waI hope everyone is staying safe and cool with their pets during these extreme temps. It seems like that all over California, their have been excessive heat warnings. If you're like me, then you are probably heading to your pool or some body of water!
With that in mind, I have some important safety tips to remember.
#1 Prior to entering the water with your pup, lower the chlorine to a reasonable level.
Just like people, dogs can have itchy skin if the chemical levels are too high.
#2 Dogs generally swim with their mouth open at least part of the time, especially if you have a retriever. Again, please make sure you lower the chems in your pool!
#3 Dogs can get overheated even while playing in the water. Make sure you are paying attention to them and look for any signs of heat exhaustion (if you don't know what that looks like, no problem, click here!). Give them a break if you notice of any of those signs or symptoms.
#4 Remember, they tend to drink water while swimming, so make sure to give them chances to go to the bathroom (not in the pool :D). Don't worry, dogs aren't like kids and won't pee in your pool!
Well everyone, fall is almost here! I am really looking forward to the rain and what comes with it!
With a change in the seasons, comes a change in routines for our dog, especially for those of us with sporting dogs. Bearing that in mind, I have a few tips to share with you.
# 1 Adjust the amount of food your dog gets daily based on exercise levels. This is especially important for those of us with high energy working dogs. For example, if you're going to be taking your dog out for a full day of hunting, make sure they get enough food to sustain them for the day.
# 2 Adjust the amount of food intake based on temperature changes. Dogs will burn energy and food off trying to stay warm. So, if you're taking one of those late winter cold weather hunts, or a trip to the Central Coast, give your dog what they need to thrive and stay roasty toasty.
# 3 Physical Fitness: If you have a dog that has been a couch potato all summer long, don't just throw them back into an intense and demanding schedule of training and physical activity. The best advice I can give is to slowly work them back into shape because that's the best chance of avoiding serious injury.
#4 Let your dog experience different kinds of weather conditions. If you are practicing scent work with your pup, it's good to expose them to different terrain and air conditions. It's good to let them practice bird tracking with and without the wind, because they'll have to do both in real world hunt situations. Since there isn't much wind here in the summer, I'm going to take full of advantage of it this winter and let my dog air scent as much as possible.
And.... here's some tips for us handlers/humans as well! We can't forget that, much like our dogs, we need season tune ups in shooting and other things!
# 1 Break out that duck call and dust it off a little bit. Get used to the sound again a little bit. You can also practice making it less novel for your dog so they don't get over excited every time they hear it in the field.
# 2 Practice mounting your gun to your shoulder a few times. It's true what "they" say, it's just like riding a bike. However, it's good to get some practice in before heading back into the duck blind or field.
# 3 Head back out to the trap range a few times. Get yourself used to shooting at a moving target.
#4 Practice muzzle awareness. This sort of goes hand in hand with number two. It's important to practice this for the safety of other hunters, but also for your dog's sake. You always want to know where your dog is in relation to where you are shooting. You always want the concussion to go away from your dog for two main reasons. The first is obvious so they aren't accidentally shot. The second is something less well known. If you fire directly next to your dog too many times, they can accidentally become gun shy.
That is all for now! But we do have some exciting things coming your way in the coming months! Check us out on Facebook to learn more and stay up to date!
Hello positive gun dog training fans! It has been too long since I have posted. The months of July and August have been keeping me busy. However, I am thankful because we are almost to September and the cooler temperatures of fall and winter.
I do have some exciting news to share. Several months ago, I placed an order for a new product called the "SoloShot 3." This device is a camera mounted on a tripod that tracks you while recording video so that you don't have to find someone to do the filming. This was the solution to one of my biggest hurdles: producing training videos for my readers and followers to see. I am pleased and energized to announce that after many months of waiting, this awesome new piece of technology is on its way to my front door. I hope you are ready because the amount of training videos I can create via my new robotic assistant will be limitless!!!!
Is there something about gun dog training or obedience that you've been wanting to see demonstrated? I am all ears and I am taking requests starting..... NOW! I want to provide you with answers to any and all questions that you may have about teaching our canine friends skills and behaviors!
Want to see a natural retrieve versus a positively trained retrieve? Curious about how to properly get a dog used to loud noises? Are you interested in seeing a dog proficiently work a field? Well, contact me today either via email, FB, text, or phone call and let me know! I am psyched to try out my new camera and get things rolling! I want to help you help your dog improve and unleash their full potential!
For any newcomers to this blog, here is our training philosophy. We work with you and your dog at your own pace (and your dog's) to set them up for success. What is most important to me, Zane Brown, is making sure your dog enjoys his job, and your favorite past time: BIRD HUNTING! Because if you're not having fun, then what's the point? It's my belief that you whatever you do for work, you should like doing it! It's the same with our furry, four legged friends and companions. The more they like their job and the more positive feedback they receive, the better they will be at it.
Contact us today to get started or to find out more! I am looking forward to hearing from you!
Also find us on FB!
Good morning! I guess I should be almost be saying good afternoon!
For my Central Valley readers, I hope this finds you and your pups staying cool and safe from the smoke we are getting these large wildfires. I was lucky enough to get a break from the smoke (but not the heat) this weekend as my dog Tuff and I took a trip up north to a training seminar in the Bay Area. Fortunately for him, he got to swim in some canals and ponds all the while honing his skills as both an upland bird and waterfowl hunter.
This weekend was an opportunity to learn more about managing drives, desires, and arousal in sporting dogs. These are all necessary qualities in a gun dog, but being able to handle them positively is truly an art form. Jt was also a chance to meet some like minded people (some were even from the Fresno area!). It is definitely a small world!
It still amazes me the amount of things a dog can learn willingly through positive methods. It was an honor to watch everyone's dog perform well in the field and enjoy doing it. Mine did not want to get back in the car at the end of the day, he was having way too much fun!
Are you having trouble with an extremely driven dog that just can't focus in a very distracting environment? Do they love the bumper or Dokken more than you? No problem! There is hope! With the skills and techniques learned over the last few days, I can help! There is hope for you and your beloved four-legged buddy! Give me a call today at 559-287-3375 to schedule a free consultation and get started.
Hello hunting enthusiasts! For those of you in the Central Valley of good ole California, I hope you are surviving this recent heat wave we are having. I know that I am having to get up earlier in order to train my dog before it gets too hot!
I've talked a lot about training in most of recent blog entries, so I wanted to change directions a second. I wanted to talk about a certain breed of hunting dog: The Labrador retriever, and what makes it such a quality dog for both the home and field. In the home, labs are very gentle with children. In the field, their agility and trainability makes them a huge asset. These kinds of dogs desire to please their owners, which is why positive training techniques are the best methods to use when working with this particular breed.
Most labs are very high spirited and have A LOT of energy, which is great whether you take them to the duck blind or out upland bird hunting. The most important thing is what you do with that energy; I suggest channeling it into something positive, like hunting or some other dog sport.
If you haven't guessed, this entry is a tribute to my favorite kind of dog. I've had labs all my life and they have always been great hunting buddies and companions. At Reliable Retrievers, we work with all different kinds of bird dogs! If you're interested in training your dog positively, give us a call today to get started, and you and your dog could be featured on our site or in one of our video demonstrations! Call us today at 559 287-3375!
I realized that it has been some time since I have posted about positive gun dog training as a whole. I wanted to shed some light for any newcomers/new followers I have to The Reliable Retriever Blog.
Some of you may be wondering, what are the benefits of positive gun dog training, or positive dog training in general? You may also be thinking, "Well, how does it work?" It's not easy to finely narrow down just what exactly positive training is as there are so many facets. However, I believe that the foundation of it all is a mutually beneficial, positive relationship with your dog. The goal of positive methods is to have your dog WANT to work with you and to enjoy doing it. Essentially, we are teaching the dog what we would like them to do without force, fear, intimidation, or physical punishment. As trainers, we teach behaviors and skills (in the case of hunting dogs) in increments so as to ensure the success of the dog performing said skills.
As a practitioner of the art of science-based dog training, I could probably list out at least a hundred things which in my mind are great about it (I may be just a tad bit biased). Recently, I've been asking myself this question, "What do other people find so rewarding about positive gun dog training? Why did they choose it over traditional training?" As a side note, please feel free to comment in the space below or email me directly if you would like, I am always happy to talk with people who have similar interests, especially when it comes to dog training. :)
So what are some of the "pros" about this new kind of training? Well, one in particular which stands out to me is that there is a lot less stress on the part of the trainer. I always tell people, imagine this scenario: you're a teacher whose goal is to manage a group of students and teach them a certain lesson. You're trying to keep everything under control but the kids are being kids; they're doing everything you don't want them to do. In essence, they're "running wild." Wouldn't it become tedious to keep correcting them every five seconds when they do something that you didn't like? I was on my way to becoming a teacher once, and I always thought it was draining and frustrating to keep having to pause what I was doing to stop a student who was misbehaving.
Do you think it would be much easier and less frustrating to know what motivated each individual student? Intrinsic motivation is one of the most powerful tools in the dog training world, especially for hunting dogs. I learned a trick of the trade from my mentor, Tom Aaron. A while back, before I started training dogs on my own, I was having trouble getting my dog to drop a retrieving dummy. I tried everything. Tom asked me what really motivated my dog, and I said a tennis ball on a rope. So, we were training out in the field and Tom took out the ball on a rope. He threw the dummy for Tuff (my dog) and when he came running back, Tom waited patiently for him to drop the dummy, and the instant he dropped it, Tom threw the ball as a reward. In dog training, the harder the thing you're asking your dog do, the more rewarding the outcome needs to be. More simply put, when your dog does something that's really hard for them, you need to make the reward really high value and worth what they just did. :)
Another extreme benefit in my mind is that when you teach attention positively, the dog willingly focuses on you. This can come in very handy when you are out in the field hunting. The last thing you want is to be worried that your dog is going to run off and get into trouble or run away from you. That can spoil what otherwise would be have been a fun hunting trip with friends and family. Aside from paying attention, training your dog to come to you when you call is also extremely beneficial. The two go hand in hand and are equally important for everyone's enjoyment.
Ok enough talking. I actually have a video that I would like to share and of its my dog demonstrating how well he pays attention to me. Keep in mind that is just a simple demonstration, but it is the building block for all future work. In training, laying a solid foundation is super important for any training that will be done in the field. Stay tuned for more videos coming next week! Here is the video link: Positively Achieved Attention.
Also, if you want to see further evidence of what positive reinforcement can do for a gun dog, check out our one of a kind commercial produced right here in the Central Valley. Here is a link to that: Positive Gun Dog Training Fresno, CA.
You will probably hear me say this a lot, regardless of whether you have enrolled your dog in training with me: A proper foundation for training is extremely important! It is critical for every aspect of a hunting dog's future training. For example, at eight weeks old, I began to teach my dog that checking in with me periodically earns him a big payday (a positive outcome). This has made him a lot more likely to come back to me every few minutes, which is extremely useful for a hunting dog. I think of it like a safety net; I always know where my dog is and I don't have to worry him getting into trouble.
So, how do you start off with a good foundation for a solid recall? I started off by letting Tuff (my dog) wander a few feet and then I would call him back by saying his name. If he came back, I would throw a huge party and reward him with a treat or a good game of tug. A quick side note on that, if you have a dog that has difficulty coming to you, a game of tug is a perfectly acceptable reward. If you have any questions or concerns about a game of tug with your gun dog, I totally understand, please email me to discuss it further and I will alleviate your concerns in any way that I can.
Ok, back to recall. You may be wondering, "how do I get my dog to focus on me long enough to actually come back to me?" This is a question I get a lot. It all comes back to a good training base. I start off with all my dogs that I train by practicing attention games in a low distraction environment. When I say low distraction environment, I am referring to a location where there are not a lot of distracting smells, other dogs barking, etc. For young dogs, I simply start off by rewarding any kind of attention that they offer up willingly. A good example of that is eye contact. With young dogs, I lower the criteria that I am looking for and work at the dog's pace from there. It's important to keep in mind that every dog is different, some learn faster than others, and some you have to work a little more on certain things, and there is nothing wrong with that!
One of the keys to success in positive gun dog training is a solid, positive foundation in the most general sense. You want your dog to enjoy being with you in everything that you do together. You don't want your dog to feel unsure about being around you. Put it this way, if you were spending time with someone and you didn't know how they were going to react when you did something or said something, you'd probably feel uneasy and/or a little worried. Well, it's the same for your dog. Dogs can become hesitant to perform behaviors for you if they are worried or scared. In the dog training world, we call that fear shutdown. On the other hand, some dogs will perform a behavior out of fear and in a desire to make a negative outcome disappear. In simple English, some dogs will do what their owner is asking them to do in order for an unpleasant action (such as an ear pinch or yelling) to cease. From an objective standpoint, this method of training can sometimes work (it depends on the dog) but it usually does not produce an enthusiastic response from the dog.
I have added a video below of my dog, Tuff, and I. It's a short clip but you will see how well he is paying attention to me. He walks with me and he is majorly focused on me. This could be your dog!
Well that's all for now folks. Time to get back to training for me! If you want to learn more about a positive recall or anything else positive gun dog training, call us at (559) 287-3375 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your positive journey today!
Hello all! It has been a crazy few days and I feel like I have been out of touch with everyone, not to mention reality (just kidding!). I wanted to take this time to give you an update on some services that we have coming up this summer.
In July, Reliable Retrievers is going be unveiling its new Rattlesnake Avoidance Protocol training program. This particular curriculum is not just useful for rattlesnake safety, but also avoiding all sorts of other critters. One prime example of a creature you want to avoid is a skunk. If you've ever had a dog that has gotten sprayed by a skunk, then you can definitely see the value of training this type of behavior. I once had a dog of mine get sprayed by a skunk through a patch of reeds, and she smelled for HOURS. We even had to throw away the bed she was sleeping on. My next example I am taking from the "Homeward Bound" movie. Yes, I know I am dating myself with that, but it was one of my favorite movies. Those of you have seen that movie already know where this is going: the scene with the porcupine where Chance is curious and inches up to it, and then gets hit with its barbs.
A skunk is one thing, but a rattlesnake is quite another one. As most of you know, encountering a venomous snake rarely ends well, especially if you have your dog with you. Dogs are very curious creatures, and that can lead to issues in certain situations, as mentioned above with the movie reference. However, with rattlers, its much more serious. Apart from being potentially fatal, rattlesnake bites can also cause tissue degeneration. All around, its just a bad deal. So, do you want to know what you can do about it? Well, there are several things. The first thing I definitely recommend is a "rattlesnake avoidance protocol." This is basically a training regimen that teaches your dog certain techniques and behaviors to keep them safe in the event of a venomous snake encounter. The second thing I recommend is a rattlesnake vaccine. Now, keep in mind that this is not 100% effective. Basically, having this on board gives you extra time to get to the nearest emergency vet to administer the antivenin. For more info on this, I would consult with your veterinarian.
We also have some other exciting services coming later this summer! In August, we are going to be offering our first ever board and train program. This particular service is going to be geared towards our Gun Dog Foundations program, which applies to both waterfowl and upland bird dogs. Zane will provide one-on-one, dedicated instruction to your dog and set them up for success as a future hunting dog. Zane has limited space in the program, and is currently only accepting one dog for the month of August. The dog will reside with Zane and be trained both at his residence and at his field training location to produce a well-rounded dog.
Last but certainly not least, is our Positive Gun Dog Training seminar service. This is designed for people who wish to get an in-depth introduction to what exactly positive gun dog training is. This is for people who want to understand the mechanics of positive hunting dog training and to be more self sufficient in the training of their dog. If you wish to find out more about this particular service, or sign up for a seminar, please don't hesitate to contact Zane at 559-287-3375 or email@example.com.
Hello everyone! I hope this finds you surviving the heat and enjoying time with your hunting dogs! There has been a lot going on in my world recently, and I wanted to share some of the developments with you, my readers.
About a month ago, I had the privilege to meet up with two like minded individuals: two fellow positive reinforcement trainers who live and work in the Central Valley. We met to discuss forming our own organization of positive reinforcement trainers. For those of you who don't know, positive trainers are few and far between, especially in our area and in the world of bird dog trainers. Given that, I was super excited to be meeting more practitioners of science-based, force free dog training!
Anyway, I met with Ali Imel, of Yosemite Bark Pet Services, and Rebecca Corso of Your Pro Dog Trainer. We met locally here in Fresno to discuss how to go about achieving our goal: connect the positive trainers of the Central San Joaquin Valley, and provide people with current, up-to-date information on modern dog training. Personally, one of the reasons that I wanted to "join forces" is because I have always believed that there is strength in numbers. Since I became a practitioner of positive reinforcement gun dog training, one of my goals has been to spread awareness of this new type of training all over California.
Unlike the rest of the dog sports, gun dog training is among the last of the holdouts. The majority of trainers still use aversive methods, and most people are surprised when they hear that you can train a high drive dog positively. But there is a movement towards force-free methods in hunting dogs that is slowly gaining traction and momentum in the United States. However, I wasn't happy just sitting around, so I decided to grab the bull by the horns and help it along, and that's where (for me) the idea for an organization/alliance started.
Since positive training is such a niche, I felt that doing some networking and getting to know other like minded people was a positive step in the right direction. In anything you do, networking is important. For me, it was especially important because I am a one of a kind gun dog trainer, the only professional trainer in California who employs such methods. The biggest draw for me personally was getting to reach out and connect with two people who are in the same industry/profession I am! It also helps that we are all dog-lovers and are very passionate about our chosen profession. Actually, I think it is a necessity to have a passion and a drive for anything you do, but especially if you are a positive dog trainer. In my opinion, that goes double if you are to train bird dogs using science-based, force-free methods.
Anyway, our group is still very much in its infancy, but I urge everyone to check out our website, which you can find by clicking here or going to www.centralvalleyforcefreedogtrainersalliance.com..
Please keep in mind that we just launched the website a few weeks ago, so we ask you to bear with us while we continue working hard. Over the next several months, we will be adding more resources to the site, so please check back periodically. If you are a trainer who is interested in joining our ranks, please don't hesitate to contact me via email or phone, we welcome all who are interested in become positive practitioners!
As the 4th of July draws closer and closer, I feel the need to talk about gun proofing again. It's something I have talked about in previous blogs and social media posts, but it can have such a profound and lasting effect on our dogs, that I feel the need to repeat it.
Getting your gun dog used to loud noises is so important, especially if you live in the Fresno area! Fresno and Clovis alone have 4th of July celebrations complete with lots of fireworks, and not just the low key kind. There are much more than sparklers going on at these festivities. Now, I may not be up to date on all the latest pyrotechnic trends, but I do know that without proper desensitization to these kinds of sounds, your dog can very scared and even possibly run away.
I am going to start off by listing a few "do's and don'ts." I'm going to start with the "don't" column first. Number 1: DON'T take your dog to the shooting range and leave them in the car. Many people think this is a viable choice for gun proofing but it is not. The first issue here is that you never know exactly what kind of guns are going to be shot at a range on any given day. This prevents you having control over the environment, which is critical with this kind of training. You need to be able to observe your dog's reactions to the gunfire and slow down/back off as needed. If you keep forcing a dog and pushing them further before they are ready, you're going to make them gun shy and that has lasting, negative effects. It is important to go at your dog's pace.
Number 2: DON'T sneak right up on your dog and blast off a shot near them. This startling effect can get them started on the way to gun shyness. In addition, beginning the gun proofing process within this proximity, can damage their hearing and change how they feel about the sound of a gun shot.
*Side note, it's always important to practice firearm safety and muzzle awareness. NEVER point the barrel of a gun towards your dog or even in their general direction. Always treat a gun as loaded, even if you know it's not. If I have a gun in my hand and I am doing a demo, hunting, or training, I always check it regularly to see if it is loaded, that way I know for sure. I never take anyone else's word for it, especially if we are using live rounds.
Alright, let's move on to the "DO" column because it's much more fun. My first bit of advice, Number 1: DO make sure that you are using a blank pistol during gun proofing. Since you never know how your dog is going to react the first time, it's important to always use blank rounds. It's much safer for you, for them, and for anything that may be around you.
Number 2: DO make sure that you put quite a bit of space between you and your dog in the initial stages. It is much better to err on the side of caution until you can gauge your dog's level of acceptance of the sound. If your dog's tail tucks in between its legs, they cower, or they run back to your truck, stop immediately and rethink your approach. You're either way too close or the round you're using is way too powerful!
Number 3: Make sure to keep the sessions short in the beginning until your dog gets used to gunfire. Keep them fun, exciting, and most of all, positive!
Number 4: If you are unsure of how to complete the gun proofing process, or where to start, CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL. There is no shame in that, and believe me, your best buddy and hunting companion will thank you!
Gun proofing has so many applications beyond just the field. The weeks surrounding the 4th of July are when the most dogs go missing in the U.S. Every year, I brace myself for the flood of social media posts, flyers around town, and phone calls for lost dogs. The dogs get scared of the loud noises and either run straight out the door or they break through the fence. Don't let your four legged best friend become a statistic; keep them safe this 4th of July and invest in gun proofing and noise proofing with your local trainer! Reliable Retrievers offers gun proofing training sessions! Call us today to schedule an appointment at 559-287-3375 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.