As Murph nears six months of age, it’s time to take stock of what we have accomplished together. Right now he can do the following with very good (very good does not mean perfect) consistency:
He heels perfectly on lead (no pulling) and near perfectly off lead. Only a major distraction will pull him away, but I can now get him back with a sharp “heel” command.
He will sit and stay in place for a significant period of time, until released. I have walked across a field as far as 100 yards and he will not move until I blow the whistle. We do this everyday at the end of our drills. I have also had him sit next to me consistently for more than 30 minutes without lifting his butt from the ground until I release him.
When he is at distance he will now sit to the whistle and I can now call him from distance and stop him with the sit whistle.
He is steady at sit no matter what I throw around him. Everyday, I throw at least 10 dummies all around him and he does not move. I can call him to heel and he will come, ignoring all the dummies.
He will now sit to flush on lead. I walk with him and take a dummy and throw it in front of him. He will now sit immediately with no whistle or pull on the lead. Today we worked off lead for the first time, and I reinforced with the whistle. He responded perfectly.
And he now kennels on command.
We now have the tools for success in the field, and they will only get better with time. I intend to continue reinforcing these basic skills, but now there will be some retrieving involved. He has had a few retrieves and does them well. In fact, I have given him one very long, but simple blind each day this past week at the end of the session and he nailed every one of them.
I put him at sit, threw the dummy so he could mark it and then called him to heel and walked away for at least 50 to 75 yards. I changed direction a few times to practice staying at heel and eventually turned and faced the proper direction and put him at sit. What I wanted to see was calm and so far I’ve gotten it and yet when I send him, he goes with great enthusiasm. Great combination.
This next week in addition to the constant reinforcing of the basic skills, I intend to introduce him to some simple short multiple blinds, probably 30-40 feet along the straight edge of some tall grass to begin the process of lining. Should be fun.