Overcoming vs. Reluctance
It is Much Easier to Build than to Rebuild.
It is Easier to Begin than to Begin Again.
Reluctance: An unwillingness because of
distrust, irresolution, or ignorance of what to do.
Although this 'text' was taken from a Sunday School lesson it applies to all everyday practices.
Some of the most common applications/occurrences relating to dogs and dog training is perhaps BLINKING/FLASH POINTING or GUNSHYNESS.
CAN A DOG BECOME UN-TRAINED?
YES and NO!
What does this have to do with overcoming or reluctance? A lot! You are going to have to overcome the disappointment and reluctantly begin again. Why?
"My dog was coming along just great last year. Now he works & covers the ground great, flashes a point, then heads for the truck." OR another owner says, "He quickly points and takes off again for more hunting. That's all he seems to want to do, find the birds, bust them and then go again."
(1) If your Llew is just running & flash pointing without holding, it could indicate a fear of returning to the kennel for 2 more weeks or a month, without a good run. Your dog is simply smart enough to stay out of your reach and is obeying its strong desire to hunt When you come too close Llew is leaving. IF YOU WANT DEVOTION YOU MUST GIVE IT.
(2) If Llew is working along great, points birds then pounces on in "busting the birds" go back to the puppy command of WHOA. Begin again.
(3) If Llew is working along great, scents birds and heads for the truck Llew has become "Bird-Shy". Llew was not born that way but made that way. Such a dog will hunt the field and covers diligently but will studiously avoid finding game. He may fear that if he does locate birds he'll be punished for some failure in handling them. Therefore he'll save himself a lot of trouble by side-stepping it entirely. Or this may have begun with a sudden fright. Llew may have stepped on a thorn the instant the birds rose. Llew will associate the pain with the sudden noise of a covey rise (you know yourself how your adrenaline starts to pump and you are always startled even when you are waiting for the rise). Thus I'm afraid it is - pain - related to noise - related to birds for Llew.
(4) Blinking may simply be caused by the dog's dislike of having a gun fired too close. He establishes point on game but, when the hunter approaches, breaks and runs around to the other side of the covey, still in there but still on his own. This puts the dog opposite the gun so that when the covey is flushed the birds frequently fly into the hunter's face, making the shot extremely difficult.
(5) OR Did you, and the other three guys with you, all shoot at once, 3 or 4 times each, with your automatic shotguns, over young Llew. Again, Llew was not born that way but made that way. Remember go to the field, the first several times, with Llew by yourself to get an unseasoned dog used to the new, actual hunting adventure. Even the second year dog should be taken out before season to a shooting preserve for conditioning and one on one experience. Your excitement will transfer as a good experience while the excitement and shouts of several hunters may confuse young Llew.
NO MATTER THE CAUSE YOU MUST BACKTRACK AND COVER ALL OF THE SOLUTIONS. SOCIALIZE - CONTROL - PRAISE. Llew must be totally comfortable with you and eager to please.........
A year lost in development = too much lost time. Your dog should be 'handled' at all times as if season is always in.Remember the word CONTROL. You cannot let a dog do as it wants in off-season and expect it to automatically revert to training actions in the fall.
Take a new look at your dogs actions. There can be different causes which are 'handled' differently. Think back to when this first happened. Think back to the last good work.
The cause is often in the distant past by the time you realize there is a problem... You may be unable to recall any incident, until at a later date, something similar happens to remind you. Don't dwell on it, just acknowledge the problem and begin to work on the solution.
The problem is NOT irreversible. You will have to back up further - further than you at first expected. You have grown to love your Llewellin and the feeling is mutual. IF THIS IS NOT THE CASE, THEN YOU HAVE THE WRONG BREED OF DOG FOR YOU.
Chances are you have let Llew get away with several things since you had him working well. Perhaps you didn't see the need for all the word commands and CONSISTENT obedience at home.
Go back to the first word commands. Work with Llew on a lead rope at all times - so that you can IMMEDIATELY take control if Llew doesn't want to mind! Each word command has a definite place in both play and in the field for 'work'.
Does Llew stop and look at you when you speak her name? She should. The name is spoken to get Llew's attention. If this is not the case begin there. All commands should be preceded by the name. If you have Llew's attention there is no need to raise your voice in command.
There are to be NO treats or kind words of encouragement......... EXCEPT for a job well done. A firm, brief NO and a jerk on the lead rope will get the attention of Llew. REPEAT - REPEAT - REPEAT. Remember to set the length of each work session in advance. If you work too long both you and Llew will become impatient, doing more harm than good. Try to end the work session on a positive note (that is on a correct response).
Llew must again become re-accustomed to the report of a gun. Shoot a blank pistol into the ground (this produces a muffled not whistling or whining sound), as you did when Llew was a pup. At first do this as you approach the kennel from a distance on the way to feed. Begin storing select table scraps in the fridge for the days you shoot. Show total unconcern if she dashes to the dog house. If you have another dog that shows only a pleasant reaction, Llew will pick up on that and soon become re-accustomed, jumping up on the fence and eager for food. Gradually fire the pistol at a increasingly closed range. Later, wait until Llew is digging in to a totally tasty morsel of food to fire. Llew will soon quit dashing away and stay with the treat.
If you do not have the time to do these things, then again you have the wrong breed of dog. The Llewellin NEEDS you and your time. The best Llewellin is a family pet. But remember, even the family pet, just like the family kids, should know right from wrong.
The cure is basically the same for both bird-shyness and gun-shyness, keep a long lead rope attached to the collar at all times in the field. When Llew breaks this will keep the dog at hand. Just call Llew back in as you change direction. (One hunter told me that he attached the end of the lead rope to a swivel, hooked to his belt loop. It didn't hold! He advises you hook it to your belt instead to free your hands.) Approach and use the blank pistol to flush the birds. You must be prepared for Llew to bolt. You must be prepared to lead Llew in to the area of bird fall as you pick up the bird. Rub and pet Llew and allow Llew to smell the bird to show it is not the object that caused the pain/fear association in Llews' head. Stow the bird away and continue on in a positive manner. Show total unconcern as you work the area. Llew will pick up on your lack of fear as long as you display no animosity toward Llews' reaction.
Take care that on the first several expeditions to the bird field that NO ONE opens fire and continues needless shooting. In fact, although you take the gun (so Llew can see it) don't fire it for a few trips. Use the long lead rope in the same manner you would in the case of bird-shyness. Show total unconcern, talk to Llew both before and after you shoot in a soothing tone. With comparatively few lessons the dog should steady down and learn to tolerate both the flush and the gun. The close bird proximity will soon over-ride Llews' fears. Before long Llew will dash in for the retrieve.
You are going to have to make Llew forget that, for a while, you were the dog (you were going where Llew went AND going along with what Llew did). One of the greatest attributes of a Llewellin is that it hunts with you and for you. You do not have to keep up with them and run at their pace. By word and hand pointing you WILL be able to direct your Llewellin in an effortless manner. Yes, allow Llew to cover the area as you aim in the general direction you wish to go. Yes, follow the lead of Llew if it is apparent that birds are about. After the flush, kill and retrieve; praise and patting of Llew, simply turn and say, "Come on Llew, over this way." Llew will dash in front of you and hunt to the utmost.
I'm sorry but there is nothing for you to do but to begin again. Believe me, it will be worth every bit of the effort. Llew will be a companion and friend for years to come.