How to get children involved?

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How to get children involved?

Postby Karen_P » Sun Jul 04, 2004 8:36 am

I have a 12 yr old son who needs an outside hobby in the worst way. He's way too sedentary and not what I would call athletic. You can absolutely tell he's been raised by his mother as he's not into sports at all (we've tried several and he just doesn't enjoy them).

He adores the dogs and was very involved in Courage's puppy kindergarten and obedience training and I would love to get him involved in hunting also, but he's a sensitive soul who doesn't want to hurt another animal.

Any suggestions on how to make hunting a fun hobby for him?
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Postby CJ » Sun Jul 04, 2004 2:43 pm

Hunt test! I've met a lot of people at hunt test aht don't hunt, they just do it because they saw one and saw how the dogs love it, or they were amazed at how pointing dogs operate and had to get into it. From there, a number of them couldn't get enough of a fix just testing the dogs and/or thought they spent way to much time training to just test a few times a year and..... ended up turning into hunters. Get him to a hunt test and let him watch, or get him with someone with Britts (or a GSP or something like that... not an english pointer... he'll never see the dog) that is training or hunting with his dogs... he'll get hooked just watching.... May want to check with the fish & game dept. They sometimes have youth stuff like that for kids just like your boy. Our club is actually working w/ F&G to put on a youth hunt this fall at a game preserve for kids who (for a very wide variety of reasons) don't have someone who can take them bird hunting, so we're going to bring our dogs and mentor them for a weekend. should be a hoot. good luck cj
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Postby Paula McNally » Sun Aug 01, 2004 4:11 pm

CJ-
I hate to sound so dumb, but I really do not know what happens at a hunt trial. Can you tell me what happens, and what the dogs do at one?
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Postby CJ » Mon Aug 02, 2004 10:55 am

Paula,
No problem, you don't sound dumb at all.... everybody is new to things at once! There are test & trials... The trials are FAR more competitive and work on a more subjective standard (dog against dog) and tests are set to more of an objective standard... the dogs being tested to a standard rather than competing agains each other where theres only one winner. So in a trial, theres only one #1 dog, and at a test there can be multiple dogs that "qualify".
Soo... that being said... tests... there are three levels of test, Jr., Sr., & Master. Jr. is basically a test of the dogs natural ability to use his nose and cover some ground and where he covers ground (does he hunt in front or behind you), and will he hold a point for a minimal period of time (I think the standard is like 10 seconds or something like that). Sr. is more stringent and adds things to it like the dog has to hold longer & style counts somewhat. Has to hold through the flush and to the shot at the bird, has to "honor" (stop and stand/point at the sight of another dog on point as if he was pointing the bird himself), and retrieve a shot bird to withing one step of the handler. Master is all of that on steriods.
Soo... with the what they're looking for out of the way, the way it works "practically" is... you have two dogs in each brace (a brace is the 20-50 minute segment of time which two dogs are "hunting" and being judged). Each dog has a handler, the handler is the person whom the dog is "hunting" for. The two handlers have their dogs leashed at the break-away point (starting line) and wait for the judges to say their peice and give permission for the dogs to break-away. It's good manners for the handlers to at least make eye contact and a nod so that the dogs are loosed at the same time (this helps prevent one dog from "trailing" or chasing the other dog... just doesn't look good for the dogs). The judges will then dirrect the handlers through the course. The courses can vary between two types of course... either one large course where birds can be found anywhere (not the norm for logistics & cost reasons) or a two stage course with a "backfield" and a "bird field" at the end. The backfield is a stretch of ground that could, but probably doesn't, have birds in it (in other words it's got hidding spots for birds... sage brush, cat tails, alders, etc....). The object of this part of the course is to watch the dog and see how he hunts without having to deal with if the dog is going to bust a bird (smell them but not stop to point, or not smell them and flush them by running over the top of them). Its a time when it should be evident that the dog is hunting for the handler and not himself. Soo.. the dog should be moving around in the front 180degree arch of the handler... So here is where the handler should be helping the dog by walking towards/through parts of the backfield where the dog should be wanting to hunt.... and the dog should be "checking in" with the handler (looking to see where he/she is and hunting in front of them). Better yet if the dog is "quartering" (zig zagging back and forth as he moves generally forward. From time to time the handler need to "handle" the dog to get them to do what they should be doing (and sometimes what the judges want to see) by calling them back on the course (dogs sometimes get a wiff of a rabbit and run off the course). Unfortunately, some people end up "hacking" instead of handling... hacking is when you have to (or maybe don't have to, but do it anyway) constantly guide your dog through the course. Hacking is considered excessive voice commands or whistle commands (some people use voice, and others a whistle). Soo... basically the backfield is a nice walk (sometimes in billygoat terrain) watching your dog do his thing and helping him look good by keeping him within the boundries of the course (either by moving left/right & him adjusting to where you are, or by telling him to move).
Then theres what I call the money section, or the bird field... I call it the money section because this is where you either pee away your entry fee or take home a qualifying ribbon. The bird field is generally well defined by some type of natural markers or with flags or something. I can't remember the minimum area requirements, but it strikes me as it's like a couple of acre area. Anywho... this is the area where the people running the test have "planted" some birds (they dizzy up a bird and then stick them in a bush or someplace where the bird can stay hid and feel somewhat safe when they come out of their stupper). So here the dogs do the same as the backfield but... they have to "act right" and point when they come on a bird... at least for 10 or so seconds. When they go on point, the handler has to come up to where the dog is and find & flush the bird out of hiding. Most just kick the bush/shrub or get a toe under the bird and nudge it out. The trick here is to have the dog trained enough to hold tight long enough for the level he's being tested to. With a Jr. dog (and Jr. is a level of ability, not necessarily the age of the dog) the handler has to fire a blank pistol when the bird takes to the air. For Sr. you have to carry an unloaded shotgun and someone else (a designated gunner supplied by the people running the test) actually shoots the bird when it flies... same with Master but you have to point your unloaded shotgun and/but the gunner shoots it.
Soo... for Jr. that's about the long and short of it. Oh... one other thing... you want to make sure your dog isn't interfering with the other dog. So if the other dog is on point, in Jr. you should call you dog to you and walk off away from him so your dog doesn't bust the other dogs bird. In Sr. & master, you dog will have to stop on its own to honor the other dogs point.
If you or the dog messes up, the judge will let you know and tell you to leash your dog and leave the course. As far as qualifying... the Jr. test is judged on 4 catagories on a 1-10 scale. Trainability, hunting, pointing, and bird finding. Trainability is kind of a catch all catagory, but generally... they look for if the dog listens to you. So when you say "come", does he come right then, or do it when he gets around to it, or not at all. Hunting is how the dog hunts.... does he kind of poke along, or does he keep a good pace.. does he hunt in front of you or behind you. Does he seem to use the wind? Does he quarter? Does he work typical cover? Or just run around in the open where birds wouldn't/couldn't be with no reason or rhyme? Pointing is kind of self explainitory... does the dog point or just smell the bird and rush it. A dog can gain score for a stylish point here as well... in other words, how the dog goes on point and how he looks. So if the dog is keeping a good pace, smells a bird, and then "switches ends" (instincts/trainings kick in, and the dog wheels around in a snap as his body goes rigid for the point). Also, does is it intense/rigid or just barely standing still. Is he classicly pointing (head kind of high with a Britt) or styled up (neck out, one paw up)... both are a good thing. Or just kind of hanging out. Bird finding is again kind of speaks for itself... did he find a bird. In order to pass, he has to find a bird... All 4 parts are graded seperately on 1-10 scale... the dog must have no lower than a 5 in any catagory. Any catagory score under 5 and the dog does not qualify. Then, the mean score must be abouve a 7. So a dog can have one 5 or a few 6's, but the other scores must make up the difference so it averages 7+. So you could have 5,6,10,9 for a mean score of 7.5 and qualify for that test... but a 5,6,9,7 does not qualify. For a Jr. to get his Jr. title from AKC, he has to qualify 4 times/4 different tests... Some clubs have tests on a weekend and have one Sat. & another on Sun... if the dog qialifies both days, he's 1/2 way there... Other clubs run test on weekends with other (parnter) clubs and you can get 4 different tests in on one weekend.
Please be warned... this can be very addictive! Once you see your dog work and qualify a few times.... you can't get enough! It can also lead to huntitus... a chronic mallody that can only be treated and never cured.... The only known treatment is days spent afield with your dog watching upland game birds fly into the air, come tumbling to the earth after the rapport of a shotgun, and then brought back to your hand by your furry partner. The level of recovery being dirrectly proportional to the amount of time spent afield!. Hope this helps, let me know if you need more info!....
c.j.


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Postby Paula McNally » Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:29 pm

CJ-
thank you so much for explaining this sport to me. You did a excellent job describing the trials to me in a easy, understandable fashion.
I now know what your passion is! I can tell you are really hooked on this sport, and you are really into it.
Usually it is women who go on and on about what "floats their boat", but I find it very refreshing that a man can get so "geared" up about a hobby.
Thank you again, and I bet you and the dogs come home rather tired from a day out in the field!
Paula
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Postby CJ » Tue Aug 03, 2004 4:42 pm

LOL, you'd be suprised how many women actually handle their dogs in hunt tests! It's pretty cool! now starting to see more young people too... it's really good for the sport, and more importantly, for the dogs that are getting more of a chance to get out and to "their" thing because of it. in any event, you are more than welcome... hope you get a chance to try it, or at least go watch one.....
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Postby Janice » Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:17 pm

We tried it once and it definatly seemed addictive. Rolo was really into it and did quite well. Blue on the other hand was SO into it, he went racing off on his own and scared us half to death that we'd never see him again. Actually, after he settled down, he came back and actually started working with my husband instead of on his own.

Cj gave us some good tips on working with him to really get his obedience under control, but shortly thereafter Blue came up with a tumor on his neck and we couldn't even put a collar around his neck for weeks after the surgery. His training program went straight down the tubes. With Blue's independant nature and all the money I put into two surgerys for removal of his cancer I'm not sure I want to let him out in several hundred acres for fear of him taking off on his own hunting spree and never seeing him again.

I'd love to be able to take Rolo out, but no way could I do that and leave Blue at home. We never had so much fun with the dogs as watching them work, it was all so natural for them. The birds took a bit of a beating with our dogs though. Rolo had one on point and got so excited he actually pounced on it and pinned it down. One of the birds Blue pointed started running away and Blue chased it and then grabbed it up. Anyhow it was a blast and very addictive.
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