We recently hosted Bird Dog Hall of Famer and renowned trainer/clinician Rick Smith for the 6th-consecutive year at QK. This year we offered his 3-day Intermediate seminar followed by a 2-day Advanced Handling seminar over Mother’s Day Weekend. The weather was a challenge with temps in the low 40s, high winds, intermittent showers, and some driving rain but we endured and had a fabulous time!
As always, Rick brings us a lifetime of knowledge and dog training experience and his stories, explanations, and coaching allows each clinic participant to target their training needs. As Rick often says, “Watch this, because even if your dog is not doing it now, it most likely will at some point!”. Learn from every dog.
Rick has so much to share with each participant and over the course of the clinics, it was obvious how each handler and dog stepped up their game and improved. This clinic was particularly impressive because most of the 12 handlers were not only well versed with Rick’s Foundation method, the handlers and their dogs were some of the best and most experienced group we have hosted yet. This meant we really went into details, fine training nuances and new information that Rick doesn’t often get to share because the dogs and handlers are not ready.
We started with tie out chain work getting the dog’s minds right, calm and focused. With repetition of chain work, Wonderlead handling drills, and check cord drills we were able to work a group of 12 dogs in a pack to practice steadiness, focusing on their handlers, chaos drills with lots of distractions and finally bird drills. This format of patience work, obedience, honor drills and finally field drills was very successful and each round we were able to push the dogs harder and gain better fieldwork. The dogs looked great, stylish and confident!
We never sat still for long and we were either in a class lecture, working obedience or working field drills. We traveled off the QK grounds to Sugar Brook Field Trial area for brace mate work, handling drills and bird drills. The dogs were always on their toes never knowing what we were going to throw at them next, but this succession of consistent practice only got them all sharper and more willing to work as our teammates. When the dogs were not running in a brace, they were held accountable to stand (while loose) still back at the breakaway line and wait their turns. There was some serious patience taking place and the dogs were tested and challenged with this format.
After attending nearly 20 of Rick’s seminars I am amazed how much I learn every time he teaches. For those of you that want a better hunting dog or competitive field dog, whether it is a pointer, flusher or retriever, I highly recommend taking a Rick Smith Seminar. It is some of the best money spent on dog training and Rick travels the country teaching these clinics nearly every other weekend. His commitment and desire to share his knowledge along with his gift for teaching make these events an experience that any true dog lover will relish. Most importantly, Rick has an aspiration to make each of us better through stepping up our game. Rick’s attention to detail through patience chain work, approaching and handling your dog on and off leash, and your overall consistency is the key to maintaining a balanced dog. Most of the actual training is never around birds. Once the Foundation is taught and the skills practiced consistently, the dog knows their job and the field work becomes an incredible partnership of silent communication. We are so proud to host Rick each year and not only to offer these clinics to our clients, but we also embrace Rick’s coaching and mentoring with the QK trainers. For 6 years we have been diligently following Rick’s methods and our QK standard has become well known. Rick’s mentorship and guidance have taught us skills and techniques through thoughtful, consistent Foundation work and we are getting more work done with the dogs than ever before. It is an amazing process and the dogs thrive with this format. As Rick Smith says “Never Settle”!