Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Working on our TAN

The oppressive heat of summer seems to be fading a bit, and we've enjoyed training in the yard more often. Primarily right now I'm working on the recall (3 whistle blasts and/or the 'Here!' command), Whoa (as discussed in an earlier post) and we've been working in some gun sensitivity training.

At the UHWVA Specialty show in Michigan in May, there will be an opportunity to take part in the UKC Natural Ability test, called the TAN. The object of the TAN is to evaluate the natural hunting ability of the pointing breeds, and there are three criteria.

First Criteria: Hunting Instinct/Handling. The judge will evaluate the dog's enthusiasm and desire to search for birds. The handler can use verbal/whistle/hand commands to handle the dog but excessive use of commands results in failure of the test. So she needs to be enthusiastic about searching for birds, but generally be under control and recallable. I think Winnie will be okay on the enthusiasm front, and we have a lot of work to do on recall and other controls, but we have a lot of time too.

Second Criteria: Demonstration of Pointing Instinct. The dog must establish a point on at least one designated game bird during the TAN hunt, and hold the point for three seconds. I think if she can find a bird, she will point it and hold it for that long.

Third Criteria: Reaction to Gun Fire. The judge must determine that the dog is not gun shy. At the flushing of the game bird pointed by the dog, a starter pistol or shotgun will be fired. She can acknowledge the shot but gun shyness will not be allowed. With Sandy's help, I've been introducing her to the sound of .22 blanks from a distance, and closing that distance as she demonstrates she's okay with it. I think we'll be okay on this criteria, but again we have a long way to go. I just want to be really careful about this step.

So, pass or fail, the upcoming TAN will be very useful if for no other reason than to push me toward specific, challenging, yet attainable goals, with a timeline. Also, if she can do these things for the TAN test, she is absolutely ready to hunt with. She may not be everything the experienced bird hunter wants in a dog at that point, but if I can control her with a whistle, I know she will find and point birds. Will she retrieve one after I shoot it? Who knows, but we can work on that.


Anonymous said...

You have such a great plan and are so organized!!!Cassie just gave me a look that obedience plan doesn't stack up to Winnie's TAN plan...we'd better get movin'!!...Can't wait till May!!

Ed. said...

Oh wait till Sandy reads your comment. I am the KING of 'planning,' but it means little. I can make a list that makes it seem like I have a good plan, but I'm not nearly as good at following the plan!

Ed. said...

I wanted to add, it would be great if we could earn the TAN certification up in Michigan in front of so many Winnie supporters! But the journey, the training and practice leading up to it will be immensely beneficial for both of us. I hope she can do it - I hope *I* can do it. But pass or fail, I can tell you that in just setting these goals, we'll be a better team in May than we would otherwise be.