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    Thread: Picnic test

    1. #1
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      Picnic test

      Went to a picnic test yesterday and had some good runs. New retriever club that is my favorite so far. I did not see heavy use of training aids, only saw one guy I'd say was too rough with his dog, but that's a huge improvement over the last club. They had great equipment and ran a very efficient event. They called Linus, "Big Boy" but no one said he was fat. I appreciated that very much.

      He was an angel while waiting his turn and when we got to the line, he was on. The retrieves were very challenging for him with the distance and terrain. Much more challenging than we have been doing in training and more challenging than the WC test will be. He never hesitated, never went to the wrong blind, never even started to come back without the bird or bumper. He did, however, "ask for help" on two of the retrieves. He is very green and has slowly been learning and gaining confidence in himself. I trust that he will figure it out sooner rather than later. He ran hard and did not hesitate at the water (big bodies of high water, not quite deep enough to swim) and ran straight lines, which was awesome because I have never tried him in water when he had the option of going around. And did not try to socialize with the gunners other than looking at them like, "Hey, can you help me find that bird? I could have sworn is landed right here!" type stuff, which is a really big leap for him. Also, he was as excited about retrieving the bumpers as he was about the birds which is HUGE. He only stopped to pee twice on his way back, which drives me crazy, but is a really big improvement over last summer. All in all, based on his relative lack of experience, I was very happy with him. He had a wonderful attitude all day and had a great time!

      So, that was the good... Here is the bad...

      The day was warm -- over 70 degrees in an open field -- and the runs were not only physically challenging, but mentally as well. There were four blinds with gunners and we each had one run. So, four long and difficult retrieves in a row, which is another thing he is not used to. I knew he would get hot and I knew there were going to be challenges with that. So, despite already being wet, keeping him shaded, using his cool coat, and keeping him hydrated, on the way back on the fourth retrieve, while not going off course, he dropped the bird, laid down in the mucky water with frog legs and pulled himself around by his front claws for about for five seconds, then picked up the bird and brought it to hand. At least we all got a good laugh!

    2. #2
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      TuMicks's Avatar
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      Sounds like a good time was had by all.

      I know the breeders of field labs get a lot of grief for the poor coats. But since training and trialing (or Hunt Testing) takes place year round, over-heating is almost a bigger liability than hypothermia while hunting in the fall. Probably explains why undercoat almost doesn't exist on either of my dogs. Hunters have taken to putting neoprene vests on their dogs as a result of the trends. (Although... some how, they seem to shed as much hair as any lab!??)

      Even so, in the summer, we have to take every precaution and I think the black dogs suffer worse than the yellows.

      What is the cool coat to which you referred?

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      Sounds like a good time was had by all.

      I know the breeders of field labs get a lot of grief for the poor coats. But since training and trialing (or Hunt Testing) takes place year round, over-heating is almost a bigger liability than hypothermia while hunting in the fall. Probably explains why undercoat almost doesn't exist on either of my dogs. Hunters have taken to putting neoprene vests on their dogs as a result of the trends. (Although... some how, they seem to shed as much hair as any lab!??)

      Even so, in the summer, we have to take every precaution and I think the black dogs suffer worse than the yellows.

      What is the cool coat to which you referred?
      Do field breeders that breed trial dogs even consider coat? And, I always thought the purpose of an undercoat was insulation, both to stay warm and to cool off? If that is the case, wouldn't a dog without hair heat faster or be hotter? I'm honestly not sure what type of coat is better for heat. I do know my dogs do get very hot and want to lay in mud anytime it's over 50 degrees and they are exerting themselves.

      The coat is the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler. I bought one after seeing nearly all the obedience dogs at the specialty last year wearing them outside the ring. This is only my second time using them, and I have not tried it on my black dog yet. It does keep them cool, even when not wet. The flies are attracted to the color, FYI, which drove Linus nuts while we were standing around. The event site had a lot of cow pies, so lots of flies. Probably not as big of an issue elsewhere.

    4. #4
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      In all honesty, I don't think there has been any effort to actually breed for one coat or another. I think if there was an NFC that threw good pups, he'd be bred if he looked like a woolly mammoth or if he looked naked. But as it has happened over generations of field dogs, it seems to me the coat has thinned. And over the last 35-40 years I've been involved with labs, you see hunters buying more neoprene vests.

      I think (not sure) the undercoat on a dog is to keep him warmer. Did your dog seem more affected by the heat than the field bred dogs? BTW: The 4 long retrieves in a row is a pretty big piece of work for a young dog. I'm surprised the club didn't break it in to two series.

      Is the cool coat one of those things that you soak and wring out and have the dog lay on?

    5. #5
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      Glad you had a good time at the picnic test! Sorry I didn't make it out there this weekend. I just had so much going on that I couldn't escape. Sounds like a blast. I'm glad to hear Linus did great out there. I'll come watch you in action at the next one. I want to see what is involved with the event before I bring Chopper with me. I believe he still needs additional training before attending an event such as this one.

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      In all honesty, I don't think there has been any effort to actually breed for one coat or another. I think if there was an NFC that threw good pups, he'd be bred if he looked like a woolly mammoth or if he looked naked. But as it has happened over generations of field dogs, it seems to me the coat has thinned. And over the last 35-40 years I've been involved with labs, you see hunters buying more neoprene vests.

      I think (not sure) the undercoat on a dog is to keep him warmer. Did your dog seem more affected by the heat than the field bred dogs? BTW: The 4 long retrieves in a row is a pretty big piece of work for a young dog. I'm surprised the club didn't break it in to two series.

      Is the cool coat one of those things that you soak and wring out and have the dog lay on?
      Yeah, so most of the dogs at the event looked like small pointers with pitbull tails. One, a MH, was the oddest looking Lab I'd ever seen. At least 27-28" tall and I'd be surprised if he was 10" wide. He had an upright ewe neck and the gait of an Irish Wolfhound. His coat was long, but thin, with feathers like a poorly coated golden. You could count each rib and see each muscle from 20' away (he was not malnourished - just his build). I am sure that plenty of people said similar things about my dog...

      The undercoat is supposed to act as an insulator (like your house -- keeps in the heat or the cool) and help your dog regulate his temperature. From what I understand, anyway... I can't say if my dog heats up faster than field dogs. My dog is heavier. Even if he were in the same condition as the field Labs, he has way more bone. We also don't train like those dogs. The field Labs are "on" all the time and I think a lot of them would run until they couldn't run any longer. Apparently my guy is of the "work smarter not harder" camp. Or he is a true "first world dog". And yeah, those four retrieves in a row were a lot for him! He was a trooper, though. Long retrieves, the stress, difficult terrain, cow pies, about six blinds with a bunch of guys, bumpers and pigeons when he is not a bumper fan and prefers ducks, and our first 70 degree + day in over six months. He's a lot of fun and you know, he gets the job done, so can't complain.

      The coat reflects the sun and yes, you can soak it, let it drip for a few seconds (don't wring it), then put it on the dog. They do not get wet and they wear the coat much like a horse does. I'm looking forward to using the coats more this summer.

    7. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by ChoppersDad View Post
      Glad you had a good time at the picnic test! Sorry I didn't make it out there this weekend. I just had so much going on that I couldn't escape. Sounds like a blast. I'm glad to hear Linus did great out there. I'll come watch you in action at the next one. I want to see what is involved with the event before I bring Chopper with me. I believe he still needs additional training before attending an event such as this one.
      I'm sorry you could not make it! There is another one this weekend, I think Saturday, on the east side of the island. Different club. You can just go and hang out. You don't have to actively participate. It is not a formal event by any means and they encourage people with young dogs and pups to come out, socialize, get used to the scene. There was a one year old conformation Lab there who had never seen water, been in a field, heard gunshots, or been around birds. They teased her with a fresh kill, got her to pick it up from maybe five feet, let her hold onto it, praised her, then she spent the rest of the afternoon watching. They figure out really fast that gunshot = bird falls = run out and get it. It clicks in their heads before they would even know what to do if they were on the line. After the pup figured it out from watching, the owner had to tie the dog's leash around her waist to keep her from getting away from her because she was bolting each time the gun went off. Anyway, that's what these events are for!

    8. #8
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      -2015-04-19-13-02-25-jpg

      This is my 15 month old boy, so even at this young age he doesn't look like a pointer. Anyway.....

      Anyway, just here to comment about the coat. I've had good luck with the Chilly Buddy coat. They are lighter and don't have to be wet to work, although they can be. They reflect tons of light, a great option for black dogs.

    9. #9
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      Picnic trials are great for introducing both dogs and handlers to the game. Just being around a group of dogs and having to wait your turn gives the dog the idea of what a test/trial is all about. We call it the hurry up a wait factor. Do they have people who set up the tests and judge, giving feed back at the end of the day? At one time clubs up here even gave out ribbons at their picnic days.
      Next weekend we are starting to work with a group getting ready for their first WC tests. We are actually going to work indoors for the first session getting the dogs familiar with birds and holding blinds and just getting the feel for birdieness. One of the things we plan is to go over what the judges will be looking for at a test when you come to the line with your dog.

      Indybindy your boy looks great and so does the concept pond behind him.

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by indybindy View Post
      -2015-04-19-13-02-25-jpg

      This is my 15 month old boy, so even at this young age he doesn't look like a pointer. Anyway.....

      Anyway, just here to comment about the coat. I've had good luck with the Chilly Buddy coat. They are lighter and don't have to be wet to work, although they can be. They reflect tons of light, a great option for black dogs.
      He's a nice looking field Lab!

      The Chilly Buddy was another coat I looked into and heard good things about.

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