog which is "Stobern".

The Test:
Your dog will be required to search an area, usually in the woods, of around 2.5 acres. That is roughly 500' x 500' but there is no requirement that the area must be a square. In addition other terrain such as thickets, cattails etc. could be used instead of woods.

During the test the judges will position themselves within the woods for the purpose of determining how much of the area your kurzhaar searches. In a nut shell the more judges the dog comes in contact with the better the dogs score will be.

Click Here for an Example of the Independent Search (Stobern) Test Setup

Want BTR (Retrieving Reliability Test) Information? Click Here


Strategy:
The idea is that you get the dog to search the width and depth of the search area thoroughly and independently. Many dogs have a naturally propensity to cover a lot of ground and don't require as much work as other dog do when training for this. But I wouldn't use an evaluation of your kurzhaars ability to cover ground as a factor to depend on for the test. It may not happen come test time. For that reason, you'll need to prepare the dog well for this portion of the test.

The training done for this subject is pretty much identical to the training that handlers do for the BTR test which is also known as the "Retrieving Reliability Test". The main difference is that the dog is not required to retrieve game in this subject of the VGP forest work. Also the training for this subject and the BTR are not unlike the initial land phases of training for the blind retrieve of a dead duck in the water. That will become plain to see as you read forward.

Like all other training, you will want to develop a ritual for this task so that your kurzhaar understands what you're about to ask it to do.

For example when I release my dog for the independent search I perform the following ritual.
I sit the dog down in the approximate center of the area to be searched and have it stay. I walk about 10 meters to the right; make eye contact with the dog; and hold my hands out toward the search area. When I'm sure the dog has made eye contact with me at that location, I walk in front of the dog and repeat the same thing on the left side.

After doing all of that I go back to my dogs side and send it using my search command. In reality the details of how you perform your ritual are probably not as important as the dog connecting what you're doing with the task at hand. What's most important is you follow the same ritual each time you train for this subject and do the same on test day.

The Variables:
The variables here are: terrain, width and length of the area, the number and placement of the ducks, rabbits, dummies etc.

Use the same training place for the first several training sessions until the dog connects the ritual and command to the task. When you're sure the dog is performing well at that location begin to train in other areas that have other types of wood, undergrowth and topography.

In addition, begin to vary the width and depth of the search area. Initially you should start out by setting out three or four objects for retrieving such as dead ducks, rabbits, dummies or a mixture of all three. Eventually you'll want to make the search harder by using one piece of game and changing it's placement in the search area. The intent is not to get the dog to hone in on one location i.e., directly out in front of you; it is to get the dog to thoroughly cover as much of the search area as possible.

The Training:
Start out by putting your Deutsch kurzhaar in the sit position but before performing the ritual but let the dog watch you place an object in the woods directly in front of the place that you will release the dog. 15-20 meters is plenty for the first few times. Come back to the dog and go thru the ritual then send the dog.

The dog will catch on quickly that the normal fetch command and the new search ritual command mean something similar. If you use a directional signal such as an extended arm or a tap on the head along with your normal fetch command you can continue to do that in order to further help the dog make the connection.

The dog must be successful and if it's not it must be disciplined. When the dog is successful don't forget to praise the dog heavily. It's ok to give an occasional treat to reward the dog for good behavior.

Make note of what the dog is doing each training session. If you see that the dog always heads off in the same direction then anticipate that and place the objects in the other direction next time. Give the dog correction if it does not bring the object back.
If the dog seems to always mill around within site of you then make sure you're not putting the object to close. If the dog continues that then you may need to ear pinch the dog out to the game.

Remember that the dog should be searching out in front of you and NOT behind you. If you see that the dog may head behind you take immediate action to correct it. A good firm no with a directional command usually works for correcting that but you may want to get your kurzhaar, shake it by the collar and resend it with a firm search command. It may take several corrections for the dog to finally understand that you want it to search the area out in front of you.

When you're comfortable the dog understands the task and the dog has been completely successful at shorter distances then begin to place two or three dead ducks or scented dummies about 30 meters out and 20 meters apart in the search area. There's no need to hide them so put them in plain site.

Overtime increase the distance and the number of objects; spread the objects farther apart and deeper into the woods. Eventually you should expand the distance between the objects until you're dog will go out 200 meters or more to search for them. At this point a properly placed helper or two can give you helpful feedback regarding the dogs behavior when it's out of your site.

Even though the dog will not be required to bring back game for this subject, you should make sure that it ALWAYS brings it back during training.

With most training there is more than one way to get the same result. I know other handlers that have had success training for the Stobern by making use of treats. They have their helpers offer the dog a treat whenever the dog comes in contact with a helper out in the search area. Overtime the dog learns to search for the helpers to get the treat.

I have never used that method but it may work and I may try it at some point. That said, the purpose of the training is to teach the dog to find game when your hunting, not to teach it to find people and treats.

My concern would be that the dog might find a judge and stay at that location waiting for a treat but like I said; I've never used the method and I know that some folks have used it successfully.

Perhaps if the treats were just placed in the general area of the helper I would be less concerned about trying that method of training. If the training was done in that manner, the dog probably wouldn't mill around for to long by a judge in the test area.

All considered I am certainly not opposed to giving the method a try. Every handler should be careful not to let themselves get trapped into thinking that one method works on ever dog. That's just not the case. Be willing to make a change in your training methods; especially if you think it might improve the dogs hunting skills.

Most dogs fail the Independent Search in the Forest subject of the VGP due to milling around in the handlers site, searching the wrong area, i.e. the area behind the handler or getting hung up on some other distraction. Keep in mind that this subject basically revolves around a replacement of your normal fetch command with a search command. Whatever replacement word you use it is still a MUST do command. The dog needs to understand that completely.

Note: Once you begin placing objects deeper and farther apart in the woods you'll want to mark the locations where you've left the game so you can easily relocate the game in case you need to correct your kurzhaar and or pick up your game when the training session is completed.

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6. Search in Dense Cover (Buschieren):


The Dense Cover Search is conducted in thick cover such as clear cuts or stands of pole timber with heavy under growth. The dog should search under the gun just as if you were hunting in such vegetation. At least one shot will be fired during this subject. Your dog is expected to hunt in a manor that is commensurate with the density of the cover and topography. The dog should search the selected area methodically at a pace that the handler can easily follow. The dog's cooperation and propensity to stay in contact with the handler are heavily weighted.

The Test:
At the test you'll be asked to hunt your Deutsch kurzhaar in an area where cover is fairly thick but navigable. You should hunt the area in exactly the same manner that you would in a real life hunting situation. The idea is that your kurzhaar should be searching to locate game for you to shoot. As with other subjects you should have developed a specific ritual for this type of hunting. The same ritual that you use for bird hunting in open areas can be used for this subject.

Your dog will be expected to hunt in dense vegetation; usually in a wooded area.

The dog is expected to hunt the selected terrain methodically and stay in general contact with you during the search. A dog that rarely checks in with you and is constantly out of site will be scored lower. A dog that maintains a reasonable distance from you, does a thorough, methodical search and hunts at a distance and manner that is suitable for the type of cover your hunting in will be given higher scores. Handling of the dog is permitted but excessive handling i.e. to much whistle blowing or to many verbal commands is frowned upon and will likely decrease the dog's score.

Most likely you'll be directed to hunt the area by making a gradual loop back to the starting point. You may even be directed to make a couple of sharp turns during the simulated hunt. Obviously this is a way to determine if the dog shows willingness to stay in contact with you by making the same changes in direction that you do. At some point during the subject you'll be asked to fire your shotgun and the dogs reaction to that will be evaluated by the judges.

The dog should  locate you and stay in contact.

The Strategy:
You should carry your shotgun during this subject. Not only because you will be required to fire a shot during the hunt so the judges can again evaluate your kurzhaars reaction to it but because it should be part of the ritual you've developed for this type of hunting.

The dog should believe that it's participating in an actual hunting event so, along with carrying a shotgun, you should incorporate the details of your ritual for the hunt by wearing the same clothing, hat, carrying a gun, etc. and act accordingly. If you've a command or release that you use for hunting birds in the field you should use it. For example I use the words "go on" to release my dog and "hunt em up" to let the dog know we're in bird hunting situation.

Since a big part of this subject is based on the dogs performance with respect to developing a search that is commensurate with the terrain and cover, it stands to reason that you and the dog need to have experience hunting in various types of dense terrain. Additionally, the dog must expect to find game thicker cover just like it does when in a more open setting. For that reason you will need to incorporate birds into your Buschieren training sessions.

The dog must learn two things in your training sessions. The first is that it is just as likely to come into contact with game in thicker terrain as it is in the open. The second thing it must learn is that the game is likely not far from the handlers locations.

There is really no substitute for experience when training for the search in dense cover. The more thick, brushy and dense vegetation that you can expose your kurzhaar to the better. I believe the training for this actually begins in the early stages of the dogs exposure to the field with the handler. A dogs desire to stay in contact with its handler is pack behavior and its role in the pac is established at a young age. A dog that has learned to make regular contact with you and sees you as the leader is usually not a self hunter. That type of dog usually has no problem meeting the requirement of the Buschieren. Hopefully by now that is the type of relationship that you've been able to develop and enjoy with your kurzhaar. If you're not confident that it is, go back and read the sections on the Derby/VJP Test. Specifically the portions on cooperation and quartering.

The Variables:
The variables of concern for this subject are the type of cover and the speed at which you and your kurzhaar will move thru it. You should vary the locations of the training sessions incorporating several different types of fairly dense cover so the dog learns how to work in various situations. Keep in mind that even though the cover should be thick, it should not be so thick that you can't maneuver thru it. You and the dog must learn to adjust your hunting pace relative to the type of cover your hunting in.

Train in various types of cover.

Training:

Each training session don your ritual costume including your gun. You may wish to start your Deutsch kurzhaar with a "hunt em up" type command in the open and then enter the woods. Note whether or not the dog changes its search pattern and its distance from you to it, when searching in the thicker cover.

If the dog get out of your site for more than 30 seconds or so call it back to you. Walk thru the woods in a straight line at first, calling the dog back to you when you think it is not staying in contact. You may not have to do that much if your kurzhaar seems to adjust well to the cover and is checking in regularly.

The next few training sessions on this subject begin to move thru the thick cover in a zigzag fashion just as if you were training the dog to quarter an open field (see derby section). Whenever the dog is not looking turn and walk away from it in the opposite direction. Most dogs will panic a little when they believe they may have lost you and try and make contact with you immediately or at least head in your general direction.

Continue the zigzag and walking away process each time you enter the woods with your kurzhaar until the dog believes that it must stay within a reasonable distance in order not to loose you. Every once in a while hide from the dog and let it find you. If you don't believe that will work, think about how you feel when you're hunting and you suddenly realize you'ven't seen your kurzhaar for several minutes. Better yet, hide behind a tree and try and watch your kurzhaars reaction when it can't locate you. I think you'll become a believer. It's important not to over do the hiding because you don't want a dog that is scared to leave your side for fear of being lost. If the dog seems to be staying to close discontinue the hiding.

Occasionally you may need to call the dog back and use a combination of the tactics above to keep reeling the dog in. It's also a good idea to mix in a live game bird, or better yet a pigeon or two during each training session.

Place the birds in a game bag and try and conceal them before you let the dog out of the kennel box to hunt. After a few minutes of the zigzag routine; when the dog is out of site and far from you; take a bird out and get ready to toss it out in front of the dog. When the dog checks in, toss the bird up so that the dog sees it but cant get to it. Don't use weak flying birds for this because you want the bird to fly out of site so the dog cant get to it .Pigeons work best for this training.

If you toss a couple of birds in front of the dog each Buschieren training session, the dog will quickly learn that the game is usually in the area where you're hunting and will likely stay a little closer and keep better track of your location by checking in more regularly.

Checking in with you, changing direction when you do and hunting methodically are extremely important attributes of a good hunting dog. The combination of those three things is commonly referred to as "cooperation". I know from personal experience that you can unwittingly train a dog to be uncooperative and make it a self hunter. You can also avoid doing that by setting the stage for cooperation when the dog is a puppy. Some of what I have described above is identical to the way I approach cooperation training in a young puppy.

Hopefully by now your Deutsch kurzhaar excels at searching in dense cover and is cooperative. If nothing else you can use some of what I've described above to evaluate your kurzhaar's behavior in a dense cover hunting situation. The adjustments that a dog makes to the type of cover it's hunting in is primarily a function of the dog wanting to stay in contact. The cooperative dog is simply adjusting the distance to you based on it's ability to see you and it's desire to hunt with the pac.

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Forest Work Hunting Applications:


Work in the Forest includes: Blood Tracking, Retrieving of a Fox over an Obstacle, Furred Game Drags in the Forest, Independent Search in the Forest and Search in Dense Cover.

Each of the subjects listed under Forest Work have practical hunting applications thus are necessary to complete the training of a versatile hunting dog. For perspective, I think it's important that I list some examples of how each of these skills can be used while hunting in the forest.

Blood Tracking
It's simply stating the obvious to say that any big game hunter can make good use of a dog that can track wounded game. Over the years I've lost several deer and wild hogs that could have been meat in the freezer if I would have had a well trained blood tracking dog. For me, there are few worse feelings then to know that I've mortally wounded an animal but left it in the woods because I could not locate it.

Retrieving of Game over an Obstacle

Regardless of where you hunt you probably have some obstacles that are hard to get across. If your Deutsch kurzhaar will not retrieve game from the other side of a deep gully, creek embankment, the other side of a fence or jump a dead fall then you may have to leave game behind or risk injury to get it. A dog that will cross an obstacle to retrieve game can not only prevent the waste of edible game; by doing that tuff job for you it also decreases the risk of injury to you while hunting.

Independent Search in Dense Cover (Stobern)
There are many types of game available to hunt in the forest. For me the types that come to mind when I think of the Stobern are squirrel and rabbit hunting. I occasionally enjoy a good day squirrel hunting and or rabbit hunting and there's nothing more fun than using a good dog to help.
Over the years I've lost many a dead squirrels and rabbit that have fallen into or escaped to an area I couldn't get to. I've lost even more because I just plain couldn't find them when I got to where I thought they would be. I certainly could have used a dog capable of searching alone out in front of me with the intent to find and retrieve what I could never find on my own. I'm sure that there's some type of hunting that you do in the Forest where that skill could be useful.

Search in Dense Cover (Buschieren)
Most of the quail hunting that I do is done in the forest. In the southeast very little bird hunting actually takes place in open areas. If you're a foot hunter it's a must that your kurzhaar maintains contact with you and is fully cooperative in situations where the cover is fairly thick. That's also true when hunting pheasants in the Kansas CRP or grouse in New York State.

A dog that won't hunt with you is of little value regardless of the cover or terrain. On the other hand a dog that is part of the team can bring you a lot of pleasure while hunting in the forest or even the thick sage and cactus of south Texas.

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Forest Work Summary:

The hunting situations I've described above are only a few of the possibilities where forest work training can come into play. For every region, country and hunting situation there's many, many more scenarios where the training would be useful.

It's important to understand that the German tests are based on true life hunting situations and should never be looked at as tests for the sake of testing. One should try and think about what type of real world situation each skill can by used for.
If you do that I think you'll have a much better understanding of what you're training for and It will probably make you a better hunter too.

When you're confident that your kurzhaar has the necessary training for the forest work you should make an effort to put yourself and the dog in real world hunting situations where the skills above are needed so you can see the advantages of the forest work skills first hand. Even if you don't normally do some types of hunting that are commensurate with those skills you'll get a better understanding of how training the dog to do them can be advantages to someone that does. Who knows, you may pick up some enjoyable hunting time that you didn't expect. There's no better training than experience.

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WATER WORK:

Work in the water included's: Independent search without the duck, gun shot soundness, blind retrieve , independent search with live duck and retrieving of the duck. All of the work with the exception of gun shot soundness is conducted in "densely vegetated water".

At this point the dog has probably been tested on all of the water work subjects listed above with the exception of the "Independent Search Without the Duck". That is so because the dog has likely already successfully completed a Solms or an HZP. However, since passing either of those test is not requisite to participating in a VGP, I will present the methods that I have used to train for the Solms and HZP below adding to the level of difficulty commensurate with what's expected at a VGP.

The requirements of the VGP water work subjects are identical to those of the two breed tests referenced above so that training is also applicable to the VGP. That said there are some significant differences. One major difference is that the dog is held to a higher standard since it is expected to be more mature, experienced, methodical and obedient in it's work.
Another important difference is that the test location, i.e. the water where the test will be conducted will be difficult enough to challenge the dog to succeed at a level of skill expected from a finished dog. That means it is likely that the water will be larger and more heavily vegetated than that which was used for the Solms or HZP tests and perhaps the training you did for either.

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1. Independent Search Without the Duck

Since, from the dog's point of view, there's little difference between the requirements of the three major subjects of the water work, the training is virtually identical. The strategy and variables are identical as well so none of those topics will be mentioned here. The training, strategy and variables related to this subject are reflected in those which apply to the blind retrieve subject described in section 2 below. The only real difference between the two subjects is that during the search without the duck, not withstanding ambient scent present from wild game, there will be no duck placed in the search area by the judges. Since the focus during the independent search without the duck subject of the test, from the judges viewpoint, is different than the other water work subjects that's described next.

The Test:
For the independent search without the duck, the dog will be given a maximum of ten minutes to conduct the search. You are expected to send your kurzhaar into the water to search using one command. You can direct your kurzhaar but over doing it will affect the scoring.

The judges will be evaluating the dogs affinity for water and the thoroughness of the search relative to the size of the water and the cover. A dog that methodically engages the entire search area and shows a strong will to find game will be giving a higher score. A dog that spends a significant amount of time running the bank or searching the same area will probably be given a lower score. A dog that does not enter the water will fail this subject.

If a dog encounters a live duck during this subject, the encounter will be evaluated and used to satisfy the subject requirements of the " Independent Search with the Live Duck".

You should send the dog into the water using exactly the same ritual and command that you use for any retrieve in the water. You may give your kurzhaar some guidance via hand signals or commands but that should not be over done. My advice is always to ask the judges how much leeway you'll be given and what the limits of your movement up and down the bank will be.

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2. Blind Retrieve

At this point I presume that your Deutsch kurzhaar has done a number of blind retrieves in several different locations, with varying cover. I am also presuming the dog is completely force broken, loves the water and will enter it immediately on a fetch command. The dog should be convinced that there is always game present in the water and should have developed a strong will to locate that game and retrieve it to hand. If that is not the case then you should go back and review all of the previous water work sections and the section on force breaking and train your kurzhaar accordingly.

As I mentioned in the section above on the "Independent Search without the Duck", the training you do to prepare for a VGP level blind retrieve will suffice for that subject provided the dog is taught to search large, densely vegetated bodies of water. That's most likely what the dog will encounter at the VGP. By "large body of water", I mean water that's at least 30 - 50 meters across. By "densely vegetated", I mean water with cover and vegetation similar to that seen in some of the photos in this section.

The Test:
At the test a dead duck (usually a mallard provided by the handler) will be placed on an opposite bank or perhaps and island that is at least 30 meters from the point where the dog will be sent to retrieve it. The duck will not be visible to the dog and will be laid in vegetation. You will bring your kurzhaar up to the edge of the water and the judge will tell you the approximate location and direction of the duck. Be aware that the blind retrieve is a "MUST" do subject and you can handle your kurzhaar if you need to.

You will be allowed to throw stones or fire live ammo in the direction of the duck in order to get your kurzhaar to move toward that direction in order to catch the scent of the duck. Your score will drop for doing but again, this is a must do subject. You can also handle your kurzhaar, within limits, by moving up and or down the bank.

The Variables:
The variables of this subject include the size and shape of the body of water, any number of types of water vegetation and cover, water temperature and wind direction. They also include the quality of the duck that you provide for the test and it's placement. In my opinion a quality duck is one that's been dispatched a day or two before the test, placed in a plastic bag and kept unfrozen in a cool place. There's always the possibility that wild ducks or other game frequent the search area. The latter is impossible to predict but if you dog is thoroughly force broken and understands it's job then ambient scent or game should not be a problem.

In any case you can't control the variables you'll encounter at a given test so you must train for those you can train for in advance. Specifically, you must train the dog to perform in all types of conditions. You should vary the size, shape, type of vegetation, placement of the duck and so on. Always be positive you know the wind direction and it's likely affect on scent.

Many good dogs have failed water work subjects because they became spooked by thick vegetation, such a lilly pad stems or submerged timber. Some dogs literally become panic stricken at the touch of a lily pad stem or other unseen, submerged structure.

Also, make sure your kurzhaar will enter water of varying temperatures. Many dogs have failed tests because they would not enter cold water. If your from the south and the test will be in the north then plan to do some training in the winter months. I often practice in rainy conditions or even snow when I have the chance. If the dog has a problem working in the rain and that's what you encounter at a test then it may become problematic. Make sure you train in as many different temperatures and weather conditions as possible; even the conditions that you yourself don't care for.

Those are most of the obvious variables that you may encounter; but there may be more subtle possibilities thus always be on your toes and aware of existing conditions.

Will your dog search in water that is densley vegetated?

The Strategy:
In order to pass the VGP you dog must find and retrieve the duck; so do what you have to do to make that happen. Don't be afraid to use the stones or fire a shot or two if it becomes necessary.

If you take your time, evaluate the wind conditions and your kurzhaar will take a straight line in the direction that you send it, it is likely that you wont have to give the dog much help. That said, be sure that you carry a few throwing size stones or you shotgun with you because the judges will provide neither.

The handler is required to provide the game, i.e. the dead mallard for the blind retrieve. The duck should be freshly killed if possible; the fresher the duck is, the higher it will float in the water since the feathers will not have lost all of their oil yet. A duck that has been used for several training sessions, thawed and refrozen will put your dog at a disadvantage.

My personal preference is to confine the ducks I will bring to the test in tight quarters for two or three days prior to the test, then dispatch them and put them in a plastic bag the night before. That will allow some gases to form inside the duck to give it more buoyancy and the scent will be concentrated inside the bag.

If your not first in the running order, you'll have the good fortune of being able to observe what dogs preceding your's do. By all means make an effort ot make mental notes from watching their performance. What you glean from those observations can help you develop the appropriate strategy.

Definitely evaluate the wind direction. Remember, it may not be to your advantage to send the dog in a straight line toward the duck. If there is a chance that the dog will swim to a point upwind of the duck and miss the scent altogether, then it is better to send the dog in a direction toward the down wind side.

As with all subjects, be sure to ask the judges what they will allow as far as movement up and down the bank. Within limits, you'll be allowed to move up and down the bank to handle your kurzhaar. If you have questions regarding what will be allowed do not hesitate to ask the judges. The time to ask questions is before you send your kurzhaar because it's important that you maintain eye contact with the dog while it's searching. If you need to ask a question while your kurzhaar is searching for the duck, don't hesitate to do it but remain facing the dog while you do that.

At this stage your Deutsch kurzhaar should be trained to sit and stay in position until you give the fetch command but if you think the dog may jump the gun; then do not take the dog off lead until you are ready to send it. Some sort of quick release collar works best for water releasing your kurzhaar into the water.

While the dog is searching for the duck, take a couple of seconds to prepare a nice spot for the dog to sit in front of you when it returns with the duck. If you have to trample down some vegetation or move a few feet to a clear spot on the bank do it. Dogs like a nice clear spot to sit so if you don't do that, the dog may not sit. That may affect the dogs manner of retrieve score. Remember not to crowd your kurzhaar at the bank. When the dog approaches the bank, keep eye contact with the dog while taking a few steps backward to the area that you've prepared for it to sit.

The Training:

Hopefully your Fall test experience and the training that proceeded that test brought your kurzhaar to the level that it needs to be at for the VGP water work. Even if it did, it probably would not hurt to got back and read the water work sections of the Solms/HZP training section. I say that because it's possible that you've missed something there that may apply here.

Not withstanding a couple of new commands that you may want to add to your kurzhaars skills, the training for the blind retrieve and all of the major water work subjects is primarily accomplished exposing the dog to new water experiences. A gradual increase in retrieving distance, exposure to thick vegetation, poor weather and temperature variations are a few things that you dog should have encountered before a VGP.

Except for teaching and trying out new commands, you should refrain from training in the same old places now. Your main focus should be to expose the dog to as many different bodies of water as possible.

If your Deutsch kurzhaar has already been taught the skills I will mention below that's great! Then you can move forward without pause. If not then you should at least consider teaching the dog to take the few simple directional commands discussed here. Those basic commands can be invaluable in hunting situations not to mention on test day.

If you own a Kurzhaar or a Drahthaar no doubt your kurzhaar has the scenting ability to find ducks on the water with little or no help from you. Even so, there are times when it may benefit the dog to have some guidance. If your kurzhaar has the training necessary to enable you to give it a little help from the bank, blind or boat that will benefit you both.

It's a fact that most VGP candidates have not been taught to take directional signals from the handler or to follow a command to go "back" and search again at a further distance. Since that's the case I will describe a couple of training methods and commands you may want to incorporate into your water training regement.

Even though some directional commands can prove helpful, keep in mind that in the German versatile hunting dog system the dogs use of nose to locate game, including ducks on the water, is given much consideration. Although some guidance may be needed, over handling the dog from the bank will likely be frowned upon by test judges. Learn to handle your dog from the bank only when necessary. In most cased the dog will work things out on it's own if it's been thoroghly force broken to retrieve and stays in the water.

When using directional commands for water work, it should not be your intention to pin point the location of the game for the dog with commands and signals. If you do that during a test it will be frowned upon at the least and the dog's score will suffer for it. If you continually give direction to your kurzhaar during water work training and hunting you run the risk of creating a hunting companion that can't operate independently. Unlike training of Labs and other Retrieving breeds, teaching a versatile dog to go back, turn left and turn right is done for the purpose of getting the dog in the scent. Once the dog has scent it will need no guidance from you and you should give it none nor should you need to.

Let's start with the "back" command. Like all water work training, teaching your kurzhaar to turn around and go deeper into the search area begins on land. Though the training is fairly straight forward, you'll want to have maximum control of the training situation. That simply can not be accomplished if you try and begin this training in the water.

Decide in advance what type of hand signal you'll give in tandem with the back command to send your kurzhaar back into the search area. I've seen many people raise one hand above there head moving it as if pushing for the back command, but I prefer to extend both arms out perpendicular with my palms facing the dog. I prefer that because I use an overhead hand gesture to signal my dog to lay down and I don't what the dog to become confused. It's also doubtful that a dog can see the pushing motion from any distance. A side to side motion would be much more visible.

Now that you've established what hand signal you'll use, you can begin. In order to teach the dog to understand what back means and also associate that command with the fetch command you should go back to the force breaking line. If you don't have one, you need to set one up for this because you want the dog to turn around and go straight backwards and retrieve.

As you did during force breaking, set out several dummies or game animals in a pile about 10 feet down the line. Hook the dog to the line but instead of heeling it at your side sit the dog down directly in front of where you're standing facing you.

At first just give your kurzhaar your normal command you use for fetch. Since the dog is sitting directly in front and facing you the difference in position may confuse the dog. No problem, just grab the dog by the collar, turn it toward the dummies and give the command again. After a couple of sessions the dog will quickly learn that not it must turn around to head towards the dummies. It's possible that you may have to use the ear pinch to reinforce that the dog must still fetch and retrieve the dummies but I doubt it.

When your confident the dog understands that it must turn around and fetch then begin a session with several fetch commands done in the same manner but occasionally mix in your new command and hand signal. Make sure that you have eye contact each time you send the dog so that the dog understands the hand signal.

If the dog seems confused the first time or two then simply grab the dog by the collar as you did before and give the fetch command. It won't be long before the dog understands that the two command are interchangeable. Now begin to try and eliminate the voice command. Over a few more sessions gradually give the back command until you can use it exclusively. If you haven't already, at this point you can begin increasing the distance that you put the dummies behind the dog. At first on the line, then off. Eventually you want to be able to send your kurzhaar back 50 meters or so to retrieve.

Now that we've establish the back command with it's associated hand signal we can begin teaching the dog to go left or right. Again, all of the initial training is done on the land in a controlled setting.

For teaching left and right we will go back to the line again but allow the dog some freedom by attaching a much longer lead to the line. A 5-10 meter lead should be plenty. Set a pile of dummies about 5 meters out at a 90 degree angle.

Place the dog at the starting point, in the sitting positron facing you. With the same tone you've used to give the fetch and the back command, command "Right" while extending your arm out to the right side of your body as if signaling a right turn.

It's likely that the dog will turn and go straight back since that's what you've trained it to do in this when training for the "back" command.. If it does, give it a firm "No", grab it by the collar and lead it to the pile of dummies. If it happens go correctly and retrieve the object, then praise the dog heavily. Make sure the dog is in eye contact with you and make sure you give the hand signal each time. After a few sessions your kurzhaar will probably be doing this with ease.

Up to this point you've not given the dog any opposing commands, i.e. a "Left" then a "Right". Until the dog has learned both the left and right command you should not do that. It's much easier for the dog to learn one thing at a time.

When your confident that the dog understands the command to go right you can begin training the dog to go left. To do so, place the dummy pile at the same distance out and the same angle, but to the left. Start your kurzhaar facing you but this time give the dog a "Left" command and extend your left arm out. You should anticipate that the dog will go to the right or even back and be ready to correct it. Of course if it happens to go left, give it praise. After several sessions the dog will catch on.

When your sure the dog understands both commands and has had enough repetition you can start giving opposing commands. In other words place to piles out, one left and one right, then begin to alternate commands. If you find that the dog is anticipating the command to go in either direction don't give that command on the next run and take the opportunity to correct the dog.

Over time you should be able to set out 3 dummy piles,i.e. one for left, one for right and one for back. It requires a lot of brain power for a dog to obey opposing commands so you should start with two piles and make sure the dog is confident before adding the third command. You will also want to increase the distance and even the angle as time goes on. In any case be sure your kurzhaar will obey the commands out to 50 meters or so before moving to the water.

If and only if you are positive your Deutsch kurzhaar will obey the directional commands then you can go to the water. I recommend that you start in water that is fairly free of vegetation at first until the dog gain confidence. I also recommend that hold your training sessions on days when a strong breeze will not carry your game or dummies to far from where you place them.

If you have water that is deep enough for the dog to swim in but shallow enough for you to walk in, it's to your advantage to start your training there. Be sure to wear your swimming trunks and a pair of wading shoes. Leave your watch, wallet, cell phone and keys back at your vehicle because you may have to go into the water to correct the dog. If you have a helper to place dummies in the water for you while you keep your kurzhaar out of sight that will speed up the training sessions.

In the first few sessions have your helper place the dummies or ducks the same way that you did on the land. There's no need to make it to hard on the dog by putting them on the far bank yet but that should be your goal. 15-20 meter is plenty for the first few sessions.

Do not place the object at the same location continually or you may end up training your kurzhaar to search at a specific distance and no more than that. Once your kurzhaar is performing well at one distance gradually move further out and away. At this point you should quit using dummies and go to dead ducks exclusively. Water with enough vegetation to hide ducks is best now. You should also make sure the ducks are not easily visible to the dog.

The objective is for the dog to find the duck by using it's nose and to learn that your occasional directional command can help it get into the scent necessary to do that. If you continually place dummies or game in plain site, the dog may become more sight oriented. A dog that will only search for what it can see will likely end up swimming in circles looking for something to retrieve. If you must use dummies, I recommend the canvas covered type. That type holds plenty of scent. Even so, you should put plenty of liquid duck scent on them and make sure you hide them well.

Progressively move the ducks across the pond until your kurzhaar will go the full distance and take commands from any distance if necessary. When your sure that your kurzhaar has mastered the commands you should use them occasionally during normal water work training sessions. I recommend that you don't over do the use of directional commands. In fact, I would hesitate to give one at all; unless you're positive that the dog has no chance of locating the duck on it's own. If at all possible let your kurzhaar do the entire search by itself with nothing but a fetch command. A dog that will do that is a more valuable hunting partner than one that must be given constant direction.

If you've trained your Deutsch kurzhaar to perform the skills above and the dog is one that has shown that it's cooperative, if it needs you, it may look to you during a search for direction. For that reason it's important to remain facing your kurzhaar when it's searching in the water. In addition, be careful when your talking to others while your kurzhaar is searching. If you're like me and use your hands to express yourself during conversations, you may be inadvertently giving your kurzhaar a directional command that you did not intend to.

If you've exposed your kurzhaar to all of the variables that I mentioned in the paragraphs on that topic with success; have taught the dog to take the few directional commands above and studied the "shoulds" and "musts" of the VGPO rule book, there's a very good chance that you and your kurzhaar are prepared for completing the water work subjects of the VGP succesfully.

Some dogs dislike swimming in lily pads because the stems touch their legs and feet.VGP level water can be as densley vegetated as this

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3. Gun Shot Soundness

During the VGP test there will be a number of shots fired by the judges throughout the test and several by the handler. That does not include the shot fired during the "Gun Shot Sensitivity" subject nor does it include any shots the handler may choose to fire during the water work. If your kurzhaar displays gun sensitivity it will simply not make it thru the VGP. If your kurzhaar is currently displaying gun shyness behavior of any level you should probably reconsider scheduling to test until that behavior has been abated.

Some ways to introduce a dog to the gun in order to get it used to gun fire are discussed at several locations within early training sections including' but not limited to, training for the "Derby/VJP" and introducing a puppy to game. It would be redundant to describe those methods again, especially at this level.

Gun sensitivity behavior is evaluated at both the spring and fall tests and dogs that exhibit extreme sensitivity are weeded out and excluded from further testing and breeding. That's because a dog that is gun shy is of little use for the purpose of hunting and hunting is the point of training and breeding in the German system.

If you've made it this far with respect to testing in the German system, and your kurzhaar is gun shy; it's gun shyness is likely due to something it's been exposed to in resent months. If for some reason the dog has become sensitive to gunfire, my first recommendation is that you take the dog to a Veterinarian to have it's ears examined. If you find that the problem is not health related then my suggestion is that you go back to the beginning steps of introducing the gun.

Before doing that, take an objective inventory of your training and hunting activities over the last several months and determine if either may have helped create the behavior. If you think you've had a hand in creating the behavior make the necessary corrections and avoid, at all cost repeating the mistakes you've made.. In any case, you'll have to go back and reintroduce the gun to the dog as you did when it was a puppy.

A slow progressive reintroduction will help rebuild the dogs confidence. Begin with very light cap loads introduced ONLY when the dog is doing something it enjoys like chasing birds or game. Start out with one shot from a cap gun daily if necessary. Praise the dog, sooth it and try to build up confidence. If the dog is the least bit sensitive to the shots fired during a given training session; slow the training down to just a couple of sessions a week with very light loads. Remember you must re associate the sound of gunfire with pleasure in the dogs mind. Most importantly you must do it gingerly so not to make the problem worse.

If the dog continues to be gun sensitive no matter how slowly you try to recondition it to gun fire, and you intend to use it for hunting, you may want to find a good home for the dog where hunting will not be the focus. Before doing that it is advisable to consult with a professional dog trainer that has specific, documented experience, with correcting gun sensitivity problems. Have the professional trainer evaluate the dog's behavior and base your decision regarding keeping the dog on the Professional Trainers recommendations.

The Test:

Along with exposure to gunfire during other subjects of the VGP, your kurzhaar will be evaluated for sensitivity to gunfire while in the process of retrieving a dispatched duck. Gun sensitivity evaluation in the water is conducted prior to the blind retrieve and search behind the live duck in order to insure no game will be left in the search area because the dogs performance could not withstand gun fire.

At the test, you'll be asked to bring the dog to the waters edge. A dispatched duck will be thrown several meters out into the water, usually from either side of the dog. In any case the dog will be allowed to see the duck in the air and it's impact on the water. Upon the judges signal, you'll release the dog with a fetch command; sending it to retrieve the duck. After the dog is swimming away from the bank towards the thrown duck, one live load from a shotgun will be fired in the direction of the duck.

The dog will be allowed one (1) minute to enter the water and retrieve the duck. The dog MUST enter the water within the allotted time or it fails the test. The dog MUST complete the retrieving task. If it fails to do either, it fails the test and will not be allowed to continue.

Strategy:

The strategy for this subject is straight forward and it follows that dogs which perform this like clock work are given higher standing by the judges.

For the best possible showing you should heel the dog by your side to the waters edge, putting the dog in the sitting position next to you. Take a minute to look for a spot that is smooth and clear of vegetation for the dog to sit when it returns with the duck. Since you shouldn't crowd the dog at the bank try to find a spot that's directly behind you.

If your absolutely positive that your kurzhaar will not jump the gun and enter the water when the duck is thrown or when the duck makes impact with the water, then remove the dogs collar and wait for the judge's signal to release the dog.

When the judge gives the signal, send the dog with a single fetch command and say nothing at all after that. When the dog is on the way back with the duck you may praise it if you like, but if you're confident then there's no need. Instead give the dog a small treat after the subject.

As with all water work, don't crowd the dog at the bank. Take a few step backwards while the dog is making it's approach, ending up at the spot you prepared for the dog to sit. You can also ask that the judges, or any spectators move back a little if you're concerned that they may be crowding the dog but do that in advance.

A soft sit command is allowed, but if you don't have to give it then don't. If you anticipate that the dog is not going to sit, do not give it a command to do so. In any case, if you anticipate the dog may drop the duck, take the duck immediately from the dog to avoid that. Ideally the dog should come straight from the water, sit down directly in front of you and hold the duck until you give it the command to release the game.

The Training:

Frankly, if the dog will not perform the gun sensitivity test flawlessly by now then the handler has failed somewhere along the line. If the dog is having problems doing this at this level then it will likely exhibit other deficiencies during the test as well. Those deficiencies will probably become apparent during the VGP.

To be sure the dog is performing this task well, it will not hurt to train for it at least once or twice during each water work training session. The training is really a "no brainer" since you must simply mirror what will happen during the test.

That said, it's a good idea to have help training for this because the judges will be involved during the test. For that reason, the dog should be exposed to someone beside yourself tossing the game and firing the shot.

Have your helper throw the duck for you while you handle your kurzhaar. It's a good idea to mix it up a little by throwing the duck from a different direction each time. For example once from behind the dog, then once from either side.

Take the time to practice your responsibilities too. For example by clearing a sitting spot, not crowding the dog etc. I firmly believe that most handler nervousness during a test can be credited to the handler not being sure of their own role, as much as it may be to the handlers concern for the dog's performance.

There's no need to do much repetition. Once per water work training session is plenty. The training is really more of a refresher than anything else. If you over do it the dog may become bored with the retrieving effort and start developing sloppy habits or seem apathetic about it.

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4. Independent Search With Live Duck

As with all components of the water work section your dog by now has followed the scent of numerous live ducks. Hopefully the dog has either pined the duck or you've been able to shoot them infront of it. In either case the dog should return to you with the duck.

If your dog has performed perfectly during those searches and the work was conducted at several location in an array of cover types, you'll likely have no trouble with the independent search behind the live duck.Like all of the other test sections that require the dog to retrieve game to hand, I am presuming the dog is completely force broken, loves the water and will enter it immediately on a fetch command.

Like any water retrieve the dog must be absolutely convinced that a duck or other game is there to find. If you've done your job it should have developed a strong will to locate that game and retrieve it to hand.

Searching behind the live duck is very likely how you started your water work training. The desire the dog has developed to search for the duck during all of the water work portions of the test is largely permised on the dogs enjoyment of the chase and ultimate capture of its prey. Provided the dog has been trained to search large, densely vegetated bodies of water it will no doubt do well.

The Test:

At the test a live duck ( usually a mallard provided by the judges) will be tossed an arms throw into the water. The duck will be enouraged with shouting, stone throwing, BB shots, et cetera to swim away from the entry point towards cover. The dog will not be allowed to view this and you will not be summonsed to the bank until the judges have determined that the duck has entered cover.

When called, you will bring your kurzhaar up to the edge of the water and the judge will tell you the approximate location and direction that the duck swam. After giving the dog the fetch command it must enter the water to at least swimming depth. If the dog searches for the duck but does not produce it, the dogs search effort will still be evaluated and scored appropriately. If the dog catches the duck on its own or the duck is shot in front of the dog and the dog sees that then the dog "MUST" retrieve the duck in order to pass the test.

The dog is not required to produce the duck, but only to do a thourough search for it. You will not be allowed to throw stones or fire a shot in the direction of the duck during this part of the test. As with the blind retrieve and independent search without the duck, you can also handle your kurzhaar, within limits, by moving up and or down the bank.

The Variables:

There's no need to repeat the variables here since they are identical to that of the blind retrieve. The exception is that the duck is now live and there will be a scent trail for the dog to follow if the dog can locate it. The judges will likely make every effort to drive the duck out across the pond but in the end have no real control over the direction live duck chooses to swim or hide. Some ducks will simply swim to the nearest bank and climb out of the water.

Some extra wiley ducks will dive when your dog gets close only to reappear again some distance away from the dog. Others may submarine across the pond with only their head out of the water until out of site. I've seen pen raised mallards that have never laid eyes on water do both with uncanny stealth. Their instinct to escape is every bit as strong as your dogs instinct to chase. Regarding this portion of the test, it's been said many times that in order to get a high score you must have a high scoring duck. If your training at this level you probably understand that.

The Strategy:

The primary difference between the independent search behind the live duck and the blind retrieve is the introduction of a live duck. The other important difference is that their will be a scent trail for the dog to follow as opposed to picking up scent from a specific location. In many ways the independent search behind the live duck is similar to sending the dog to retrieve dragged game. In this case though the game is still moving and may have crossed it's own trail several times. For that reason it is imperative that the dog cross the ducks scent trail at some point during it's effort and preferably as soon as possible after entering the water. Obviously the quicker the dog finds the scent trail on the water, the fresher the scent will be making it easier for the dog to follow the trail with intensity. For that reason you should make every effort to be as close as allowable to the point of entry when the judges call you. Since the ducks scent is generally floating on the top of the water, wind direction and current are both very important to consider before sending your dog after the live duck. As with the blind retrieve it's best to ask the judges what distance you will be allowed to travel up and down the bank before releasing the dog into the water so you can gain the maximum advantage. The limits will also be important to know if it becomes necessary to give the dog directional signals during the seach. Since many dogs will steer clear of other dogs and people when retrieving game, make sure that the other dogs at the test are far enough away so not to have any affect. If their not, ask the judges to have the gallery move away. If necessary you may want the judges to step back as well.

It's been said many times that in order for a dog to recieve a high score for it's work behind the live duck, the duck must give a high scoring performance as well. If the dog is first in the running order it may have the advantage locating a single scent trail on the water. That may make the work much easier for the dog and for you. Having said that, a dog that appears to be working hard trying to find the freshest scent trail amoung several other possibilities will undoubtedly be graded as good or even better than the dog that hits the scent and goes right to the duck with ease.

If you expect the water to be very cold then it's best to get the dog out of it's box and let it acclimate to the ambient outside temperature. A dog that's just been removed from it's warm box may be apprehensive about entering a cold pond especially if the air temperature is cold too. On the other hand if the outside temperature is really warm the dog may welcome the cold water.

Remember, during the VGP, unlike the Solms or HZP, you can give the dog direction at any time during the retrieve. However, as with the those two tests the dog MUST retrieve the duck if it's shot and the dog comes into contact with it. Since under that circumstance the retrieve is a MUST do; you should be prepared to use every tool in you arsenal, inlcuding, but not limited to, throwing stones, firing a load of shot, yelling commands etc.

Once the dog has the duck in it's mouth praise it heavily with "good doggies". If you see any indication that the dog may not obey and return to you immediately, do what you have to do to get it's attention and get it back. Remember, unlike the Solms or HZP you can give your dog direction even when it's misbehaving during a retrieve. Better to take a lowe score in the test then fail completely.

When accepting the duck remember that in the VGP there's no requirement that the dog sit upon arrival to you with game. If it does so much the better, but not sitting should have no bearing on the retrieve or manner of retrieve score. If you've trained your dog to sit when it's presenting game, and your confident it will do so, then be sure to clear a nice smooth spot out for it to sit on when it returns by scuffing away any ruff materials. Many dogs will not sit in front of you if there are sticks, rocks or other cover under foot.

As with all water work, never crowd the dog at the shore or it may be discouraged from coming directly to you. It's OK to position yourself close to the shoreline and in fact you should be at a location that makes you as easy as possible for the dog to locate you. However once the dog is headed back with the duck and is four to five meters from you, begin to slowly step backwards up the bank keeping several feet between you and the dog. Once the dog nears the sitting space you've prepared for it, step forward to the dog quickly. If you'v done this before the dog will likely pick up on your forward movement and sit without a command. If you want to give a sit command you can do that, but again, sitting is not required.

If you've properly and completely force trained your dog to retrieve, manner of retrieve has been addressed, and the dog has a fair amount of prey drive, the live duck search will most likely be a breeze for the dog and you.


The Training:


The main focus of training for the VGP water work has more to do with the level of difficulty that the dog might encounter with respect to the density of the vegitation and the size of the body of water than with training the dog to search for and retrieve the duck. If the Solms went well for you and you've continued that training surely the dog understands what you expect of it. Since the level of difficulty will be the focus, all or most of the VGP water training should be conducted in water that poses difficulties to the dog commenserate with those it may encounter on test day. If you have access to the water that will be used take advantage of that. If not, ask those that have tested at the same location about the search water then make every effort to locate similar water conditions to train in.

But before you increase the level of difficulty there are a few behaviours you can and should teach the dog before test day. They are "back", "go left" and "go right". All three of those commands can be useful during a days hunt and at the test. When teaching them it's best to train the dog to respond to a verbal and visual signals at a minimum and you may even want to add analogous whistle signals, though that's not a necessity here.

Teaching "Back"
This training must begin on land so you have the ability to make corrections and discipline the dog when necessary.

Hopefully your dog will effectively search a pond on it's own and you will not have to use the back command at all. Even if your dog usually seaches independently with little inteference it's likel that there will be a time in it's hunting career that you wish you'd taught the behavior.

Since the dog must understand that "back" means to head away from you and usually that means you want the dog to head across the pond and seach the cover there, the training should include teaching the dog to follow the command when facing you and when facing away from you. I've watched many nervous and over excited handlers become beside themselves with frustration because they gave the back command while the dog was headed away from them only to have it turn around and come back toward them. Most of them thought the dog was being disobeient and didnt even consider that it was their own fault. The dog simply had not been taught to follow the command while facing away from them and behaved in accordance witht he way it was trained, i.e to turn around and head the other way. For that reason it's important to understand that "back" means head away from the handler, not just turn around and go in the opposite direction. Since that's the case the dog must be taught to head away from you regardless of it's position. Oncy it's headed away from you "go left" or "go right" directionals may be used if necessary.

It's important to keep in mind that an independent search without your help is the most desirable behavior and that it is not the objective to turn the dog into a "water trial" dog that can't function without it's master giving it direction. None the less, this simple behavior is worth teaching.

By now the dog obviously understands what fetch means, and also understands what sit/stay means.


Teaching "Direction" (Go Left and Go Right)

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5. Retrieving of the Duck

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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Here is an example of excellence in manner of retrieving the duck.
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Water Work Hunting Applications

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Water Work Summary

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FIELD WORK:

Field work includes: Use of Nose, Search, Pointing, Manners Behind Game Including Relocating, Retrieving of Feathered Game and Manner of Retrieving Feathered Game.
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1. Use of Nose

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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2. Search

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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3. Pointing

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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Use of nose, search and relocating ability will all be evaluated during pointing.
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4. Manners Behind Game Including Relocating


The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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5. Retrieve of Feathered Game


A. (1) Work on winged partridge (quail) or pheasant.OR (2) Feathered game drag.

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:



B. (1) Free searching for a freshly shot bird that the dog did not see fall. OR (2) Free searching for a placed bird.

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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6. Retrieving of Feathered Game (Manner of Retrieve)


The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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Field Work Hunting Applications

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Field Work Summary

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OBEDIENCE:

1. General Behavior (obedience):

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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2. Obedience During Drive Hunt:

Training your dog to stay at your side in the down position while shots are fired in the woods, people are moving thru the woods and noise distractions are being intentionally created, can be harder than you might think

If the dog is already obedient to the down command and exhibits a more "submissive" personality then the training may be easier. Many dogs have no problem with this but there are some that come completely unraveled when subjected to the kind of distraction that is characteristic of a drive hunt.

The down post ion is a submissive one for the dog, and for that reason, some dogs are reluctant to take it. Most can be trained to do it but there are some that will not completely submit regardless of your training efforts.

The Test:

At the test, you'll be asked to put your dog in the down position and stand next to it. The dog can be left on lead or off but a higher mark is given to a dog left off lead during this subject. All dogs and handlers present may be asked to spread out about 5-10 meters apart and to give there dog a command to stay down.

Each handler will be standing at the dogs side and both handlers and dogs will be facing the woods or thicket where the drive hunt will be simulated. There will be several people moving thru the woods and by their noise and voices the dog will definitely be aware that they are present.

There will be several shotgun shots fired by those in the woods simulating the hunt.The handler will also be required to fire off at least two shots during the hunt. A judge will give the handler a signal to fire for each of those two shots.

The dog SHOULD remain silent and calm during the test and MUST NOT whine, bark, pull on the leash or leave the hunters side. If the dog sits up, but remains in place and silent, it will not likely fail the test but will be given a lower score.

You wil be asked to place your dog in the down position facing the drive hunt area.

The Variables:

The variables for this subject are few and, not withstanding changes in weather, will primarily be man made. With respect to weather, if your dog doesn't like to lay down on the wet ground, or in snow, then you should make sure to train for the possibility of those conditions.

Of course the terrain may change and, depending on the time of the year, due to foliage or lack there of, the dog may be able to see into the woods or thicket. Seeing people moving thru the hunt area along with the noise they create may be more of a distraction for the dog than not seeing people. It might also be the other way around. Some dogs may be more comfortable seeing who, or what's, making the noise it hears, rather than thinking the noise is generated by something unknown.

In any case, you should train for both sets of conditions to evaluate the dogs reaction to each.
The number of judges and or people moving thru the woods or thicket, how much noise they make, the type of noise, the size of the shot loads, the level of their voices and so on, are all uncontrollable variables for this subject.

Other dogs that are present can also be variables. Especially they're dogs that normally play with yours occasionally or either dog has a bone to pick with the other.

Though most of the variable for this subject are out of your control, the ones that aren't should be considered. Based on your evaluation of your dogs performance while training you can plan a strategy for passing this subject at the test. Of course the best strategy is good training.

The Strategy:

If you've trained for this subject frequently enough, and with different conditions, then you probably know what to expect from the dog. I've often said, "obedience to the "down" command is at the top of my training list". Even a dog that doesn't respond consistently to the "come" command can be whistled down and picked up.

If you're confident that the dog will perform well, then you've little to be concerned about. If not, then there may be some things that you should consider prior to the test.

For example, will you leave the dogs lead on it or not? I have owned both dogs that would stay down without the lead and, at least one, that wouldn't stay down with a lead, without a lead, or under any other circumstances. The VGP is definitely not the test for the latter.

If you're not absolutely sure your dog will perform with excellence, you may wish to leave the lead attached to the dog. I think it's a good idea to leave the lead attached, but lay the lead over the dogs back. The score will still be less, since the lead is technically attached, but the dog will believe that it's still under restraint. Believing that, it will be less likely to move. Remember, it's a MUST that the dog stay in it's place. The dog may squirm silently, half sit, or even sit up, but if it leaves it's place, it fails.

Make sure that you think in advance where you wish to lay the dog down with respect to the position of the other handlers and their dogs. You don't want to lay the dog down as to make eye contact with another dog that it regularly plays with, or worse, another dog that it seems not to like or doesn't seem to get along with.

Before laying the dog down, check the location for sticks or briars, fire ants or anything else that might make the dog uncomfortable. If there is snow present, you may want to kick it away to make the dog more comfortable. Even wet grass can be matted down in advance by stepping on it.

When the judge signals you to fire a shot from your shotgun, you may want to take a couple of steps out in front of the dog, so the dog sees the gun. At this level the dog likely knows that a shot is coming when you raise the gun. Doing so may prevent the dog from being startled by a shot fired directly beside or behind it that it didn't expect.

The Training:


I presume by now, at a minimum, your dog will lay down and stay put when commanded to do so. If that's not the case, then go back to sections on basic obedience. Since there are several other subjects of the VGP when a down command is required, or may be necessary, it is important that the dog will obey the command.

Many handlers are surprised when their dog won't obey when first training during the simulation of a drive hunt. There are many normally obedient dogs that come apart when a shot is fired while their in the down position or when hearing strange voices, whoops and hollering in the woods. This is definitely a case when out of site does not mean out of mind. If unleashed, some dogs simply run towards the shot. If they are leashed they may struggle and pull.

The more disobedient ones will simply refuse to lay down with that much distraction. Indeed I've watched, and been personally involved in, many wrestling matches brought on by dogs that refused to submit to this training. I've personally had to go as far as laying on a dogs back to make it stay down. Even so, I believe it far better to start with a dog that disobeys a down command than a dog that barks, howls and whines when the noise begins. That behavior may be much harder to counter. If your dog exhibits that kind of behavior I recommend that you go to the section on training for the spring test and see the section on the DKV "Wiesen" test and my comments there.

Like many other subjects, training for obedience during the drive hunt requires help. The best way to train for the subject is to replicate the test as closely as possible. In order to do that several helpers and several handlers must be involved in the training. Since it's sometimes hard to get that many people together in one place, the training for this subject is usually not done as frequently as it should be. Whenever possible, make sure to take advantage of large groups on training days and replicated the drive hunt.

That said, there is training that you can do to leading up to the reenactment that will be beneficial. Some of it can be done in your own yard or even in wood lots near your home. If you have a place in your area where gun fire is allowed that's even better.

You can begin by placing your dog in the down position facing in a direction towards some distraction. Using your kids or your wife is good for this since the dog may look upon them as a playmate rather than the pack leader. If you have a rabbit or bird that you can cage or stake out in front of the dog that can also act as a good distraction.

With the leash in hand, lay the dog down beside you facing the distraction. For the first few sessions there's no need to fire any shots just make the dog remain down and still for 5 minutes. If the dog gets up for any reason, give firm down command and put the dog back in place. When the dog is down sooth it with light praise, but tolerate no movement! Try and anticipate the dog's movement so you can correct the dog before it reaches it's feet or a sitting position. If you believe the dog is going to get up give it a firm "no" and another "down" command. If necessary, place it back in positron while giving those commands..

Over time increase the distraction by asking your helpers to move around, scuff the ground, make noise, and so on. If you're using game try and give it enough freedom to walk around in front of the dog. Banging on pots and pans, whooping and yelling can eventually be added to the mix.

Next move to a wooded area where the helpers can walk thru the woods, but place the dog where it can see that it's people creating the noise and commotion.

When the dog will lay completely still during this distraction for five minutes, you can begin to introduce gun fire. It's best to start with a 209 primer pistol, having your helpers fire just a shot or two per session. Eventually you should work your way thru 4-10, 20 and finally a 12 gauge loads. If the dog moves from the down positron when any shot is fired, give it a firm "no" and lay the dog back down. Continue to sooth the dog with praise when it is performing correctly.

When the dog has accepted that it must obey, even with all the distractions in the woods, have your helpers move deeper into the woods so the dog can not see them from it's position, then repeat the process. Now the dog knows what's creating the racket and will be more likely to be obedient during the drive hunt.

Once your sure the dog will obey, even when your helper's have fired several 12 gauge shot loads in the woods where the dog can't see them, then you can begin firing a shot while standing at the dogs side.

Start with a primer pistol and work your way up to the 12 gauge. It's best to have someone else fire the shots when first starting this so your hands will be free to handle the dog. When the dog is performing well consistently, you can begin firing the shots your self. Start with one shot and, overtime increase to two shots. For safety reasons, make sure you never load more than one shot at a time into the gun your using since it's still possible that you may have to lay the gun down or hand it off to correct your dog.

Always keep in mind that the "down" position, for the dog, is a submissive one. Some dog's will submit easily; others will need more force and discipline to make them lay quietly. The dog thinks there's a party going on in the woods that it should have been invited to.

Though discipline is often required to make the dog comply, try and take every opportunity to sooth the dog and make the experience as pleasurable as possible. If the dog associates heavy discipline with the down position it's resistance to it may increase. Make every effort to calmly praise the dog and sooth it when it's performing well. In addition, you should refrain from giving treats for this training, since it may encourage the dog to sit or stand up.

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3. Heeling on Leash:

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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4. Heeling off Leash:

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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5. Down Stay:

You must train your dog to remain in place, in the down postion, so that you can stalk game alone. The dog should stay at the spot where you left it, while you walk out of sight. The dog must remain in place even when you fire a couple of shots from you gun.

The Test:

At the test you will be asked to heel your dog by yourside, off lead, to a location that the judges have chosen for this subject. You will asked to bring your shotgun and at least two rounds of ammo with you. Usually the location will be behind a deadfall or another structure that will obstruct the dogs view. You may leave an object such as a back pack adjacent to the dog if you like. You may also leave the lead attached to the dog, although your score will be affected if you leave the lead attached. After placing the dog, you will be directed to slowly walk away from the location as if stalking game


The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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6. Steadiness to Wing:

If you haven't read it already, now would be a good time to go back and review the "Whoa Training" topic in both the spring and fall test sections. In order to be successful here the dog should understand and obey the whoa command. It will also help you compare the differences between that training and training for steadiness to wing, shot and fall.

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Right Birds:

It would be gross negligence on my part if I failed to provide a lecture herein on the foulest of foul; AKA the pen raised quail. There are numerous reasons not to incorporate pen raised game birds during steadiness training. Though eventually you’ll have to introduce some, they should only be used in the very final stages of training and only after you have complete confidence that the dog will be obedient.

I can’t stress enough my dist ain for using pen raised quail while training. Pen raised birds usually tire easily after a flush. After one flight their worn out and rarely take flight again for some time. Their flight is usually short and they almost always land within the dog’s field of view.  In fact some barely even get off the ground or won’t leave it at all. All of that means they are easily caught by an over zealous, untrained dog.

Even though some are raised in flight conditioning pens, many are raised in over populated confinements which results in birds that are not healthy or are not well feathered. During spring and summer months birds may be molting and some quail suppliers are trying to sell off last years breeding stock to un weary buyers. Most breeding stock birds have not ever been caged in anything larger than a 10” x 16” breeding cage much less a flight conditioning pen.

With poor flying quail, a dog can easily see where the bird lands. Seeing the landing, the dog believes it may be able to get to the bird and catch it. That’s doubly true if the dog has caught birds before.

It won’t take many experiences chasing and catching birds before you've reinforced in your kurzhaar exactly the opposite of the desired behavior. If you put your kurzhaar in a situation where it has the opportunity to catch birds; you've defeated your own intentions.

 If you’re not in strategic control of every training session, the dog will quickly learn that when it jumps in it can catch a bird before it flushes. Thus the dog’s drive to chase will be fueled and enhanced by short flying, easily caught, pen raised birds. The more that the dog catches, the more it will continue to catch, and the more engrained that behavior will become.

If you've already used pen raised birds to train with, it’s likely that your kurzhaar has caught some. By now you may know that it doesn't’t matter if you release pen raised birds into the field, plant them individually or launch them in a launcher; the birds perform poorly. It’s likely that you’re aware that, check cord or no check cord, you’re not always in control of the situation.

 That’s why I recommend that you begin with pigeons and use them exclusively until the dog’s steadiness training is almost completed. Healthy pigeons are much stronger flyers than pen raised game birds and generally fly out of site when released. Unlike pen raised quail often do, pigeons don’t usually take off straight up over the launcher like quail may. They are easily placed and flushed manually and when launched in a bird launcher they don’t hover and usually take flight in the same direction they are facing in the launcher.

If you want to avoid some of the problems associated with pen raised birds, pigeons are a must I strongly suggest that you buy yourself some homing pigeons, trap some barn pigeons, steal some pigeons or make friends with someone that steals or raises them. I would use them exclusively during steadiness training until your positive the dog won’t jump in on, or chase birds.

The Training:

Before getting into the training methods of steadiness to wing, shot and fall, it’s important that the handler has an understanding of why they should follow each step and what dog behaviors and instincts need to be squelched when training for steadiness. You’ll also want to consider what instincts the dog possesses that must be enhanced. With those two thoughts in mind, consider the following three concepts:

  1. We clearly want to enhance the dog’s instinct to point feathered game with an emphasis on prolonging the duration of the point.
  2. We must overcome the dog’s prey drive and instinct to jump in and pounce on game.
  3. Finally, we must control the dog’s prey driven instinct to chase.

In order to create the desired affect the dog mustn't’t think that it can catch birds. It must believe that if it moves after sufficiently scenting the game bird, the bird will flush and be gone immediately. Just as importantly, it must learn that to move after sufficiently scenting the bird is to be disobedient.

Why must you train to overcome the dog’s instinct to jump in and pounce on the game? If the dog jumps in, the game will flush before you can get in shooting range or even worse; the dog will catch the game. Neither of those occurrences is the desirable scenario. The dog must learn that it is disobedient to jump in.

Why must you train the dog to stay put at the location of the flush whether a gun is fired or not? So if you miss the bird, the dog stays put when the bird you missed flies away. The dog shouldn't chase or move on until you command it. Any other scenario will mean that you’ll spend valuable hunting time trying to follow or collect your kurzhaar and reroute it.

Also, the dog must stay put when you shoot a bird and the bird falls to the ground. The dog shouldn’t leave the flush location until you give a hunt on command or the command to fetch. Many dogs have been injured or killed because they caught up to a bird at the same time a load of shot did.

Assumptions: 

You have access to homing pigeons.                                                    
The dog has not accidentally caught birds???

You’ll absolutely need a helper for this step. You’ll also need the check cord and pinch collar. Initially this step can and should be conducted in your back yard where there are no distractions then moved to the field.

The idea here is for your kurzhaar to stop and stay still when it hears the sound of flapping wings, i.e., the flush so the quieter the training location the better. You want the dog to hear the bird go to flight. You’ll not be giving any commands so zip it! The dog will simply hear the birds wings flap and watch it fly away. The flush will eventually become the dogs signal to stop.

The beauty of using pigeons for this is that they usually make a loud flutter when they take off and they also usually fly out of sight. The dog won’t get the idea that the bird went down close enough to chase and catch. Out of sight out of mind!

Have your helper load 6-10 of your homing pigeons into a large bird bag. If you don’t have a bird bag try to pull them from a cage or a box hidden in a location that the dog can’t see so that it’s not distracted by a cage full of fluttering birds during the training session.

With your Deutsch kurzhaar on a check cord and wearing a pinch collar, bring the dog into an open area of the yard.

Step back a few paces from your kurzhaar and with NO command or noise have your helper throw a pigeon toward your kurzhaar but out in front of it. When the dog lunges for the flying bird jerk it back with the check collar and put the dog back in exactly the spot it was before it lunged. Make sure that you plan strategically so that your kurzhaar won’t catch a bird. Repeat this step until you’re out of birds.

Be sure to take a few minutes or so between birds to give the dog a chance to think about what’s going on and to calm down a little. You should stroke the dog a little to help calm it.  It’s a good idea to fly the birds at the dog from several different directions just to break up the rhythm a little. 5-10 birds a session is plenty.

Be PREPARED and ANTICIPATE so that you DON’T let your kurzhaar catch a bird. Remember you want the dog to stop at the sound of the flush so the sound of the flush in essence means “Whoa”. Do not give a command at this point.

When you’re sure the dog is performing with consistent perfection, you should move to the field with this drill. Initially conducting the drill exactly as you were doing it in the yard. The dog should still be on a check cord and a pinch collar.

If the dog continues to performing with consistent perfection, you can begin to introduce planted pigeons or launched pigeons. No quail yet!

Since the dog has been thru steady to shot and fall training already; with a little help it should be able to connect the dots. When you’re comfortable that the dog understands the process then you can take the pinch collar off and go to a regular collar.

Now you should begin introducing the dog to multiple birds. You can do this by placing two or three birds under a kick cage or you can use how ever many your launcher/s or assistant can put in the air. The launching of several birds may unravel your kurzhaar a little but you’ll just follow the same process you have until the dog stays put when the birds flush.

When you’re comfortable that the dog is performing as desired you can begin to go to the more traditional method of steadiness training in order to proof what you've completed to this point.

With the Deutsch kurzhaar on a check cord let it work a field where you've planted birds or bird launchers. Be sure you know the location/s that the birds/launchers have been planted. Also make sure that you don’t bring your kurzhaar up on the birds or the launcher from a direction where it will scent or cross your foot track. If you are using manual launchers that have a pull string, make sure the dog addresses the birds from a direction that will not allow it to scent the pull string and follow it to the launcher.

If your strategy for placing birds is weak, the dog will quickly learn to follow your foot track to the bird instead of searching for the bird on its own. In any case, you should leave the birds sit for a while in the field which will help dilute your foot track scent.

Depending on where you’re training, you may be able to use a vehicle and set out launchers without stepping onto the ground. That seems to help!

After planting of the birds/launchers is complete, work the dog into the birds. When the dog points have your assistant hold the check cord then you walk in and flush the bird yourself and fire off a round.

You may need some correction here but if the previous steps have been correctly completed the dog should stay put when the bird flushes. If the dog isn’t performing perfectly you can correct it. It’s likely that it won’t take many more training sessions and some minor correction to achieve the desired affect.

When you’re satisfied that the dog is performing with consistent perfection you can begin rewarding it again by occasionally shooting a bird and giving the fetch command. Remember DON’T shoot every bird that flies off into the sunset or your kurzhaar will anticipate a retrieve after every shot and may fly off into the sunset too.

At this point can begin to mix in birds other than pigeons but I would do it gradually. Chukar, pheasants and quail are usually the most available.  If you have access to wild birds that’s even better. Make sure the dog has been introduced to each different species of bird during the force breaking process so that you’re sure of a complete retrieve during your steadiness work

When you’re ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that your kurzhaar is performing with CONSISTANT PERFECTION you can shorten the length of the check cord and eventually do away with it all together.

Some folks leave a small piece hanging from the dog’s collar so that the dog believes that it is under control.

The beauty of the training methods I’ve described above is they can be performed in reverse. That means if your kurzhaar is already steady to flush you can simply move to the steadiness to shot and fall drills. The advantage of going in the order that I’ve presented here is that the dog has already learned not to chase which will likely make getting the dog steady to wing/flush a little easier.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “How can I incorporate an e-collar into the mix?”

First off, NEVER use an e-collar on a puppy or a dog that’s near a bird or you can end up making your kurzhaar a blinker, ruining your kurzhaar’s desire to find birds, point them, retrieve them etc.

I’ve predominantly given up on the Unidentified Flying Discipline (UFD) because like it or not, the dog quickly becomes collar smart and you’ll become an E-collar Slave (ES).

The dog will have to wear the collar every time you go into the field; you’ll have to make sure the equipment is charged. A collar smart dog eventually learns that you have no control over it when the collar is off. That dog will most definitely learn to take advantage of that. In addition, you’ll probably become lazy and use the collar for discipline when a more hands on approach should be used. The dog should always be sure of who is applying correction so it understands who’s running the show.

If you correctly follow the methods outlined above you’ll not need to introduce an e-collar into your training regime. There is one exception when I use it during steadiness training. If your kurzhaar is already familiar with the e-collar you should forget I mentioned this since it’s likely the dog is already collar wise.

If the dog isn’t collar wise; during the steady to flush work in the field you could set up the following training scenario:

Release a pigeon in plain view of the dog but not so close that it can catch it.
If the dog begins to chase the bird intermittently press the transmitter button on and off multiple times giving the dog just enough stimulation each tap to make the chase uncomfortable for it. When the dog stops the chase instantly stop the stimulation. The discomfort will serve as reinforcement that chasing isn’t good and can be uncomfortable.

If not used carefully an e-collar and many of the other electronic training devices can have a detrimental affect on a dog. One device that comes to my mind immediately is the bird launcher. Bird launchers are very useful but can do harm to a dog if you’re careless.

For example you should never use a bird launcher around a young puppy.
Bird launchers have a fairly powerful spring action and have injured young puppies. In addition bird launchers make enough noise when the bird is launched to scare a young puppy when it sees the bird spring to flight. You definitely don’t want to make your pup afraid of flushing birds and/or turn it into a blinker and you certainly don’t want it to be injured.

Even with older dogs it’s not advisable to let them get closer than 3-4 feet from a launcher when launching a bird. If the dog has a well developed nose that shouldn’t be a problem since it will likely scent the bird at a greater distance.  It’s also best to wait until they have already flushed birds and have developed a strong interest in them before putting a bird launcher in your bag of tricks.

Hunting Applications:

Steadiness to wing, shot and fall is critical since a dog that chases, and believes it can catch birds, is disruptive to the hunt at a minimum. If there are numerous birds that flush in the same direction the chasing may continue for some time.

The dog will likely have to be gathered up and restarted continually during the hunt and will probably bump birds during each chasing episode. It’s also likely to continue to repeat what you’ve let it learn, i.e. “I can catch birds”.

Most importantly, the dog’s safety is in jeopardy if it chases birds. Over the years many dogs have been accidentally wounded or killed by gunners because the dog arrived at a bird in flight at the same time the hunter sent a load of bird shot in the that direction.

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7. Steadiness to Fur:

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


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8. Steadiness to Shot:

The Test:

The Variables:

The Strategy:

The Training:


The concepts you should consider when training for steadiness to shot and fall are by virtue the same three important concepts mentioned in the "Steadiness to Wing" training section above. The difference is that here the focus will be exclusively on concept number three which is controlling the dog's prey driven instinct to chase. Some of that training has already been accomplished if you've already completed the steady to wing training but it must be reinforced.

You should also go back and review the "Whoa" trainging topic in the spring and fall test sections to be sure you understand the differences between this training and whoa training.

Assumptions:    

T
he Deutsch kurzhaar is completely force broken.
The Deutsch kurzhaar is comfortable with close gunfire.

Equipment:

You’ll absolutely need a helper for this first step and if you have electronic bird launchers or a dummy launcher those will be helpful, but not absolutely necessary. You can accomplish the same thing with your helper and no electronics. You’ll also need a gun. A blank gun or small gauge shot gun. Those two are the most economical with respect to ammo. The kurzhaar should be on a check cord and wearing a pinch collar.

If you have access to some type of launcher, have your assistant operate it from a hidden position. If you’re doing it all manually by having your helper hide and throw dummies, be sure your helper is doing that from a location where the dog can’t see them. You are trying to simulate a real hunting situation. A ditch, gully or even a big bush are all good hiding spots.

The Training:

Stand with the dog about 20-30 yards from the point where the dummies will be launched/tossed so the dog will easily spot the airborne dummy in flight and falling. Bumpers with flags are good for this since they more closely simulate live birds thus more excitement for the dog.Make sure you give the dog enough slack on the cord to give it a good jerk but not enough so that it can build up enough speed that the pinch collar will cause injury to the dog.

Have your assistant launch a dummy and at the peak height of its flight, fire the gun. You should be focusing all of your attention on the dog. If the dog bolts or steps forward give it a good jerk on the check cord and give the dog a firm “Whoa”, then pick the dog up literally and put it back exactly where it was before it moved. If the dog stays in place praise it and begin the drill again.

Repeat the drill 10-20 times each training session until the dog catches on. You’re striving for CONSISTANT PERFECTION. That means the dog stays put when the dummy is launched, the shot is fired and the dummy hits the ground. When the dog does it perfectly you should occasionally reward the dog by giving it praise at first. Eventually you can reward the dog by letting it fetch and retrieve the dummy but ONLY after the dog performs PERFECTLY. After letting the dog fetch the dummy several times in a row for correct performances the dog will most likely begin to anticipate the fetch command and take off before it’s given.

You can use that bad behavior to your training advantage by correcting and scolding the dog heavily for it, then alternating the reward with no reward at all. Mix it up a little by just giving a pat on the back or a “good dog” instead of letting the dog fetch.

Try not to get into a steady rhythm allowing the time intervals between each step of training to be identical. In other words change the amount of time between the fall of the bird and giving the fetch command. Dog’s are quick to pick up on the timing between your commands and will begin to anticipate the command. In some instances that would be good such as anticipating a “whoa” command while pointing. That’s not the case for this step.

You could also incorporate a dummy launcher into this step by having your assistant shoot flagged bumpers from a hidden position behind you or off to one side. Flagged bumpers look more life like then regular bumpers.

If the dog has continued success you can slowly wean it off the pinch collar. If the dog reverts back to bad behavior go back to the pinch collar. When you’re comfortable that your Deutsch kurzhaar is performing perfectly and understands that it must not to leave until the fetch command is given,  then you can start using frozen or dead game instead of bumpers.

After your Deutsch kurzhaar is performing all of the above, including excellence after switching to frozen game, you can begin to introduce live game. You can introduce quail now, but I don’t recommend poor flying pen raised quail because they usually drop short and you’ll only end up peppering the training area with birds that are easy to catch. If you have access to some very good flying birds then by all means use them now. If not, try and obtain some barn pigeons that you don’t mind shooting.

You don’t want to let the dog catch live birds on the ground unless you’ve given it a command to fetch. Other than that, you must avoid it at all costs. If you let the dog catch birds you are defeating your intentions since it will serve to fuel and enhance its instinct to jump in, pounce and chase.

At this point you can begin to occasionally shoot a released bird and if the dog performs perfectly and consistently, give it the fetch command. If not go back a step or two. Don’t shoot every bird you release or the dog may begin anticipating the fall and jump the gun. Continue to be mindful that the dog doesn’t get the idea that it will be sent to fetch every time a bird flies or it may anticipate that and bolt when it sees the bird fly or after the shot is fired.
Just as described in previous steps, don’t send the dog to fetch on every fall. Over time you can move the dog increasingly closer to the toss/launch location.

Conclusion:

At the beginning of the section on "Steadiness to Wing" I listed three concepts that need to be understood and focused on during the steadiness training process. Since they are all really related and just a relevant to "Steadiness to Shot and Fall" training it's important that you read them again and make sure that you understand them. To do so, Click Here!

  1. We clearly want to enhance the dog’s instinct to point feathered game with an emphasis on prolonging the duration of the point.
  2. We must overcome the dog’s prey drive and instinct to jump in and pounce on game.
  3. Finally, we must control the dog’s prey driven instinct to chase.

Hopefully you’ll keep the three concepts above in mind when training for steadiness to wing, shot and fall. I also hope you've found at least some of what’s written here useful. I believe if you follow each step to completion you’ll be pleased with the final result.

Hunting Applications:

Steadiness to wing, shot and fall is critical since a dog that chases, and believes it can catch birds, is disruptive to the hunt at a minimum. If there are numerous birds that flush in the same direction the chasing may continue for some time.

The dog will likely have to be gathered up and restarted continually during the hunt and will probably bump birds during each chasing episode. It’s also likely to continue to repeat what you’ve let it learn, i.e. “I can catch birds”.

Most importantly, the dog’s safety is in jeopardy if it chases birds. Over the years many dogs have been accidentally wounded or killed by gunners because the dog arrived at a bird in flight at the same time the hunter sent a load of bird shot in the that direction.

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Obedience Hunting Applications:

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Obedience Summary

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VGP TRAINING SUMMARY:

VGP Summary

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Untitled Document
Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland

Gary Fleming
vectortfl@outlook.com