Enriching Your GSP’s Life
You have probably heard the saying “A tired dog is a good dog”. Many behavior problems in a GSP’s life can be mitigated with exercise. And if you can tailor the exercise to what your dog was originally bred to do, you will have a very satisfied pup.
Now that the weather is getting nicer, I am spending more time outside with Chase. We are having construction work done at our house, and today was an exceptionally loud day. Although Chase did not seem stressed and he loves the workers, I was worried about the effect all that noise might have on him. It was certainly unpleasant for me.
It was my day off, so in the morning when the hammering started, I took Chase for a leisurely walk in the neighborhood. Then in the afternoon we went to the park for a long walk, and after dinner we went to a big open field for some bird “hunting”.
Chase’s father was a working hunting dog from field lines. Chase’s mother was a suburban pet whose biggest joy in life was retrieving tennis balls. I was hoping Chase would be like his mom so he would fit easily into suburban life, but that was not to be. As hard as I tried to get him focused on tennis balls, he prefers to pursue wildlife. I used to feel guilty that Chase would never experience the joy of pheasant or quail hunting and that I was depriving him because neither I nor my husband hunts.
But I soon realized that I was just projecting my human feelings onto my dog (a.k.a. anthropomorphizing). Anyone observing Chase would realize that he is very happy stalking and pointing at wildlife in suburbia. He does it all the time in my yard. We also do it together on our daily walks, sneaking up on unsuspecting birds, squirrels and bunnies. Of course, the trainer in me has to occasionally use these times to practice some basic obedience. I use the Premack Principle that I mentioned in a previous post when dealing with tough distractions (see “Training GSP’s to Listen”).
It is hard to find off leash opportunities where I live. I would love to live out in the country with several acres of property, but unfortunately it isn’t going to happen in this lifetime. Chase and I will often go “hunting” together at the park using a 30 ft line when no one else is around. Chase gets a big grin on his face and his stumpy tail wags non-stop as he sneaks up on a robin in the grass. After an hour of this (he is 7 after all and slowing down a little), we are both satisfied and happy. There is no greater joy for me than to watch Chase having fun doing what German Shorthaired Pointers do best.
Here is a video of us working on recalls while “hunting” birds: