A few notes before I forget.
-Apparently my dog is out of condition. She needs to build more stamina and muslce per Don.
-He was VERY good about not pushing the issue of an e-collar. The fact that we had two very successful whistle recalls reinforced that, GOOD GIRL.
-We have to work on retrieves with a bird (I knew that going in). She did eventually pick it up and carry it, but was very reluctant to at first.
-We have a break to work on "things" until after Labor Day!
Now... from the beginning, I think!
We arrived a little early (my plan) so we walked a little bit while he worked a Brittany and some kind of long haired pointer. She was able to relax quickly despite kennels of dogs barking and carrying on. She was walking on a loose leash with a fair amount of attention before he came back. We worked a little more while he went to plant a chukkar for us.
Plan of action was to release her on the pigeons. He let the pigeons out and we released her. She checked the pen (smart girly) and then got to work immediatly. This is where he told me I need to shut up, unless I am praising my dog. JUST like any other sport, LET HER WORK IT OUT (has it been drilled into my head enough yet? Probably not). I got better as we progressed but hah... She flushed quite a few pigeons and he started firing blanks after she flushed. The first one she reacted to slightly and the rest about the same. He wasn't closeby when she flushed, so the gunshot wasn't extremely loud.
After we played with pigoens, we headed to where he planted the chukkar. She wasn't quite sure of what she was doing anymore and it took a lot of coaxing for her to flush the chukkar, since we had to get so close for her to flush it, the gun went off nearly right over her head. That was not ok with her, and she backed up quite a few steps before sitting and staring. She did NOT bolt, which is the good news, and she DID pick up the chukkar (with some coaxing, and me telling her directly to "take it"). After that we threw the bird and had her practice picking it up. Before we quit she was going to get the bird and holding it while I pet her.
I had to talk this one through with myself (and a friend)... Don doesn't want me to take the bird from her immediately when she returns. He wants to build a solid hold first. He's having me pet her/praise her while she is still holding the bird. It didn't make sense at first (I'd want to be working the real thing) but it does now. Since she doesn't have a reliable retrieve, and no hold to speak of... I do want to get her comfortable with holding it and carrying it before asking her for it.
All in all, I was very pleased. Despite her looking like a brainless pretty dog, she's still got some instinct in there. Looks can be deceiving.
Our homework is to work on retrieving the bird (I now have a chukkar in my freezer) and working around gunshots.
He's confident we can do it, and I'm getting there. If I knew what this was all about, I'd likely have more to say on the matter!
Phew! Now I need to get my bike tire fixed so we can work on conditioning.