Hit the Field | Purcellville, VA | Upland Dog Training

So since blizzard prep kind of took over last week along with training dogs, I never got around to sharing some photos from a recent upland training day.

I figured I would give everyone a break from the snow photos/status updates/ tweets and finally get around to blogging about our recent day spent with friends and bird dogs.

First up is Mac, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.   I knew of Mac before he was even named Mac (short for Potomac). I had been talking with his owner about possible breeds and then about Mac’s breeder and bringing a dog from CA. It has been great being part of this pups life since before he was born practically. He landed in a wonderful family who is committed to having a great family dog who also hunts.


We have taken things very slow with Mac in the field, all at his own speed as Griffons can be rather soft and slow to mature.  Considering this boy has been on birds less than 10 times he is doing awesome.

A couple sessions ago Mac decided he was a bird Maniac and ditched his beautiful point. There was nooooo holding him back, even with the check cord around his waist he was dragging me to the birds and just wanted them soooo bad.
So we went back to the drawing board, we put him through obedience training at my place which gave him a break from the field as we came up with a plan.  In the end we decided we would try him with some bird launchers (you put a game bird in a contraption that will launch the bird into the air with a push of a button) to see if we could get him to realize he has to stop or the bird flies.


It took 1 bird in a launcher being launched and he began to hold his point like a champ. SMART pup, he stood still for several minutes on the second bird and on the 3rd as well.

The next session with launchers had his owner beginning to walk in on the bird to flush it to further test Mac and his steadiness. He progressed beautifully so we decided we would try to shoot a bird over him the next outing.


Well the weather was not in our favor that day, it was nice and cold but WINDY. Wind is not an easy thing for a young green dog as it disperses the scent cone of the bird much more quickly and usually in erratic patterns.  This will make most young dogs doubt their nose and be soft in their points and less steady.  Mac was anything but, he honed in on the birds easily and he was very steady.  Sadly they were not cooperating in their flying pattern so we had to pass on the shots.  Next time Mac man, we will get you your birds.  Honestly watching him work out the wind and hold his point was a huge success for the day and even if we had planned to shoot a bird, we always have to do what’s best for the dog too.  Better to end on a good note when you can.


Next up my girl Luna


So I have been wanting to get Luna back into upland hunting for a while now, with the move last year and then the business this year it’s been hard to find the time.
As some of you know we did get into Dove hunting a little bit which has been great (even though I still haven’t managed to knock any down for her), both dogs love it.  But dove hunting is all about them waiting and then simply retrieving downed birds.  We haven’t done any real upland work for probably at least 4 or more years.  I got too busy working and training other people’s hunting dogs and she just got put on the back burner.  It’s been so long that I almost forgot how much I love watching her work, almost.

I finally decided to get her back out there, who cares that she just turned 8.  I hope to be able to take her out hunting myself eventually instead of just being the dog handler, which I’m hoping will allow us more hunting opportunities.


Though it’s been more than 4 years since we did any real field training, I did get her pretty far before we stopped. She had been through her fetch training and whoa (to stop) training. We were working on her being steady to flush, shot, and fall.  Most days she did a decent job we just never finished proofing her to the point that I could hunt with her myself and trust she would be steady.  Luna loves to hunt most anything, and it really brings out her independent stubborn side so I have to really outsmart her and be present in the field or she will try and bend the rules a bit.

All that being said, I did not have very high hopes of her “remembering” much of her training. We planted 2 pigeons in launchers for her to start. My plan was have no plan really.
I released her to hunt and she went to work, she was all business and worked the field and wind hard.  We had a hard time keeping up with her and keeping track of her in the rather tall cover (brings back hunt test memories).  I didn’t say a word to her outside of some simple direction changes. I mainly wanted to see what she was going to do to kind of assess where we were at so we could come up with a training game plan.


She rocked it, I was shocked… but yet I wasn’t because she has a track record for proving me wrong about things.  She held her points for both birds very well, enough that I could take a variety of pictures as I moved in on the birds. And I didn’t say a word to her, just waited to see what her choice would be, she made good choices.  And she was aces with her nose/scent work too.  That second picture was after she had just jumped a clump of grass and stopped dead in her tracks to point. Pretty awesome to watch.

I decided to end her session after 2 birds, she did great.  She knows what hunting and birds are about and I didn’t think it was fair to not be rewarded with a bird for such a job well done.  Though she also simply loves hunting.
Next time I think we will throw a check cord on for safety and mix some quail in so we have the opportunity to shoot if she does well again. Or we will simply begin to further steady her and then look at shooting as an option, but bottom line we need to have tools and plans in place to train towards our goals.

Next up Parker


Parker is owned by my friend and has been coming along nicely in the field.  He is working toward his JH title so it’s all about bird exposure and simulating hunt tests.  I LOVE how intense he is in this photo.


He hunted hard, we repeatedly had to jog to keep up with him. He was all business which is great to see from a young dog.

Good job Parker! He will have his title in no time.

Overall it was a great day in the field with the dogs and with friends.  Now we just need this blizzard to clear out so we can get back out there.  Looking at these pictures just makes it even harder to be patient.


Christmas Chews | Things we love


One of the dog’s favorite christmas traditions is getting a big 36 inch bully stick.  It’s always comical watching them tackle such a large chew, especially Wyatt as for the first year or two he would just chew the center in half instead of starting on an end.

I don’t let them eat the whole thing at once, they get 20-30 minute sessions  of chew time which seems to satisfy them plenty. Then I put them up until next time. These provide a tiny bit of extra mental challenge too as they figure out chewing angles.   The picture on the bottom right is after the 3 (or 4th, can’t remember) chew session.  So they are well worth the money.

I posted these pics on the SyriusDog Instagram and several people asks where I got them. I usually pick them up at a dog show from White Dog Bone but haven’t been able to make it to the usual local shows so we had to go to plan B.. a local feed store that happens to carry them.

But since not everyone has White Dog Bone at their shows I thought I would do some digging.

First off, if you haven’t checked out White Dog Bone you should.  They rock, lots of awesome chews, treats, foods, and toys. I love visiting with them at the shows and they are always very friendly and knowledgeable.  They carry 36″ bully sticks among many other favorite chews like thick chips, vanilla braided rings, cow and pig ears, pig and cow noses and lots of great treats. They started our chew addiction/hoarding train around here, not that the dogs mind.

It turns out another favorite chew company of ours Best Bully Sticks carries full cane bully sticks at a fantastic price of  $9.99!! That’s insane, I haven’t tried these yet but I totally plan to along with some others while I am at it.

For those who already use Chewy for food orders, they also carry a 36″ bully stick option as well. I may have to throw 2 of these on our next food order so I can try them. No idea why I haven’t thought to look for those on there before.

And last but not least, all you Amazon fans they carry them as well though it looks like their 36″ bully stick is out of stock?? I am surprised they don’t have more options.

There you have it, your pups can enjoy the wonder of a 36″ bully stick now too.  Happy shopping!!

Santa Photos | Purcellville, VA | Pet Photography

Wow, this fall flew past and here we are well into winter. There have been lots of training dogs, boarders and projects.  Outside of the christmas lights and decorations it doesn’t feel much like winter though. We have had some very warm weather (60’s and 70’s) this week which is crazy. I am secretly praying for some snow for christmas 😉

Despite the warm weather I decided to take some Santa pictures for a local Daycare that my friend works for.  Overall the shoot went very well thanks to all the wonderful help we had.

Here are some of my favorites.








Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!


River Fun | Shenandoah River, VA | Pet Photography

It’s currently a chilly 61 degrees out and raining cats and dogs.   Not my cup of tea weather wise, but it is fall after all.  On a day like today I thought it would be nice to look back on some summer time fun at the river.

My lil Vizsla fishSyriusDogriver-7260028
SyriusDogriver-7260178 SyriusDogriver-7260204
Walking river bottoms is hard work for those lil feetSyriusDogriver-7260228 wyatt-7260295
Chris and his buddy wyatt, love my two silly boys.

These photos were taken with my lil waterproof olympus tough camera, very handy for river outings.
Hope you all have a great day

Do you Flirt Pole?? | Dog Training

Do you have a dog who runs after the toy enthusiastically but then stands there and looks at you and says  “throw it again” without that whole bring back part happening?  Then a flirt pole may be your new best friend.

Not sure what a flirt pole is??

That flirt pole crazy dog is named Dyson a husky/lab/? mix who has done obedience and off leash training with me over the past couple months. He isn’t really a fan of fetching but does enjoy chasing the toy after you throw it so it’s no wonder he loves the flirt pole so much.  This is also a much healthier/safer game than the laser pointer so many are fans of. The downside of the laser pointer is that it can quickly turn into a light/reflection chasing game that you can’t officially end since we can’t really control the sun. This can lead to OCD and anxiety issues in dogs so it’s best to just not start with a laser pointer.

This is a great way to exercise your dog in tighter spaces.  It also can help safely fulfill a need to chase for those more prey driven dogs. You can even add obedience commands to the game which helps build impulse control and build your relationship as the one who provides great things for your dog.

I don’t worry about adding any commands outside of “Drop it” in the beginning. I want to build the drive/love up first.  Then it’s all about slowly adding requirements as their skills progress.  Dyson is pretty good about dropping the toy on command and will sit as well.  In the video you can see he broke once but then went back into the sit & wait even with the toy dangling about.

I made this flirt pole out of a horse lunge whip with a furry boa attached to the end. I have made them out of flexible pieces of bamboo or a hefty fishing pole in the past as well.  You want something in the flirt pole to have a bit of give for when the dog grabs the toy.  You can also buy them online

When you have a dog who is really motivated by something and you make it clear how they can gain that reward they so strongly desire they may surprise you with how willing they are to work.  This is a win win for both of you.

Crate Games | Food for Thought

Have a new puppy or a dog who doesn’t love their crate?  Not all is lost, turn crate time into a game.   Creating a positive association to the crate can help your dog feel more relaxed in the crate as well as turn it into a safe haven for your dog should stressful situations arise.  Crates are an amazing tool to have in your bag of dog training tools so it’s worth the time investment to make them more comfortable with the idea of a crate.

Here is a great lil video by Leerburg showing some ways to get your dog loving their crate

Here is another one with a cute lil pup named Zelda, based off the book by Susan Garrett called Crate Games

Part 2 with Zelda I just love the relationship these two have

And Part 3 with Zelda 

Now go have fun with your crate! Remember any time you do things like this you are both building your relationship with your dog and mentally working their brain.

Help! My Dog is Choking | Canine Heimlich | Dog Health

Syrius Dog VizslaI was talking to one of my friends recently and she told me about her dog choking and asked if there was was a heimlich maneuver for dogs.  There sure is!  Thankfully her dog is okay and a friend was there to help in removing the object which was a bottle cap of all things.

Before performing the Heimlich there are a couple things to try first.  And please if at all possible get your vet to show you these techniques.   There are also often local classes you can take that demonstrate typical first aid for dogs. The anatomy of a dog is different than a human and you must be careful to not cause more damage in your attempts to help.
If your dog is attempting to cough the object up on their own let them try for a couple moments, if they begin to wheeze, gasping for breath or pawing at their face it is time to step in.

1. Sweep the mouth
Open the mouth and look for a foreign object. You can gently pull the tongue forward  to gain a better view but be careful if the dog is conscious.  Regardless of consciousness, sweep your finger through the dog’s mouth in an effort to feel or dislodge any object. Use caution to avoid being bitten. And be careful not to push the object further down the throat.

2. Tilt/Lift the dog
If the dog is a large dog you can tilt the dog by lifting it by the back legs like a wheel barrow, while the front legs remain on the ground, see if gravity will help dislodge the object.
For a small dog you can actually lift them by the back legs/thighs and give a couple gentle shakes as well when off the ground.

3. Back Blows
While your dog is standing use the heel of your hand to perform 4-5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades.
If none of these work to dislodge the object the Heimlich is the next option
There are a couple ways to do this and it depends on the size of your dog usually.

For small dogs

  • Kneel behind the dog, with the dog facing away from you.
  • Put your arms around the dog’s waist.
  • Instead of making a fist, use a few knuckles of one hand and place them just below your dog’s last set of ribs on the soft part of the abdomen.
  • Place your other hand flat on the dog’s back to keep him steady.
  • Give a quick, hard poke with your knuckles.
  • Press in and up four to five times gently, in a thrusting motion. Do not repeat more than four to five times.
  • If the dog is lying down, place one hand on the back for support and use the other hand to squeeze the abdomen upwards and forwards.
  • Check the dog’s mouth and remove any objects that may have been dislodged with your fingers.

For Medium to Large Dogs

  • Stand behind the dog, with the dog facing away from you.
  • Put your arms around the dog’s waist.
  • Make a fist with one hand.
  • Place your fist (thumb side up) just below your dog’s last set of ribs on the soft part of the abdomen.
  • Wrap your other hand around that fist.
  • Push firmly in and up in a quick and rapid manner, just behind the rib cage and toward’s the dog’s backbone. Apply enough force to move the dog’s whole body.
  • If the obstruction is not dislodged try again for a maximum of four or five times.
  • If the dog is lying down, place one hand on the back for support and use the other hand to squeeze the abdomen upwards and forwards.
  • Check the dog’s mouth and remove any objects that may have been dislodges with your fingers.
    One variation of the Heimlich maneuver for dogs is to try chest thrusts.

If you are unable to dislodge the item, you may need to perform CPR to provide oxygen to the dog while someone rushes you to a veterinarian.

For the visual learners here are two great videos showing some of these methods in action, please bookmark them and review often so you are comfortable should something like this happen to your pet.

Dog Safety Tip : Choking by Melanie

Animal Emergency Center: Heimlich

I admit I didn’t know about this until a couple years ago either, so I imagine there are many out there who don’t know how to perform this procedure.
I was SO thankful I remembered how to perform this when miss Luna decided to swallow a big piece of her goose breast…. whole. She started acting funny, hunched over and pacing attempted to throw up but couldn’t. I could tell she could still breath but something was totally off. I finally helped her out with a thrust and she got up, threw up some thick white foam and then was totally normal. My guess is the piece was too big to pass into the stomach easily and thus it made her uncomfortable.

Another note, it’s best to gently practice some of these ideas with your pet so you can get familiar with the motions as well as continue to get your dog familiar with normal body manipulating.  Things like picking up dogs by their legs, opening their mouth, checking their stomachs and laying them on their side can turn a stressful situation into a much more stressful one for both dog and owner when they aren’t practiced ahead of time.  So do your dog a favor and practice.

Dove Hunt| Catlett VA | Throwback Thursday

syrius dog vizsla

This will forever remain one of my favorite images, wet dove feathers hanging from her mouth and all.   This to me represents an amazing day spent in the field with my dogs, where their passion for hunting and my passion for training came together in a wonderful display of teamwork.  Fun was had by all that day and I can’t wait to get back out in the field with them this season for more doves.


A very rare photo of the dogs AND myself… in camo no less 😉

For more on this day read Bring on the Doves, on my old blog  Vizsla Inspiration