Monday, March 10, 2008

Blinds with Stickman, T-drills, DD TOL, and Marks with Stickmen

Today we tried out some ideas I had for our new stickmen, that is, retired gun racks dressed in white coveralls. The goal was to try to help each of the dogs with specific issues:
  • Lumi has a tendency to fixate on and be drawn toward distractions during blinds.
  • Laddie has, or had, a tendency to visit other stations after picking up marks.
We ended up running a total of four series during the day:
  • Series A. Both dogs: Triple blind with one stickman at Rolling Ridge (a new home development where Lumi ran triple blinds once before)
  • Series B. Both dogs: T-drills with an 80-yard backline at Fair Hill (the new home construction site that's our permanent site for T-drills)
  • Series C. Lumi: Diversion drill (DD), throws over the line to the pile (TOL) thrown left to right at Sundown Park
  • Series D. Both dogs: Marks at 160 yards
Series A. I set up a triple blind for Lumi and thought I'd let Laddie try it, too:
  1. 70 yards between two trees
  2. 120 yards 30° to the right of #1, between two trees and across a small creek
  3. 170 yards 45° to the right of #2, between two trees
The stickman was out 40 yards, 45° to the right of #3. The terrain was hilly, with low, dry, thick, clumpy cover.


From watching more advanced dogs in group training, I thought she did well. She lined #1, took two left angle backs and a right back for #2, and three left angle backs for #3. She didn't slip any whistles, and seemed to be greatly enjoying the game.


On #1, he slipped a whistle, then quickly found the dummy. The same thing happened on #2. On #3, he responded to a whistle, took a left angle back, and raced the last hundred yards to the dummy.

Based on whistle sits, Laddie is clearly not ready for blinds despite his breathtaking performance.

Here's what I mean by breathtaking. I've watched dogs running blinds at group training many times, and today, Lumi looked like a good dog running a blind. Laddie looked like a wild race horse running a blind.

Series B. Based on Laddie's performance in our last T-drill with a 60-yard backline, I felt he was ready for an 80-yard backline this time. Lumi had had difficulty with her initial lines at 60 yards, so I figured I'd set up the course for 80 yards and then move up as much as necessary for Lumi.

I used the same sequence for both dogs, again emphasizing the left back:
  1. WS, then left back to p2
  2. Thru to p2
  3. WS, then over to p1
  4. Thru to p2
  5. WS, then over to p3
  6. Thru to p2
  7. WS, then left back to p2
  8. Thru to p2
  9. WS, then right back to p2
  10. Thru to p2
  11. WS, then left back to p2
  12. Thru to p2

Lumi was unable to line to p2 from 80 yards, but interestingly, she was able to line to p2 from 70 yards, which was 10 yards longer than the 60 yard backline she was unable to line from in our previous session.

Lumi's only error in this sequence was that she interpreted #9 as an "over" to p1, possibly flash casting or possibly just not getting it correctly. I responded with quick WS, "over" back the other way, WS at P, and right back again. This time she took the cast correctly.


Laddie lined correctly from 80 yards on every send out. It was interesting to watch his eyebrows as sometimes, without turning his head, he checked left (I'd say "uh uh"), then right (again "uh uh"), and finally centered on the correct line ("good, that's it").

Laddie's only error in this sequence was that he tried to perform #9 as left back. I responded with "NO here", WS at P, and another right back. This time he took the cast correctly.

  • I've established a pattern for practicing send-outs from both heels that, combined with variations in what happens during the send-out, hopefully seems random to the dogs, yet is fairly easy for me to remember, so that I don't accidentally train a bias for one side. The pattern I'm using is two sends from right heel, then two sends from left heel.
  • I'm continuing to use extrinsic +R on every retrieve, one or more of "crash" (leap up and kiss me), one or two happy throws, a short but rowdy game of tug, and/or a bite of food.
  • Both dogs now seem fine with left back and need a bit more work with right back to get them balanced.
Series C. With Laddie in van, Nate and I ran Lumi in her first throw-over-line diversion drill (DD), with Nate throwing left to right at 30 yards, 45 yards, and 60 yards from the SL.

No WS or recast was needed in today's DD. The only problem was that on the last send-out, which was a send-out to the pile after Nate's throw at 60 yards, Lumi had a no-go and then a pop about 10 yards out. When I didn't give her any more information, she started prancing and backing up, as though she expected me to throw a tennis ball or something.

Apparently, this one time she forgot about the pile and/or thought that "back" meant to retrieve a thrown bird, and she knew there wasn't one out there at the moment. I called her to me, moved around a few feet in various directions, came back to the SL, and sent her again. This time, no problem.

Series D. With Nate set up with chair and pistol at 160 yards, I ran both dogs on various marks:
  1. Laddie, double, birds (Lumi honoring)
  2. Lumi, double, birds (Laddie broke when set up to honor, so brought back to van so Lumi could run)
  3. Lumi, two singles, dummies
  4. Laddie, two singles, dummies (Lumi honoring the remainder of the time)
  5. Laddie, two singles, birds
  6. Laddie, one single, dummy
For the first time, we used stickmen with these marks. One was 70 yards from the SL, 45° to the left of the line to Nate. The other was 100 yards from the SL, 45° to the right of the line to Nate.


Lumi had no difficulty with any of these marks nor with honoring in this context.


Laddie showed low-grade resource guarding with all birds, though very little on some of them. On one of the #4 marks and also on #6, Laddie ran toward Nate after picking up the dummy, then turned toward me when I called "NO". For some reason he did not do this with the other dummy or any of the thrown birds.

Although Laddie did not go out of control, I'd rather he not continue rehearsing these incorrect returns, so I think we need to run him on shorter marks where he comes straight back every time, and then build distance from there.

No comments:

[Note that entries are displayed from newest to oldest.]