Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trust Your Scout

The Scout’s role in many cases is as critical as the handler. Though according to the rules they are not to "handle" the dog, but supposed to be there to help find a dog on point. Reality is far different out of the site of handler and judge. 

When a dog is out of view left or right it is the responsibility of the Scout to locate the dog. If he/she by chance happens to “push” your dog out into the front, well then they have done a good job.

It sounds like cheating, and perhaps in the most technical of senses it is, but it is also very much part of the game as scout, handler, and dog are there painting a picture for the judge with the idea that the prettiest picture wins. That prettiest picture happens to be a dog working out front between 10 and 2 o’clock, covering the entire grounds in the allotted time. (no sooner or later) Along with independently hunting, finding birds, and being steady to wing and shot.

Problems is this involves dogs which have been bread to hunt and the best hunting is not always out front between 10 & 2 of the handler, and the dogs know this so they go further side to side than one might want. This presents the handler with a puzzle. Does he/she hack on their dog to keep them in the correct position? Or do they allow their dog to be out of view for reasonable amounts of time trusting the Scout to return the dog seamlessly?

If you are going to win then you are going to have to rely on the Scout and continue forward as if nothing is wrong when your dog goes too far right or left.

Of course over time dogs become patterned to run out front in the proper manner if given hundreds of hours of training on field trial like grounds, but for us that don’t have the time or money to do this we have to… trust our scout.

Again there is a fine line between cheating and properly scouting, but I have heard of scouts actually picking a dog up onto their saddle and riding it to the front and turning it loose again. I don’t agree with doing that, but I can tell you that a scout is a very effective moving boundary when a dog goes the wrong direction. And a Scout is 100% critical when a dog misses a turn in the course to go straight.

In the case of a turn where the dog goes straight the handler should turn early. By turning early he has now made it where what once was in front is now behind and to the side allowing the Scout to move into the area the dog was last running. After turning early, create a little distance, then slow down so the Scout can create that boundary to turn the dog back onto the course.

That’s just one tip. There are a lot of ways the Scout and Handler can work together, but the first thing is to work with someone you trust. There is nothing like continuing forward but wondering if the Scout will find the dog. It makes you nervous and that comes through to the judges. More than being in perfect control of your dog it is important to be in control of you. A good Scout that you can trust helps to be just that.

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