This is the 6th blog in the Maple Media series. The intention of this series is to be used as a reference point as to what one can expect or do with their puppy at each stage of development. All puppies are individuals, so this should be used as a guideline and not a rulebook. To see all posts in this series, click here.
Weight: 28 lbs.
Maple is now 6-months-old, so I am going to be reviewing what we’ve been up to this past month! I found out the day after Maple turned 5-months-old that there will be an open spot for us to test in NAVHDA Natural Ability on Sunday, October 6th. We were 4th or 5th on the waiting list, so I wasn’t anticipating getting in, therefore we hadn’t been preparing for it. Since I found out with just a month before the test, this past month we have spent a lot more time with birds!
Maple’s first bird introductions consisted of some flightless quail to build drive. Once she got bold enough to hunt, grab and carry them, we started introducing her to loose quail that would fly. She was introduced to gunfire at that time, too. She has been doing great with quail, so a few weeks ago we introduce Positive Pigeons and pigeon launchers! The idea with using launchers is that you have the ability to flush the bird remotely. This gives you the ability to a) have great timing when they over-pressure the bird and b) allows you to flush the bird without the added pressure of you in front of them. Maple caught on to this concept quickly and has been holding her points for longer, knowing that if she makes any forward progress the bird will flush.
That’s where we’re at now, which is all she needs for Natural Ability! We have also introduced her to tracking, which is another component of the test. In the test, they will drop a male pheasant (without flight feathers) and allow him to just run. Then the dog must “track” the pheasant without simply hunting for it. We started this with Maple using pigeons and ducks to introduce her to the concept before introducing her to a big pheasant. Then we moved to tracking a dead pheasant and finally a running pheasant. Maple has done really well with this task and will hopefully be able to show off her skills on Sunday!
The final component of the Natural Ability test is swimming, which Maple loves! She has to swim twice in the test for a bumper. We have been swimming lots of different places and she has had no trouble with this part.
With all of the bird work we’ve been doing, Maple’s drive has really increased and she’s getting bolder/more independent. I am so glad I introduced the e-collar when I did because now she is easy to recall, even if she’s quite a ways out of sight. Her recall might not be as clean as it was for the test this weekend, but building her drive is more important at this stage.
Along with all of her bird work, Maple got to try lure coursing for the first time! We did a “fun run” at a Fast Cat event (she isn’t old enough to compete) and she really loved it! Our friend @moose_man_gsp got some really great photos of Maple tearin’ it up!
With our sights set on NA, we haven’t been working on much obedience this past month besides recall. After the test, she will be ready for more formal obedience, so stay tuned for our 6-month update which will include place and heel work! To learn more about the NAVHDA Natural Ability test, check out my post on it here.