Manners are great, but if the dog is in pain you are dealing with a potentially different animal. I've had Basenjis that were stoic…..helping them when they were hurting wasn't difficult......and I've also had the ones that go nuts when in pain, trying to bite anything and anyone that comes close. My show girl, Tamu, was like that.
Oh, definitely. For me, part of the whole process is teaching emotional self-regulation, too– teaching to recognize a state of mental calm and self-rewarding for relaxing into stressful situations. That was actually how I found B&T training, the "perception modification" work seems to help them learn to flip that mental switch. Layering that with manners work and building distractions, stressors, etc., will hopefully build you an animal that has the tools not to panic in emergencies. But that thing about 100% reliability is always the catch.
Me, personally, I think there are very few dogs who would not break for anything on planet earth. My big dog sat calmly for a spinal tap, but might not have for a more extensive surgical procedure. However, he having had the success with the spinal tap, I would predict a higher likelihood of success with the next more stressful/painful experience. Same with recall work. I have known dogs with massive drive who were proofed through every conceivable distraction (and a whole lot of inconceivable ones), and demonstrated extreme reliability in highly novel situations, but they are certainly autonomous beings even so, and I would hazard a guess that every dog has a breaking point somewhere when he could decide that the alternative motivation outweighs his motivation to work as requested. It may be a high enough threshold that you never encounter it in the real world, but I would guess it's there. My job is just to keep coming up with novel ways to challenge the threshold =).
Thanks for the nice feedback, I am really interested to see how this all plays out--I have wanted to train a primitive-type hunting dog for yeaaaaaaars. I have had to put falconry practice on hold for work stuff, so this seems like a perfect opportunity to try building the canine half of the team over the next couple years!
We had a big first morning. I'm not supposed to be doing "formal" training, but in order for us to go out to the park for a scamper, she had to go back into the travel crate, which she definitely did not want to do. So we played a game with desensitizing her to going in and out of the crate. It turns out she is not terribly food-motivated even when really hungry, so that did not go as quickly as I would have liked. But it did work well enough to get her in and out the door, and we'll work more on it later today.
Anyway we went to a different park this morning, also double-fenced. We had pretty much the same experience as yesterday, though her following radius was definitely larger. She seemed to feel more confident about ranging five or six feet to either side, and letting me get farther ahead before running to catch up. One thing that was really fun to see was her demonstrating all the tools she has in her kit, so to speak. She does that "periscoping" thing that podencos do, standing up to get a better visual on something. She also quarters the field naturally, tracks, etc. and certainly has ample pretty drive. I am guessing the hardest part will be motivating her to keep playing along with these "boring" bonding games until I can put those hunting tools into a working context and show her when and where to use them... Hopefully BEFORE she gets self-rewarded for trying them out inappropriately ;0). I am not at all confident in my timing skills, and much of the marking behavior stuff is rusty for me so... hopefully I don't screw it up too badly.