I am hesitant to jump into discussions involving Hillmann's program
this is my first pup using that approach. Secondly, I've not done any
field trial competition and credibility is often measured in
accomplishments at that level. In addition, I am once again a
novice working a very different program. It is important to keep the
newness of this effort as a significant perspective.
Fortunately, I have a
strong mentor well versed in Hillmann's program that I can call anytime.
The key factor which
convinced me this was the way to go with Pounce was the concept that
“training a dog when they are high will make it possible to teach
her how to perform properly when she is high”. I've never
been content with how my other four dogs and I dealt with hunt test
anxiety. It was
improving...but very slowly. My assumption is enforcement was not
consistent and not nearly accurate enough to control a highly driven
dog (and they all fit that mold).
If a dog learns because
I am able to suppress her anxiety or “wandering desires” with
pressure and I am effective in doing so, what happens when she is
excited and the rules are different? Will she be able to function well or
loose it? My experience is relatively consistent with “loosing it” at
tests.....which essentially means “It was not the dog.”
In the past, I've created
numerous techniques to expose my dogs to difficult situations and attempted
to make them exciting while using pressure, a great deal of repetition,
multiple and varied exposures, dog vs. dog competition, fun and drills,
a healing stick, e-collar, etc. to enforce the standards. The dogs went
to hunt tests and discovered (very quickly) that pressure didn't "appear"
in the crucial moments. New expectations (which were rarely
improvements) surfaced. The dogs and I did not
deal with it very well. And I don't feel very good about the fact it
the dogs that were different in
From the dog's viewpoint
"If I have always been extremely excited when training and have learned
via rewards and positive reinforcement how to behave (when high), the
excitement of a hunt test is not unlike training......and most of all
the rules are essentially the same. I'm still responsive, focused and
under control because there is very little difference in levels of
Now I don't know for sure this is going to work for me and I surely know
my skill at this will be way less than Bill Hillmann's, but the logic of
it is sound. One aspect in the initial training of Pounce (which began
only a few months ago) is that my "reading" has improved a great
deal. I want this to work and have seen consistent and often impressive
progress everyday (in both of us). In all honesty,
I will admit to having
quickly caught myself going “off campus” a few times.
From what has been accomplished to date is that using Hillmann's program
will allow me to develop a responsive, focused hunt test (or more) dog
that will be easier to run because of working/training in a highly
The expectations will be sequentially presented and well engrained in a
consistent format using appropriate and properly timed
positive reinforcement (lead, praise, rewards and the e-collar). This
focus will be applied in every session.
The rationale is training and testing are congruent instead of
divergent. The “game” will not be “faster” than training because high
excitement becomes a common denominator.
Pounce has thrived by keeping training sessions consistent, exciting and