Pounce began the Hillman Puppy Program
                                                                  Aug 10th (a little over 2 months old)                                                                  
                                                               December 5th she will be 6 months old
 


I am hesitant to jump into discussions involving Hillmann's program because
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 wasn't just the dogs that were different in competition.

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 excitement”.

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 excited atmosphere.

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 fair.
 

 
 
                        updated 11/24/14