Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holodeck Training

Holodeck Program
based on guidance from Alice Woodyard and Jody Baker


  • Bring birds for solo training.
  • Bring high-value treats.
  • Both dogs:
    • Two birds and two dummies on a long line for both dogs.
    • Short poorman marks to two birds and two dummies over bird scent.
  • White jacket.
  • Put collars on both dogs.
  • Load pockets: pistol, ammo, slip cord.
  • No triples until Lumi is solid on a few doubles at group training.
  • No running Lumi on a blind until we've progressed thru diversion drills in private training.
  • Run long gun last.
  • Use slip cord for flyers and honoring.
  • Cue "sit, mark" before first throw of each series.
  • Auto-whistle recall on the first two marks of each training day. Based on how Lumi does, consider switching to contingent whistle for the remaining marks of the day.
  • Evaluate whether Laddie can run some version of the set-up without going OOC. If not confident, don't run him.
  • If I decide to run him, run him with dummies for a couple of weeks.
  • No multiples, no blinds.
  • Run shortest to longest as singles.
  • Use slip cord for all marks.
  • Cue "sit, mark" before first throw of each series.
  • Auto-whistle recall on the first two marks of each training day. Based on how Laddie does, consider switching to contingent whistle for the remaining marks of the day.
  • Attempted break?
  • Head swinging, before or after throws? Which throws?
  • Did dog return uncued? Auto-whistle? Contingent whistle? Voice? Walk out?
  • If the dog did not come straight back, why (for example, RG, parading, Super D, zoomies, diversion)?
  • Pay for flyer if used.
Before Group Training

Each dog:
  1. One poorman mark across elbow-high water. Laddie cheated thru narrows both directions (I made no effort to handle), Lumi went straight both directions without handling.
  2. One poorman mark across shallow pond and into a clump of reeds.
  3. One poorman mark thru high cover.
Great pickups, enthusiastic send-outs and returns by both dogs on all marks. Only exception was some hesitancy on both dogs' part to re-enter water on return from #2. Not severe, both dogs responded to "here".

Series A

This was run as a triple by some dogs, in other ways by others. The marks were as follows:
  1. 70 yards thru high cover
  2. 120 yards thru high cover
  3. 210 yards across a channel, then thru a point of water with thick cover of reeds on the left
The configuration — pyramid:
  • #1 was 30° to the right of #3
  • #2 was 75° to the left of #3

Laddie, running as the first dog, ran #1, then #2 as singles with dummies. His ran straight to each dummy and picked it up immediately, then ran toward the thrower in each case. After I whistled and called repeatedly, he turned and then came straight back on the run. No parading, no visiting other stations.


Lumi ran the outer marks as a double. The throws were #2 (the memory-bird), then #1 (the go-bird). Then she ran #3 as a single.

#1 was a pigeon flyer, #2 and #3 were ducks.

#1 fell on the far side of a channel, Lumi being one of only two or three dogs this happened to. She hunted around on the near shore, apparently hoping to find something to retrieve there even though she knew where the flyer had landed. Not finding anything, she swam across and retrieved the flyer.

She ran #2 beautifully.

#3 was one of the most difficult marks Lumi has ever run. I thought she did wonderfully, though it wasn't perfect. At the SL, she had trouble finding the thrower, but unlike previous training days, once the thrower waved and called hey-heys, Lumi was able to spot him and keep her focus on him. Once released, she ran straight toward the fall, entered the water into the channel as soon as she reached it, and swam across. She then cheated around the point, wading thru the shallows and the reeds on the left. Nearly all other dogs tried to do the same thing, and in some cases the handlers whistled them to sit and then cast them into the water. I didn't try that. Cheating got her off line and required a hunt for the bird, but she needed no help finding the bird. She came back the same way she came, again entering the channel without hesitation, this time carrying the duck. She dropped the bird to shake when she came out of the water, then picked it up and came running.

Lumi was on a slip cord only for the double, because of the flyer. She did not attempt to break on any of the marks, and showed no hint of RG with any of the birds.

Between Series A and B

During the lunch break, I discussed Laddie's behavior after picking up dummies with one of the other trainers. He grabbed three bumpers and a pistol, and we walked to a nearby field to try an experiment. As I handled Laddie, Charlie threw walking singles:
  • At 50 yards, right to left, straight across rather than angling in or back
  • At 75 yards, left to right, angling slightly back
  • At 100 yards, right to left, with a sharp angle back
On the first throw, Laddie came straight back to me. On the second, Laddie took one step toward Charlie, then came running back. On the third, Laddie ran all the way to Charlie before turning to me and running back.

Charlie's observation: "Laddie's running toward the first white coat he sees."

Series B

This was another triple in a different part of the property. The marks were as follows:
  1. 150 yards, at higher elevation than the SL and thrown into high cover, with woods 50 yards to the left
  2. 170 yards, crossing a diagonal strip of high cover
  3. 310 yards, thru standing water, thrown from a mound obscued by trees into open but sunken ground not visible until the dog cleared a small ridge 290 yards from the SL
The SL was also on a mound, and the configuration was another pyramid:
  • #1 was 75° to the left of #3
  • #2 was 45° to the right of #3
The sight line between #1 and #3 was a barn 200 yards from the SL, with several carpenters at work on the siding.


Laddie again ran as the first dog, and ran all the marks as singles with bumpers: #1, then #2, then #3.

On #1, he ran straight to the fall, picked up the bumper, then ran past the thrower toward the woods. I ran out to him, and even though he had turned and come running toward me, I slipped on his lead, took the bumper, and walked him back to the SL.

On #2, after a laser mark, Laddie ran away from the SL at first, circled around the cover, and then raced back to me with the dummy. I don't know if he was freelancing or cheating around the cover.

On #3, Laddie ran straight out, picked the dummy up immediately, and ran straight back. During his return, I maintained a near continuous series of recall whistles and voice cues. I believe #3 is the longest mark Laddie has ever run. I have no idea why only on this last mark of the day, Laddie came straight back with the dummy.


Despite the distances, this was one of the easier triples we've seen with this group, and it seemed like a good opportunity for Lumi to try it as a triple. I had the marks, which were all ducks, thrown longest to shortest, then tried to have Lumi retrieve them in the reverse order.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out, but I don't think it was because Lumi had trouble memorizing all three falls. Instead, I think the problem was that she took her eyes off the long Gun after the gunshot (possibly because of echoes) and did not see the throw.

This did not happen with the other marks. Lumi kept her eyes on #2 until I turned to fact #1. Then she kept her eyes there until I sent her. She made the retrieves on #1 and #2 look easy.

When it was time to retrieve #3, she wouldn't look toward that Gun at first. I called for waves and noise, and then she began to stare out at the Gun, but when I tried to send her, she looked up at me. "Why are you sending me, Daddy? The guy hasn't thrown a bird yet." Then I asked for a silent re-throw, and Lumi did great on that last retrieve.

Though most people in our training group run the long bird first when they run it as a single, when Lumi was running singles, it made sense for her to run the long bird last.

But now that Lumi seems ready to run triples, but blew this one because she looked away from the long gun without watching the throw, it seems to me that it would make sense to have her begin running long guns first as singles. Once she begins to expect the long bird as a single and consistently keeps her eyes on the station until sent, we could then start combining the long bird with a second mark in the series as a double, or even with both other birds as a triple.

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