Lion Country Supply's Bird Dog Days - Rick Smith

I know a few people were waiting for a review of the Rick Smith seminar at Lion Country Safari's Bird Dog Days this past weekend.

Rick made it known right off the bat that he wasn't going to be able to cover very much in two, one hour sessions. He often said, "I'm telling you just enough to be dangerous." Rick brushed on the trained retrieve, backing, whoa, and his silent command system in general. The majority of his time was spent on preparing a dog for training. This included a talk on dogs as pack animals and the need for the handler to be a strong pack leader. Rick made an excellent point regarding individuals attempting to be a dominant pack leader while training, and yet allowing the dog to control the household. This sends confusion to the dog. Rick is very clear on what the rules are and what is expected. Dogs do not jump on him, do not demand attention from him, do not jump on furniture, ect. Rick will tell the dog when he is going to pet it, ect. Rick also talked about respect for the dog versus love for the dog, and the same in reverse. A dog does not listen because he loves you. A dog listens because he respects you.

Rick says that a bird dog needs to know three things... Go with us, come to us, and stand still. Standing still begins as early as 7 weeks with Rick "stacking" his puppies. This is the same philosphy that Clyde Vetter espoused during his last seminar with us. Rick feels that too many dogs simply fall apart when human hands are put on them. Rick believes that this is from too much rough housing, playing, or heavy handed corrections. Stacking at an early age prepares the dog to be handled and also teaches the dog to remain calm when handled. A calm dog can be trained. At the same time Smith is conditioning the dog to take restrictions by chaining him out. Rick feels that this teaches the young pup to give in to stimulation. In that case the stimulation would be the pressure of the collar on the dog's neck. Rick feels that once a dog learns to give into one form of stimulation he will be willing to give in to stimulation in other training excercises.

Rick brushed on his silent command system. Basically, Rick's philosphy is that a dog should never be told a command until after it knows what the command is. For example, Rick does not call a pup, clap his hands, and say come. Rick will put the pup on a check cord and gently give a series of tugs until the pup starts to him. At that time Rick will say come. By saying COME to a dog which is not interested in coming, or even resisting, you associate the command Come with that resistance.

Rick prefers the toe pinch to the ear pinch for the trained retrieve. The ear pinch is perfectly acceptible to Rick however. Unlike Clyde Vetter, Rick does not provide stimulation until the dog has the bumper in its mouth. Rick releases the stimulation when the dog begins its effort to get the dummy. Rick never uses treats in training.

Rick believes in teaching all commands away from birds. Rick also uses a check cord extensively to create a point of contact with the dog. Rick will then overlay that with the e-collar. With regards to E collars, Rick does 95% of his training on the lowest level a dog can feel. Rick states that using progressively heavier stimulation will desensatize the dog to the collar. Rick states that he only jumps up (say from a level 1 to a level 2 or 3) when he is getting non-compliance for a known command. After jumping up Rick goes back to the lower level, leaving the dog with the knowledge that the trainer can level jump at any time.

Going back to Rick's main philosphy, that a dog needs to know three things... Go with us, Come to us, and Stand still. Any steadiness issues are directly related to a crack in the foundation of teaching a dog to be still. Rick has recenlty written two articles on the Whoa Post for Pointing Dog Journal however he did not want to get into the Whoa Post with such little time.

Another demonstrator was Carol Lantienge, of Adirondack Goldens, in Mexico, New York. Carol has produced 11 Master Hunter Golden Retrievers, along with a slew of agility and therapy dogs. Carol brushed on the diamond drill and the wagon wheel drill. These drills teach dogs to take handling while doing retrieves.

On a side note, I encourage everybody to attend the event next year. This was an absolutely wonderful event. Rick remained on site for several hours and was extremely approachable. He took time to speak with anybody who had a question. Carol Lantienge was the same way. The staff at LCS was outstanding and they had several sales going on. A Benelli rep. was there and you were free to test fire any of the Benelli's. There was also a free, all you can eat, pig roast, and door prizes which included a new Benelli Nova and a Garmin Astro. There was also a bird dog challenge event at a local shooting preseve and a sporting clays tournament as well.

Re: Lion Country Supply's Bird Dog Days - Rick Smith

Thanks for the detailed summary. I found this, as well as what Rob posted after the Vetter seminar, to be very valuable to the club members who couldn't make it. After reading this I would be very interested in attending one of his full seminars.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer