One of the things that I find most difficult in dog training is working alone where I need to deal with Patty, a gun and a bird all at the same time. 1) The bird is unpredictable and so the situation is dynamic and exciting for both Patty and me. 2) Patty should be predictable but when the excitement level is high, he might break. I need a hand on the e-collar controller in case I need to make a correction. 3) The gun is predictable but it takes two hands to mount it and fire it safely and accurately. I’ve only got two hands and with one on the controller, well, you get the picture.
Normally I like to have a training partner manage the gun while I focus on Patty. That’s most often Ron, but one day earlier this year he couldn’t make one of our sessions and I knew that I’d be working alone. I had wanted to plant a few birds and simulate a hunting situation for Patty but without that extra set of hands, I knew that it would be difficult. If Patty were to break on the flush, I might not be able to correct him at the right moment with both hands on the gun.
Ron suggested that I tape the controller to the shotgun forestock. That way my hand would be on it, even while mounting the gun. I decided to give it a try.
I have an old SportDog system and the controller is quite small, perfect for this application. I used masking tape so that it wouldn’t damage or leave a sticky residue on my shotgun. In just a few minutes I was ready to go.
It was a little awkward at first but I got used to it pretty quickly. With two hands on the gun I could still manage Patty pretty effectively. When he went on point, I tried to make sure that I could see him at all times while I tried to flush the bird. If he held true to his training and was steady to flush, I could focus on the bird and take the shot. If on the other hand, he broke on the flush, I could ignore the bird and give him a correction. The whole idea is to stay consistent with all of his earlier training.
Patty found several pheasants at the club that day. He broke on the first bird so I corrected him and let the big rooster fly away. On the next two, he held his ground so I shot and he got to retrieve them. I’ve tried this method out a few times since and although it’s not perfect, it works pretty well for me.