Cassie's Gundog training log

Last week Cassie and I had a 1.2.1 gundog training lesson, the first session we've done since August when the GGS lessons finished. It's funny but for some reason I don't feel as driven about it as I did, I was so keen that Cassie would learn to use her ability, to get some satisfaction in her life, in the beginning. Passing the Grade 2 feels like a big deal, mainly because at one time I was having trouble getting her to retrieve at all and easily seen marked retrieves were as difficult as anything. I'm not phased by the Grade 3 requirements, with training and consistency she can do it all. (Except for the swim, but that's another story).
But overall, I wonder how much more I want/need to do with her, I don't want to be worrying about the short comings in my training but just enjoy her for the dog she has become. I didn't understand in the beginning that hunting and searching is far more enjoyable to her than retrieving, I thought all Labradors were keen retrievers and I thought I'd done something wrong somewhere. But I can see now that I didn't and just needed to train the dog I have. Day to day, she's great and is such fun with her character and little quirks, like they all are, and I do believe she is contented.

But anyway, we had our lesson, working on improving delivery to hand and discussing many things, the hour very quickly went by! So we have plenty of homework. Next time we will work on hunting, which I want to do.

One thing we discussed is her frustration levels which at times in a group session burst out through Cassie's head resulting in demented kangaroo type behaviour. (Reminiscent of teenage tantrums). SWMBO seemed to be choosing her words carefully ..... " her natural ability (Cassie's) outweighs her understanding of what she is required to do in the circumstances" ....... hmmmm I've been thinking about that, is she trying to say
my little girl has a rubbish handler??!! :rofl: I shall have to ask her next time!!
@Selina27 This is just how I was with Sams gundog training , worrying about him getting it right . Then I stopped and asked myself why was I carrying on , for myself or for him ? I decided that I didnt give a jot about the finer points as I was never going to actually work him and that whilst the purists would have an attack of the vapors at his efforts , he was happy and driven, in his own way ! Cassie has come a long way, you carry on if you feel that it will be beneficial for you both, but dont lose any sleep over it either xxx
I was interested to read this @Selina27 on several accounts. I think you should do what you want to do and follow your gut feeling. If you just want to enjoy her for the dog she has become - well what could be better? Do it. Just enjoy her.

Recently Red has taken very much second place. I have done minimal training with her. I have just started to think - should I be now looking for structured training/gun dog training/any training from a dog trainer? I am really not sure and have decided to just leave things for the time being. The only thing I do which takes 10 minutes max per day is do something giving her her tea so she is feed from my hand. At the moment I have just been doing sit/stay and come either by calling her or using the whistle and using hand signals as. Very simplistic but all very effective. At almost 3, (despite the loss of Sky), she seems content and is a great companion.

I admire people who train and work their dogs and who knows what we may get up to in the future but for now I am just happy with the dog I have
Absolutely understand what you're feeling here @Selina27, replies from @kateincornwall and @Atemas that I totally agree with.

I'm still going to persist with Molly's classes. Though she is a long way behind what Cassie has achieved, so effectively we are still doing basics, her obvious enjoyment is irresistible. I've been assured that we are going to get to retrieving but like Cassie, Molly also finds much delight in hunting which was what I was actually doing with her, without realising it before we went to classes ( I know, thicko |() . It was our wonderful trainer who explained to me what I was getting Molls to do was hunting and the fact that she bought what she'd hunted down back to me was a by-the-way.

I enjoy reading about your training sessions, so, if you continue I hope there will be further instalments to read :nod:
Yes, as the others say, just do what makes you and Cassie happy. I enjoyed training classes, but am not ambitious, so did it more for fun for Rourke and for me. I won a few simple things and Rourke would have gone further if he had had an owner who wanted that! Now that we cannot train, I find Rourke gets just as much satisfaction hunting for a tennis ball. He does his own retrieving, puts the ball down, runs to me who is walking away, unaware of what he is doing, suddenly find he has run round me and is sitting in front of me with the expression "go on, send me back to get the tennis ball' which I do and this game goes on up the lane until we get home :)
@kateincornwall ,@Atemas, @FayRose , @Joy, @Jelinga , thanks for all your replies. It's very much the case that I just want to enjoy her and I do. I will carry on with the gundog training, the exercises for improving her hold and delivery can be done in the house on winter evenings which is ideal for those restless times on busy days when maybe she hasn't had as much outside exercise as she would like. L would like to learn more about "hunting retriever " work, stopping on the point of flush is but a dream at present.

I guess it's just that I feel less intense about it, now that I can see she is a happy dog, and given how much I love her.

She absolutely loves "search "retrieves" as advised by @Jelinga or @Beanwood or maybe both, I have a small snipe dummy that I rub a pheasant scent stick on and send her out into the garden, I'd like to do more of those with her. It's all a question of interacting with when we are out and about, which is such fun.

like Cassie, Molly also finds much delight in hunting
Kindred spirits indeed!

I enjoy reading about your training too, have you been recently?

Sonia, good to read that Rourke is happy, and finding his own amusements :)
Yes, just do what you want to do! I do less gundog work now because I find all the walking throwing dummies about really time-consuming and I want to be spending that time with my dogs, not just asking them to be in a sit/stay. They love it, I love it less. It's different when we're actually doing training with other people, but when it's just me and them, I find it hard to keep a focus.

But we do still train a lot. At the moment, we're working on shaping weave poles. So, rather than me running alongside them as they go through the weaves, having them run them independently in both directions, with me standing at one end. It's really cool, and we're all loving it. And meanwhile, the "non-working" dogs are practicing their stationing on their beds.
But, for me, with work being so crazy, it's really important to me to be able to get out in nature and turn my brain off. This evening, J couldn't come on our evening walk, so I took the Labradogs, turned on an audiobook, and just walked. I turned my brain off, so important. Yes, I've done so much with my dogs that they were asking to interact, but we just did some simple things I didn't have to think about (hunting for tennis balls, reinforcing check-ins, two feet on yada yada yada) and I took a much-needed break.

You have to do what you BOTH find most rewarding. It's not a competition (unless you want it to be ;) ), it's about enjoying your time with your dog. And even that doesn't have to look the same every day, every week, or every month.
I agree completely, what counts is that you and Cassie are happy and enjoying your time together. If you feel stressed or pushed beyond what you want to do, neither you nor she are going to have fun. Both my dogs love to work... but I have become a lot more relaxed about training as well. If Cassie likes to hunt - let her hunt. If someone else’s dog likes marked retrieves, then hooray, do marked retrieves! Merlin gets very worried by blinds, so instead of insisting on that, we mainly do stuff that he enjoys and is good at, with small exercises to improve his confidence on memory marks and blinds. I was very ambitious a year or so ago, but Merlin’s health has changed my attitude, and I think we are both much happier as a result. We train once or twice a week, but it’s fun, and I count a training session as successful when I see his joy on completing a task well, even if that is very simple! Poppy is different of course, she is a retrieving machine and really that is what she loves best in all the world.

I think you know that I run a dummy training group. I am always telling the group members to relax and have fun. All I really want is for the bond between them and their dogs to be able to grow, and for them to work together as a happy team.
when it's just me and them, I find it hard to keep a focus.
It's funny isn't it, I feel the same. It just doesn't feel right if it's just me and her, which is why I want to work on searches with her using her nose and evidently enjoys. Occasionally my son or daughter will throw some longer marked retrieves which excites her greatly, it seems to me she just loves to do it as part of a group.

I do lots of things on walks, especially stop whistle, scatter rewards and use my search whistle cue. It's great for keeping her engaged near me. Or a bit of agility over fallen trees/logs and so on. So plenty to entertain her mentally.
I turned my brain off, so important.
Reuben was a slow starter , he simply wasnt interested in retrieving and I am a firm believer in letting them be pups . Suddenly at around 7/8 months old, he got the bug and is now passionate about the whole thing but without all the rules ! More than anything he loves to search , taking directions well sometimes but not so well others , but he is still very much a youngster and as long as he is enjoying himself , we are forming a lovely partnership , I stopped worrying about the finer points years ago . Sounds like Cassie has a very fulfilled life which is down to you xx
I tried gun dog training with Charlie but was totally unsuccessful in finding a good or nice one so gave up and do it myself for fun. Charlie adores marked retrieves so that's what we do. He loves water retrieving so that's what we do. We do stuff together just for fun and to help his self control, not always easy! :facepalm: I feel it should be what you want to do not what you feel you should do. Not everyone who owns a gun dog has to do that type of training. If the fun has gone out of it do what is fun. xxx
So, our last lesson was about me wanting to improve Cassie's delivery to hand, which is pretty dire, through no fault of her own! In order to nurture her interest in retrieving I've used smaller dummies that she seems to hold ok, but when doing the GGS and we were using the ordinary 2lb dummies it was soon apparent that she was picking them up all wrong. She developed the habit of picking them up by the toggle and making them swing about so that she could have fun chasing them down, or throwing them in the air and catching them again. Especially on the easily seen marked retrieves. So I cut the toggles off, but she would still often carry them like a cigar!

So we have been learning shaping the hold, C&T from holding the dummy from me in the middle, increasing the duration up to the count of 5.
Secondly, I throw the dummy away and sit with my hands apart just so the dummy will fit inside, and C&T when she picks it up correctly, in the middle and turns towards me, I'm supposed to mark if she pauses but she seems now to come towards me so I reward that. I can see that my hand position really prompts her to do that now.

Thirdly, when retrieving out and about, I C&T for coming towards me holding the dummy and must have my hands behind my back so that I don't bend down and grab the dummy from her!! I've been very bad, doing that!! Again though I can see that this making a difference, she's now almost pushing it into me.

Of course, all of this should have been done way back, but I'm really enjoying doing this now, it seems to have put the light back in her eyes. The shaping is great fun actually, and is something that can be done to good effect on winter evenings when she is looking for interactions, bringing a toy and shoving it in our laps!!

A few repetitions for some high value rewards and she's ready for her evening snooze :) .

@FayRose -- how I wish we were closer, we could train our girls together :)