Monday, March 17, 2008

Double-T, Marks and Blinds, Marks

Today seemed an especially productive day of training, each dog getting exactly what that dog needed at this moment in the dog's development. The morning session (Series A) was at Fair Hill construction site, our permanent site for the double-T drill. The afternoon session (Series B, C, and D) was at the field next to Oaks Landfill, a field apparently rich in distracting scents and so useful for distraction-proofing.

The series were as follows:
  • Series A. Both dogs, double-T drill on the 110-yard backline
  • Series B. Laddie, short marks for distraction-proofing (40-60-80 yards)
  • Series C. Lumi, marks combined with blinds (80-100-120-140 yards)
  • Series D. Laddie, more short marks (80-100-120 yards)
Series A. This was our second session on the double-T drill. In an attempt to improve motivation, and also to give Lumi more practice lining straight to P2, I used a sequence of 14 retrieves with only two overs (we didn't pick up P1 or P3) and two backs.

In rereading Alice's suggestions for the double-T, I noticed that I had not been doing one thing she had suggested, occasionally calling the dogs back from a WS without casting them to a dummy. Today I included a couple of those in the sequence as well.

This was what I came up with:
  1. Thru
  2. Thru
  3. Q1
  4. Thru, then disciplined casting transition (DCT) on return
  5. Thru
  6. Q3
  7. WS at P, then recall
  8. Thru
  9. Right back
  10. Thru, then DCT on return
  11. Thru
  12. Left back
  13. WS at P, then recall
  14. Thru
As usual lately, I ran Laddie first with Lumi honoring, then put Laddie in the van to run Lumi.


Laddie didn't do too badly, but not as well as last time. He diverted to P1 on three of the intended "Thru's". He seemed confused and demotivated by the two recalls without a dummy. Since it seemed to be punishing, I think I'll save it in the future for things I want to discourage such as slipped whistles rather than when they're doing everything correctly. Today, he had no slipped whistles, as well as no WILs nor refused casts.


Lumi also had no WILs for the first time at 110 yards, no slipped whistles, no refused casts. However, Lumi's send-outs continuously slowed down. The DCTs do not seem to be a problem for either dog, and may even be reinforcing, but recall without a dummy is a killer.

On #14, I decided to send Lumi, then as soon as she took a couple of steps, break into a run beside her as though racing her to P2. She perked right up and galloped the rest of the way, leaving me behind. I think I'll try doing this intermittently in the future with both dogs, any time I see one of them slowing down on send-outs.

Series B. I set up three stations at 40-60-80 yards (indent configuration, the 40-yard mark in the center) for Nate to throw from at the Oaks field to work on distraction-proofing his returns on marks. We placed a chair at the 40-yard station, stickmen at the other two. I then had Nate stand well in front of each station and throw on a sharp angle back so that the articles fell at the same level as the chair and stickmen. He threw three birds and three dummies in the following sequence:
  1. A bird left to right at 40 yards
  2. A dummy right to left at 60 yards
  3. A bird left to right at 80 yards
  4. A dummy right to left at 80 yards
  5. A bird left to right at 60 yards
  6. A dummy right to left at 40 yards
Laddie showed slight RG as he got close to me with the birds. Everything else was great. In particular, he never veered toward Nate or anywhere else offline on any of the returns.

Series C. This was Lumi's first drill combining marks and blinds, following a diagram suggested by Alice. While I put Laddie in the van, I asked Nate to make up a course with four blinds at 80-100-120-140 yards in random sequence and at various angles of his choice. Next I placed the two stickmen and chair for Nate to throw from, positioned so that Lumi would have at least one TAL, one TTL, and one TOL. We then ran the sequence:
  1. Mark
  2. Blind
  3. Mark
  4. Blind
  5. Mark
  6. Blind
  7. Blind
Lumi did great. On the marks, she pinned every mark with no sign of RG. On the blinds, she had no slipped whistles, no refused casts.

Series D. Laddie did so well on Series C that I decided to capitalize on our success and run a similar drill at longer distances. I used the three shorter blind posts from Series C (80-100-120 yards), replacing the posts with the chair and stickmen. I had Nate throw bird, then dummy, then bird.

Laddie did even better in Series D than in Series B, with virtually no RG. As before, he did not run toward Nate nor any other diversion on any of his marks.

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