Saturday, March 24, 2012

Teaching Natasha Rose "Whoa"

We are beginning Natasha's classes in Whoa. Below are videos on how we are teaching her. I'll be adding record of her progress here too. Chile does not have a large Field and Gun Dog community as they have in the USA, though there are many who hunt with dogs.  There are no Field and Gun Trials here either. Jorge picked up a DVD from Gun Dog Magazine: Training Pointing Dogs. We also subscribed to the magazine to help us along the way with Natasha Rose. We also turned to good ol' Google and YouTube to help fill the gaps.

Below are some of the resources we found on the internet.

"Whoa isn't for birds"

Teaching a pointing dog to hold point and stand birds with style and intensity depends on a solid foundation of the "Whoa" command. This command is also a prerequisite to training a dog to back, be steady to flush & shot, and stop on running birds. It may even prevent a dog from getting snakebit or running in front of a speeding car.
It’s important to understand that the place to teach "Whoa" is not in the field on birds. That is teaching the dog to hold point. Training a dog to hold point should come after the dog is comfortable with "Whoa" and when it responds with excellence the first time the command’s given. Holding point, backing and -the icing on the cake-steadiness to wing & shot are all built on the yard command "Whoa." "Whoa" is simply a command, or cue, instructing the dog to stop where it is and stay put at that spot until instructed otherwise. Attempting to teach a dog "Whoa" by leading it on a check cord to a planted bird and giving the command prematurely can create disastrous results such as blinking. 
As with most commands, trainers use a variety of methods to teach "Whoa" and with varying results. An individual trainer’s patience and ability to read a dog is important in creating a stylish response to the command. Terms such as the "rope-and-sling" method and "’Whoa post" as well as training tools like flank hitches and prong collars are only a sampling of things that have developed through the years in connection with "Whoa" training. Personally, I have borrowed, tweaked and improvised in developing my approach to teaching "Whoa." I use a combination of the "Whoa" board, the "Whoa" table, barrel training, the suitcase handle and remote training collars. 
Association and reinforcement-both positive and negative-are powerful learning tools for dogs. I prefer to make the command "Whoa" a positive one. I have seen too many dogs cringe in anticipation of something bad happening when they hear "Whoa." This is the result of trainers either having followed the command with too harsh a correction or having corrected the dog before it completely understood what the command meant. In either case the dog now associates punishment with "Whoa." Because holding point, backing and steadiness to wing & shot are taught by association and repetition in conjunction with "Whoa," the association with the command must be positive or there will be no foundation to build on. 
Much of my advanced training, such as holding point and steadiness, involves a "Whoa" board; therefore, I want the dog’s initial exposure to the board to be positive. A "Whoa" board is simply a piece of plywood roughly 2 x 3 feet. I like a board that can be raised four to six inches, so that later the dog will have to step up onto it. In advanced training, I teach the dog to remain on the board while birds walk around it or flush from remote launchers. Because dogs are place-oriented, it is much easier to teach the dog to remain steady at a specific place before progressing to an open-field situation....

My "Whoa" table is simply a 12-foot-long, 12-inch-wide plank. The plank can be nailed to sawhorses to raise it to approximately waist height. I then place the dog on the plank. The plank is narrow, so the dog will not move its feet. As when the dog is on the barrel, I stroke its tail up, prevent its head from moving and soothingly repeat "Whoa." My objective is to teach the dog to stand tall, with head erect and tail high.

Everything I have done to this point has taught the stationary dog to stay put and be comfortable with the word "Whoa." I have not yet taught the moving dog to stop on the command. I only begin this next step after the dog is comfortable remaining still on the table and barrel. To teach a moving dog to "Whoa," I use a "suitcase handle," which is made by tying a snap on both ends of a 36- to 40-inch piece of check cord. I run one end of the cord around the dog’s flank and through the snap. I run the other end around the dog’s neck and through that end’s snap. The result is a slip lead around the dog’s abdomen and another around its neck. This way I can pick the dog up off the ground with my "suitcase handle."

Click here to read more

Video examples of teaching the command, Whoa

Using the "Whoa Table"

Practicing the Whoa on the table

Another technique is to use ropes to teach the dog "Whoa" means "Don't move a muscle!" This technique is not demonstrated on the Gun Dog DVD, though it is alluded to when they mention there are various methods to teach this command.

Using ropes to teach Whoa

Taking the Whoa to the ground

What this space for photos of Natasha Rose's training:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Dilemma Between Breed Specific Laws and Dog Shows

File from the Wikimedia Commons
The FCI breed disposition characteristics for animals such as Dobermans and Mastiffs require the dogs to be friendly and calm; very devoted to the family it loves children.  Yet despite this, there is a trend in cities, counties, states, provinces and countries towards what is known as Breed-Specific Laws (BSL) in which a municipality bans or restricts the freedoms of dog owners with specific breeds of dogs considered dangerous. There are at least 50 breeds of dogs as well as mixed breeds that include targeted breeds named in the various laws in North America. Dogs that fall under these categories are not allowed into the locality or may need special entry authorization.

A recent example of how this plays out was experienced by a participant in Colombia's 2012 International Dog show unable to enter the country with his "dangerous" mastiff show dogs. The dogs remained in their crates at the airport until he was able to get officials of the Colombian Kennel Club to give special notification to the customs agents allowing the breeder a special entry for a limited time in the country.

According to the American Kennel Club, breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities. An owner intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes will simply be able to switch to another type of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed. Breed-specific legislation is opposed by the AKC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Interest Alliance, National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, and a host of national animal welfare organizations that have studied the issue and recognize that targeting breeds simply does not work.

  • Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. Breed identification requires expert knowledge of the individual breeds, placing great burden on local officials.
  • Breed-specific laws are unfair to responsible owners.
  • Breed-specific laws increase costs for the community. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds, and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds would be euthanized at the shelter.
  • In some instances, breed-specific laws have been overturned on constitutional grounds. Because proper identification of what dogs would be included is difficult or impossible, the law may be deemed unconstitutionally vague. It may also be found to involve the taking of property without due process.
  • Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all better ways to protect communities from dangerous animals.
  • Since dogs must be unaltered to participate in conformation dog show and other performance events, many responsible dog owners will be forced to give up a sport that both they and their canine companions enjoy.
The International Association of Canine Professionals statement (2006) reads in part:

The International Association of Canine Professionals strongly opposes legislation which discriminates against dogs and their owners by labeling certain dogs as "dangerous" or "vicious" based on breed or phenotype. Breed-specific legislation does not protect communities nor create a more responsible dog
owner. Instead it negatively affects many law abiding dog owners and dogs within the targeted breeds.  
Breed or breed type is only one factor which determines an individual dog’s temperament. Many other factors also influence behavior. In the case of aggressive acts by dogs, factors may include, but are not limited to: genetic predisposition; irresponsible handling; lack of animal management; general care;
improper socialization and training; poor housing conditions; physical ailment, and lack of education and supervision.  
A common and serious error in the ‘assumption of risk by breed’ is the inability to identify individual dogs by breed, according to an established breed standard or breed type. Purebred dogs which are registered with national clubs may or may not fit the ideal standard for their breed. As dogs are further distanced from the "ideal" standard by phenotype, especially in mixed breeds, it may become all but impossible for accurate identification.  

Both the IAC and AKC recommend the creation and enforcement of  laws which protect
responsible dog owners, penalize irresponsible dog owners on an individual basis while at the same time promote the safety of all. The FCI includes specific requirements for temperament of various dogs

Learn more and view cities, states, countries with BSLs. Make sure you have the required permissions to travel with your dog if it should fall under restriction.,  A  pro BSL public education website about dangerous dogs -- specifically pit bull type dogs.  View lists of U.S. States and their cities with Breed Specific Laws

ASPCA- Breed Specific Legislation

History of BSL:  Breed-Specific Legislation in the United States. by Linda S. Weiss, Michigan State University College of Law (2001) 

Planning for International Dog Show Tours

Today my fancy turns to international dog shows. I am to wondering what it would take to schlep all the necessary equipment AND Natasha Rose to an international dog show- that is one outside of Chile. As we are North Americans living in South America, raising a Vizsla from Argentina and showing her in Chile you could say we already were very internationally involved and to  bring her to show in our home in the USA would qualify her as participating in an international show!

And to think I stress about overweight on my one suitcase!

I do this once and Jorge will never  complain again about my 4 suitcases for a 3-day weekend

Ohh thank goodness Natasha Rose only needs a damp towel and a little nose cream to make her beautiful.
Ok plus a little brown shoe polish to cover the bald spot on her coat she got from a romp in the woods.

Watching our Chilean handler, Fernando Burgos' American Akita, Kenzo Von Dabuso  place in the Colombian International Show Friday, March 16, 2012:

Watch live video from TV Ci-Sud on

and anticipating our Argentinean  breeder, German Rodriguez  showing his Vizsla,  Dukesa Wild Can D Ijuma today I want to learn more about the prepping and paying involved in bringing a dog across borders to show internationally.

So while I wait to watch today's expositions live--
Watch live video from TV Ci-Sud on

I'm doing some investigation on the subject and will be collecting the information.  I will organize it later and set it up as a separate tab as I have planned for the gun dog info.

Please chime in here if you have any information,  insight, tips or warnings to add to my "research."

And best of luck to all in Colombia!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hunting & road trip survival with your dog

We discovered on our first day into the field with Natasha Rost that hitting the road with your dog is like trying to hit the road with your baby. Both need many items that will often take up more space than expected. To be better prepared for the next trip checked about to see what other items we should consider adding to our growing Travel with Natasha check list. So as a memo to self...

Whether on on the road for field training, trials or a hunt a here is a list of items to pack for your dog. Essentials include a portable kennel, food and water jug,  and their appropriate dishes. We use a collapsable dog water bowl and feeder made of nylon that zips together. Make sure you have enough food and water on hand especially if out for many days or if the day is hot.  Five gallons of fresh water will last the average dog about a week. Pack standard dog kibbles that your dog is accustomed to at home, but consider some other food items to stimulate a canine appetite provide added energy for when your dog is too tired to eat much or sometimes anything. A meat-based canned dog food or some savory chicken noodle soup full of fat and carbohydrates poured over kibbles will usually do the trick.   And don't forget treats to reward her in the field.

 Another essential is a first-aid kit and any meds they may be on. Discuss with your vet the items that may be needed for your kit: antibiotics, eye wash/drops, doggy aspirin to help relieve soreness from over exertion All of the essentials need to be quickly accessible. Other recommended items include de-skunking ingredients,  leash,  whistle,  training collar/transmitter/battery charger, chargers, dog towels, bed spread for motel bed, neoprene vest, chewing devices.  If the day (or evenings) are chilly you'll want to pack a dog coat or blanket and bedding.

A large rubber maid plastic waterproof container is ideal for a storage bin.  Or if your auto allows, building drawers into the back is a handy way to store items. Keep your storage bin or drawers stocked and ready to roll on moments notice. 

Other items you may want to toss in the box for you include ear plugs, dishes, forks and knives, bird bags or dog waste.

Once you have your dog bag or box packed then you need to make sure the actual travel  is easy, safe and calming for her. When we travel we keep Natasha in doggy seat belt.  Travel kennel/crate is another option. We have discovered that Natasha tends to get car sick so it is also best not to over feed/water her and be certain there is sufficient air flow. Paper towels or wipes for easy clean up come in handy for those times when she does become sick.
Natasha travels safely in her harness.
Photo by DC Martinez
Other recommendations include a Leatherman for when the dog happens to have a close encounter with a porcupine or cactus. 

Treat your dog as you would your own baby,  NEVER leave your dog in a closed car. Doing so when the weather is warm can literally be a death sentence for your pet. Five reasons why leaving a dog in a hot car can be deadly are:

  1. Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet.
  2. Even on seemingly mild days, an enclosed car can be deadly. In a Stanford University study, when it was 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature climbed to 116 degrees within one hour.
  3. Enclosed cars heat up quickly. In a study by San Francisco State University, when it was 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car rose to 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes.
  4. A dog's normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.
  5. Studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on a car's internal temperature.

If you plan to travel across the border with your hunting dogs, the customs agents might request a vet-signed copy of your dog’s shot records. You’ll need proof of rabies and other common inoculations to ensure a hassle-free crossing. 

Have Dog, Will Travel: Road Trips with Your Dog 
Must-Know Tips For Traveling With Hunting Dogs
Essential Gear for Traveling
Hunting Dog Travel Tips
Hot Cars Are Death Traps for Dogs

Colombia's dog show live now!

View the Circuit International CIB 2012 dog show live  
Circuit International CIB 2012 está transmitiendo desde Colombia EN VIVO!.

And here's to our handler, Fernando Burgos of Von Dabuso Akitas who is attending this show! Natasha Rose and I wish you Best of Show!

Online references for gun dog training

Natasha's training is now expanding from the show ring to also include the field, and gun-dog training. Trying to decide among friends and family just how to do this has been the greatest challenge, especially when time that must be focused on her training is limited by work, travel and experience.

 While Jorge is busy with  work and travel, I have been working with her on basic commands and have ventured a  into learning more about field and gun-dog training. I by no means am an expert and look forward to reading my first issue of Gun Dog Magazine as well as the field/gun dog books that Jorge will be bringing back to Chile with him from the USA. Field and gun dog training is not as prevalent in Chile as it is in the USA. 

To fill that gap until we are able to inform ourselves better I have been busy gathering my own resources/online bibliography on gun dog training. Many sites are commercial sites, either for products or puppies that also include tips on training. Others are blogs or articles associated with field and gun dog magazines. Below is the beginning of an annotated reference guide which is in random order right now and mostly from what I have been able to locate online. I will be adding more articles, references, e-books as I discover them on this page. Later I hope to placea more formalized reference guide on its own tab once it is developed a little further.  If any readers have other recommendations or comments on training please feel free to add it here in the comments. 

Google Books with sample pages available 
Weaver, R. (2007) Training your pointing dog for hunting and home. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpool Books, from Google Books,

Roebuck, K. C. (1983) Gun-Dog training: Pointing dogs, care and training of all pointing breeds. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpool Books, from Google Books,

Gun Dog Magazine ( Magazine of upland and waterfowl dogs
The magazine provides online the following sections:  Gear,  Breeds, Training, Video, and Store.
I found the video section very useful as a beginner. Videos are about 5 minutes long and show essentials in training and commands. For example click here to learn about the Double Marked Retrieve
There are also blogs on training experiences. I recently read "You're Bring Who? How to Handle a Friend's Dog"  given not only am I but others are working with Natasha. Another interesting article, Proper E-Collar Use While Hunting Pointers  gave me great insight on this ticklish topic.

 SportDOG Brand
While looking for information about e-collars, I discovered SportDOG Brand's website's article  Is Your Hunting Dog Ready for an E-collar . It also has other short General Training and Obedience Articles. However, because SportDog sells e-collars, each article discusses how to train using an e-collar product.

North American Gun Dog Association

North American Gun Dog Association (NAGDA) was formed to provide bird dog owners the opportunity to hunt upland birds in a competition format. Their events are held across the country at private hunt clubs. Competition events begin in September and ends with a national championship in April.

Gun Dog Training
This website is building a set of instruction sheets for both the novice and intermediate trainer. The author has also included an e-book on training. It's author also has a blog site that began in Dec. 2008. It appears to originate from the UK. I was not impressed with the information available at this time.

Gun Dogs Online
This impressive website provides  articles, video tips, talk radio, hunting supplies, dogs for sale, and photo gallery. It also has specific information or "Channels" including: Hunting Dog Training   |   Bird Hunting   |   Shooting Sports   |   Puppies   |   Health Care   |   Wildlife Conservation   |
Retriever Training   |   Pointing Dog Training   |   Spaniel Training   |   Waterfowl Hunting   |   Upland Bird Hunting. Each channel includes articles specific to that topic. The site also sells hunting and dog training equipment .

Fusion Vizslas
I really enjoy this site. The authors are founding members of Rocky Mountain Vizsla Club--"The Specialty Vizsla Club of Colorado", and members of the Vizsla Club of America. They are also members of the American Kennel Club's Breeder of Merit Program. This blog site is my inspiration. It has super articles and great photos. The Insight page includes links to articles they have published, including Training Vizslas and A Vizsla to Hunt With among many others. I really enjoyed reading Whoa and the City: Bird Dog Training City Slicker Style.

Online Vvideos for dog training (on YouTube or Training Websites) is a weekly video Gun dog training program where i send you a weekly Gun dog training video plus Documents to take you from novice to the best trained Gun dog on the shoot.  For all 4 Free pre-training videos go to

Bird planting tips Bird planting tips for pen-raised quail, chukar and pheasant for bird dog training.

Teaching Commands
Using rope:
Using table -

Gun Shyness
How to cure gun-shyness offers a straight forward step by step means of desensitizing the dog to loud gun shot noises.

Gun Dog Forums
All of these forums require registration to participate.
GunDogForum. com  also on FaceBook
Gundog and Bird Dog Training
GunDog Training Forum
Gun Dog Chat
Versatile HPR Continental Gundog Forum

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Natasha's first day of gun and field training

Today the sister and brother team of Natasha Rose and Procyon experienced their first day together in serious field and gun training. We spent the late morning working with both dogs.  Procy had a previous day's training with owner, Juan Carlos, but for Natasha the sound of the gun was a new experience for her. Working together Jorge would fire the shotgun in the air while Juan Carlos would toss a dummy fetch toy into the field. At first she flinched at the noise but once she realized she was expected to go find the training dummy she was quick on the scent.

Not only did the dogs learn so did we. We learned that just like preparing the baby bag for little 14 month old Peter who was enjoying a day 4-wheel walking, we needed to have just as much equipment. And next time we'll make sure we'll bring it all!

We all came home hot and tired. Poor Natasha however, had the brunt of it all. After a day in the sun and running pell-mell in the open fields the long ride back home took its toll as she suffered car sickness upon our arrival. Bless her heart though, she was able to keep from being sick until we opened up the back gate of the car.

Tonight she is cuddled up and recuperating from her day of fun and guns in the sun. The only problem is she fell asleep on Samson's bed and now he's a bit perplexed.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How does our Vizsla grow?

At the last show we were told one of the judges commented that Natasha was a wee bit small. Wondering about that comment we took to doing to her what we did with our children when they were young- marking the hallway wall to keep record of her growth.

Stand tall!
Notching the wall as we did with our children

At 6 months she stands 21 inches (53.5cm) at the shoulder.

According to AKC standards:
The ideal male is 22 to 24 inches at the highest point over the shoulder blades. The ideal female is 21 to 23 inches. Because the Vizsla is meant to be a medium-sized hunter, any dog measuring more than 1 ½ inches over or under these limits must be disqualified.
According to FC1 standards:
Dogs: 58 - 64 cm
Bitches: 54 - 60 cm
So ok... she's a half a cm short at half a year according to the FCI. Guess we just need to feed her some vitamines and to make sure she stands up straight and tall!

A First Place in Expo II March 3-4 2012 Santiago, Chile

Natasha's second exposition was held at Rancho Del Sol outside of Santiago, Chile.  She took first place in group 7 and two second places (see full results here).

Every young lady should have ribbons for her hair!
Photo by D. Martinez

A quick snippet of a video was shared by a friend who attended the show with her Doberman puppy, Quasar:

Photos from the show:
Note her extended and lovely gait!

Keeping an eye on Fernando- atta girl!


Running is her calling!

Loving it!

Monday, March 5, 2012


The following photos are found on the Kennel Club de Chile site: Galería: Pista Domingo Enero 2012

 “EXPOCAN DEL PACIFICO – COPA ANIVERSARIO KCC” , los días 14-15 de Enero del 2012,  3

Natasha Rose with handler, Fernando Burgos.
Photo by Kennel Club de Chile

Natasha Rose with handler, Fernando Burgos.
Photo by Kennel Club de Chile

Photos include Natasha Rose, our handler Fernando Burgos and other dogs in the show.

More photos we took of the event: