Friday, July 29, 2011

Field Trial Dog

If you haven't noticed by some of my previous blog posts, we're a little obsessed with our dog, Molly.  She is just over 1 year old, and is a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix.  We got her because we wanted a bird hunting dog, as well as a "family" dog.  And she fits the bill perfectly.

I originally wanted to take her to a dog trainer, to teach her the basics: sit, stay, come, heel, how to walk on a leash, etc.  Josh, however, was committed to training her himself.  I have to admit- I was worried he would get bored with it, and wouldn't commit the necessary time to her.  But we decided to give it a go.

The results have been amazing.  Josh STILL spends time with her almost every day, working on training. Molly can do all of the basics:  sit, stay, lay down, heel, walk on a leash.  But her retrieving skills are what really set her apart.  We can sit her down, go 100+ yards away, blow a duck call, fire a shotgun, throw a fake/real bird, say every "m" word possible, and even walk away and leave her, and that dog will not move from her spot.  She won't go after it until we say her name.  Its incredible to watch, really.  She is so darn focused!!  We can even throw two or three bumpers (training dummies) at a time in different directions, and she'll go after one, bring it back to your left side, sit next to you, and hold it in her mouth until you tell her "leave" and take it from her.  Then she'll go get the second one, and repeat.

Josh also taught her not to shake after retrieving from the water, which comes in very handy!  Instead, we'll throw something in the water, and she'll go get it, bring it your left side, etc., and then after you take the object from her, you can back away far enough to avoid getting soaked, and then tell her to shake off.  Its nice to be able to stay dry!

All of this training is geared towards duck hunting, and the skills she has learned are directly translated into hunting situations.  However, duck hunting is only a few short months out of the year.  What is there to do the rest of the year, you ask?

Field trials.

These competitions simulate hunting situations, and test each dog against a set of regulated retrieves/tests.  The problem we have found is most competitions require the dog to be purebred, which Molly is not.  However, we have found one organization that Molly can test in, and she will hopefully be competing this September (if Baby Davis hasn't arrived!).  It will be her first competition, and will more so just be a way to gauge her and our interest, and to see how she compares.

We (meaning mostly Josh) have stepped up her training, and I'm constantly impressed by how she performs.  If all goes as planned, I'll be able to videotape her test, and I'll be sure to post it on here!

I love that this is a hobby we can all do together, and that the kiddo can someday get into (with a pup of his own), if he's interested.  Love family hobbies!