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When I first started with Bucky - the handsome guy in the photo - everyone said I needed to Force Fetch him if I wanted to succeed in the sport.
Well, I didn't believe that. I thought I could use praise and some crafty encouragement to get a reliable retrieve.
And while Bucky was a really good boy - I quickly got frustrated at our lack of reliability. At our very first Hunt Test, he brought the first bird all the way back to me, spit it at my feet and quickly turned to look for the next bird to get shot! Fail.
That led me on a very long journey with lots of downs and very few ups. Bucky endured yelling, ear pinching and patiently helped me figure out clicker training.
But nine years later, and 3 more dogs, I can now say I'm proud of the way I train and I know my training works!
Three great things happened -
1. Karen Pryor Academy's intensive professional program taught me the science and applications of classical and operant conditioning - methods that work with all animals.
2. Susan Garrett's Recaller program and Inner Circle coaching program taught me how to create amazingly effective and fun training games to convert the science into real skills! That was huge!
3. Going to more than 70 Hunt Tests and Field Trials - not only learning the game, but learning from the people - the judges and the long time elders who so generously share their knowledge!
And I guess I have to add a 4th. Learning to have the courage to ask land owners permission to use their land for training. Having the courage to drive 3 hours each way to use a good pond. Not to mention the courage to fail. Because you know what - failing is an awesome teacher!!!!
With all of that, I have the courage to now share what I've learned with you. Because I trust it and I know it really works, IF you put the effort in!
With all my heart, I hope you benefit from this journey as I have - learning to communicate with dogs and people in a more kind, clear and rewarding way!