Well, I wasn’t going to write today, but I ended up taking more individual photos and thought I would post them for the people with reservations. There is also something I would like to briefly talk about. Many folks call or write asking about training information and if there are any particular training books, videos, or one method I use or that I would recommend and I would like to comment on this.
I am by no means a professional trainer–yet. I would like to be. I love working with the dogs. It is a dream to work dogs everyday and make a living at it and nothing else. I probably have just about every training book and video I can get my hands on. I have picked the brains of those that do know what they are talking about with years of experience and a hundred dogs under their belt. Not so long ago, I became obsessed with training the “perfect gun dog” and becoming a professional trainer. Well, I have found in my short time working with Llewellins that some methods work for some dogs and not one single person’s “method” has suited me–and my dogs–perfectly covering all situations and dog personalities. This all, also, depends on what you are trying to achieve. I am not trying to train a dog for field-trial competition. What I want my “finished” Llewellin to do might be different from what another wants from their’s. My particular intention with our Llewellin Setters is very simple, really. That being they be intelligent, biddable gun dogs that have a great nose, stylish point and working manner and that I can have a good “communicating” relationship with. One that I can take anywhere, with anybody or any other dog, to hunt upland birds and return home with the dog (and birds in the bag) and feel a satisfaction in the accomplishment of the working partnership of the day.
Now, I have nothing to do with a dog’s intelligence, biddability, nose, style, gait, etc.–that is only obtained through good breeding. I don’t even agree with the notion that we have much to do with “bringing out” the abilities of a good bird dog. We can certainly squash them, detain them, hold them back and most certainly ruin a good gun dog by going too fast, expecting too much too soon and being too harsh–that is certain. We can only give the dog the opportunities to become what it already is. The only thing I really have any control over is the communication and the relationship. If there is a good relationship with a gun dog and an understanding of their unique personalities and needs with a dog already born having some sense and inherited natural abilities, every thing else really comes quite easy.
Now, I know that a million folks would have very much to say about that statement and who am I? Well, I am not really anyone. I do not compete in field trials, I have not trained hundreds of dogs, not even a hand-full that many know about. What I have discovered and learned to be the most important thing I could have ever done was to read one single book. It was recommended by a friend who really does know her stuff. The book is, Gun Dog Sense and Sensibility by Wilson Stephens. It is not necessarily a “training” book, although it does contain a lot of training advice. It is a book about understanding a gun dog and sheds light on the inner workings and opens up the world of communicating with it. I will just quote a portion from the back cover of the book to explain,
“…So readers were not told the inner nature of gundogs, their behaviour patterns and reflexes, elements of management, and the man-dog communication system by which the recommended lessons can be taught. …Wilson Stephens now fills the gap by explaining what he has had to find out for himself the hard way, but would have been glad to have been told twenty years ago.”
It very much changed the manner in which I go about working dogs. I now am more interested in the communication and relationship with a dog. I learned more from that book than any other single source. It changed my attitude from one of controlling a dog to understanding and “working” a dog to allow it to become what it already is. Maybe you won’t agree. I am just saying that it is worth the $26.95 or so that you’ll pay and the time it takes to consume it. I recommend it highly–and especially to those of you wanting all the information you can get on how to train your gun dog puppy. Get the book and read it before you pick up your puppy! Also, I would like to suggest to anyone considering obtaining any gun dog puppy that you choose one of excellent pedigree in the first place. One from breeding stock that posses intelligence and the rest of the characteristics you desire in your hunting partner. You can’t teach them intelligence, instinct, style, etc., they are born with it or not.
One more excellent resource in particular to the Llewellin Setter breed of gundog is Keith Smith’s Blog. Here is someone with many years of expert experience and much useful advice worth paying attention to. I could spend months learning from him. Spend some time on his blog.
Okay, now, the puppy pictures: