Sunday, March 23, 2008

Disciplined Casting, Y-drill, Blinds

With Renee's mother in the hospital, I did not want to be away all day at group training. In addition, Nate and Bryan were unavailable to help today, so so the dogs and I had two solo training sessions. We went to Fair Hill for Series A in the morning, then to Sundown Park for Series B and C in the afternoon. The series were as follows:
  • Series A. Both dogs, second session of disciplined casting on the double-T course
  • Series B. Lumi, triple blind working on keyhole concept
  • Series C. Laddie, three cold blinds in what I call a Y-drill
Conditions. The day was sunny and cool with wind calm. Both locations were on lawn.

Series A. Because both dogs have been reliable on initial lines, whistle sits, and casting for some time, I decided to keep today's drill short and focused entirely on disciplined casting (DC), in which the dog is first sent to an article, and is then blown to a WS and cast after picking up the article. To focus on DC:
  • The course included a single at Q1, P1, P3, and Q3 with no poles. The dogs retrieved any of those.
  • The course included six dummies at P2.
  • All send-outs were thru-to-P2, with no WSs before the dog picked up a dummy at P2.
Here's the series I planned to use with both dogs:
  1. 40-yard backline (BL): Thru to P2, WS-on-return (WSOR) at P, over to P1, WS, thrown bird, delivery, send to bird
  2. 70-yard BL: Thru to P2, WSOR at Q, over to Q3, WS, thrown bird, delivery, send to bird
  3. 110-yard BL: Thru to P2, no stop on return, poorman single with a bird
  4. 110-yard BL: Thru to P2, WSOR at Q, over to Q1, WS, thrown bird, delivery, send to bird
  5. 110-yard BL: Thru to P2, WSOR at P, over to P3, WS, thrown bird, delivery, send to bird
  6. 110-yard BL: Thru to P2, no stop on return, poorman double with two birds
Although Laddie had shown complete reliability on WS when not carrying an article in previous T and double-T drills, he slipped 3-4 whistles when carrying a bird. Whe he did not stop on the first whistle, he always stopped when I then blew a second, more insistent whistle.

Lumi stopped without my whistling on her return from #3, probably based on the large percentage of WSORs we have been doing lately, and possibly also feeling stressed by the new concept of the DC. I called her in, threw a bird for her, and we repeated #3. She did the same thing. Then another repeat, and another. Finally, the fourth time we ran #3, she ran all the way out, picked up a dummy, and ran all the way back. I rewarded with food and a poorman single and called it quits.

Series B. This afternoon at Sundown Park, Laddie ran three Y-drills, my name for a drill in which Laddie is sent to a lining pole with a pinned orange dummy, then stopped and cast to different lining pole with an orange dummy to be retrieved. The idea is that if Laddie slips the whistle and attempts to retrieve the dummy he was originally sent to, the slipped whistle is punished by being unable to retrieve the dummy.

The course we ran today's Y-drill was as follows:
  • An orange dummy pinned with an orange lining pole at 60 yards
  • Three blinds with orange lining poles and orange dummies:
  1. 80 yards, 30° to the left of the line to the pinned dummy (PD)
  2. 120 yards, 15° to the left of the line to the PD
  3. 120 yards, 30° to the right of the line to the PD
Woods were to the right of our course, acting as suction on #3.

For #1, Laddie was sent to the PD, then stopped and cast to #1. He had no trouble with that.

For #2, Laddie was sent to the PD, then stopped and cast to #2. Instead of running to #2, he ran back to the pole at #1. I blew a WS before he reached #1, but he did not stop until he reached the pole. Then he stopped. Although this was a slipped whistle, I did not see it as an out-of-control behavior because he has trained dozens of times on pinball drills, and except for being stopped before picking up the pinned dummy, this was identical to a pinball drill.

For #3, I sent Laddie on a line to #3 but he was pulled to the right by the woods. He slowed but did not instantly stop on my whistle, so I blew again and this time he did stop. He then took the left angle back directly to #3.

It appears that Laddie's work on the T-drill makes Y-drill unnecessary, since the purpose of the pinned dummy is to punish a slipped whistle and Laddie never attempted to pick up the pinnned dummy. It also appears that we need to keep the blinds short and easy to make sure that Laddie's responsiveness to whistles strengthens, reinforced by success, rather than weakens from succeeding with incorrect responses.

Series C. This was a triple blind for Lumi, with orange dummies at 60-100-200 yards, in each case through a keyhole generally formed by trees on either side of the line to the blind. On #1, I placed the dummy in underbrush making it difficult to see until Lumi was close, and used no lining pole. On #3, a tree was to the left of the line to the blind, while the first-base fence for a baseball field was to the right of the blind.

Lumi had no slipped whistles on this course, but she had several refused casts and several returns to her old direction after initially taking a cast (which I believe is called scalloping). In addition, her slow speed and body language indicated stress, poor motivation, or both. She seemed confused by the lack of a lining pole on #1, and repeatedly entered the baseball field rather than taking the line between the tree and the fence.

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