Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Private Training: Blinds, T-drill, Marks, and Hip Pocket

Today we ran five series, two for Lumi and three for Laddie, all at Fair Hill construction site over a period of several hours, Series A and B solo, Series C, D, and E with Nate and Bryan:
  • Series A. Lumi triple blind, open field concept
  • Series B. Laddie T-drill, 80-yard backline, 12 dummies, patternizing on back spins
  • Series C. Laddie on six marks, a double and four singles
  • Series D. Lumi hip pocket drill
  • Series E. Laddie T-drill, 80-yard backline, 7 dummies, patternizing on back spins
Series A. Lumi's triple blind today:
  1. 90 yards, 30° to the left of #3
  2. 130 yards, 30° to the right of #3
  3. 200 yards
The course was a flat, featureless field where the orange dummies could be seen from the SL, and I used no lining poles. Since the orange dummies are difficult for a dog to see until the dog is close to them, the goal was to remove any visual targets, so that Lumi would continue to develop reinforcement history for depending entirely on my handling.

Lumi's performance seemed good, considering that various false targets were visible beyond each of the blinds:
  • #1: two angle backs
  • #2: three angle backs
  • #3: an angle back, two overs, and two more angle backs
Lumi seems to enjoy her blinds and came running back enthusiastically on each retrieve.

Series B. Laddie's first T-drill today, an 80-yard backline as in previous sessions.

I decided to try the course with no poles at "first and third base" (positions 1 and 3) to see whether that would reduce the number of wrong initial lines from our previous session.

Wanting to increase Laddie's endurance, I added two more dummies from our previous session for a total of twelve, and set up some patternizing challenges:
  1. Thru to pos 2
  2. Thru to pos 2
  3. WS at P, right back to pos 2
  4. WS at P, right back to pos 2
  5. WS at P, left back to pos 2
  6. WS at P, over to pos 1
  7. Thru to pos 2
  8. Thru to pos 2
  9. WS at P, left back to pos 2
  10. WS at P, left back to pos 2
  11. WS at P, right back to pos 2
  12. WS at P, over to pos 3
  • Fewer "no here" needed on wrong initial line than in previous session, whether because the lining poles had been removed from pos 1 and 3 or because Laddie would have trended toward more accurate initial lines anyway.
  • #5: After the WS, Laddie tried for pos 3 instead of taking the left back to pos 2. I stopped him with a second WS, cued "over" to P, then left back. He spun the wrong way but ran to pos 2 so I didn't stop him again.
  • #9: Laddie again spun wrong way on left back.
  • #10: Laddie spun wrong way on left back for third consecutive time. At that point, we went to the side of the course near the SL and ran three short left back casts with Laddie pre-positioned in a sit 10 yards in front of me.
  • #11: I again cued left back and this time Laddie spun correctly. Yay!
Although Laddie was responsive on all his WSs, after seven retrieves he began to be distracted at the SL. I decided to run only seven retrieves the next session.

Series C. Laddie on six marks, more than an hour after Series B. The same two stations were used for all the marks:
  • Bryan at 80 yards from the SL
  • Nate at 120 yards from the SL
Bryan was 45° to the right of Nate.

Each thrower threw a bird, then a dummy, then another bird. The sequence was as follows:
  1. A double with birds, Nate as #1, Bryan as #2 (the go-bird)
  2. Singles with dummies, first to Bryan, then to Nate; the dummies were thrown to land over the bird scent from #1
  3. Singles with birds, first to Bryan, then to Nate
Laddie turned on the afterburners for these marks. He showed minimal RG for the birds, ran good marks, and delivered well.

Series D. Lumi's first hip pocket drill, run with the same two stations as Series C. The drill, suggested by Alice, consisted of three doubles, in each case first to the short mark, then to the long one. The SL moved to the right as we progressed thru the three doubles:
  1. Same SL as Series C, with a 45° between the lines to the marks
  2. SL moved to the right, tightening the angle to about 20°
  3. SL moved to the right again, so that the following three points were in a straight line, forming a "hip pocket" double:
    • The SL
    • Bryan's fall
    • Nate
Lumi had no difficulty with double #1, which was run with birds.

On double #2, which was run with dummies, Lumi began by running straight to Bryan's dummy, did not pick it up, and started to run toward Nate. I called for help from Bryan, and with seeming reluctance, Lumi returned to Bryan's fall. I called "give it" and Lumi finally picked up the dummy and delivered it. She had no problem retrieving Nate's dummy.

On double #3, which was run with birds again, Lumi had no difficulty. In particular, she ran both lines on a laser, showing no suggestion that she was confused by the hip pocket picture.

As usual recently, Lumi exhibited no sign of resource guarding with any of the birds.

Series E. Laddie second T-drill today, same 80-yard backline. Because Laddie seemed to be losing motivation with so many T-drill retrieves, I reduced the number of retrieves to seven. This was the plan:
  1. WS at P, "over" to pole 1
  2. WS at P, "over" to pole 3
  3. Thru to pole 2
  4. Thru to pole 2
  5. WS at P, left back to pole 2
  6. WS at P, right back to pole 2
  7. Thru to 2
The intent was to get in some good quality T-drill work while reducing de-motivating factors:
  • We would get the dummies at poles 1 and 3 out of the picture immediately, perhaps reducing stress by not having them as diversions during the rest of the drill.
  • #1 and #2 would also give us a patternizing challenge to see if Laddie stopped at P even when I didn't cue it.
  • We would make three of the seven retrieves non-stop, perhaps reducing stress by not having to WS and not having to take casts (and possibly getting them wrong) so many times.
  • #3 and #4 would also give us a patternizing challenge to see if Laddie would then have any difficulty stopping on #5.
  • We would ask for one left back and one right back to confirm Laddie's accuracy with both of them.
  • We would end with a non-stop retrieve to make that Laddie's freshest memory of the T-drill, on the assumption that Laddie has more pleasant associations of non-stop send-outs then of those that require WSs and casts.
As it turned out, Laddie was completely responsive on all WSs, as he has been for some days, and he also went to the correct pole on all his casts. But as in the previous session, he spun the wrong direction on the first left back. Therefore, we took a remedial break of three short left backs between #5 and #6, then again cued a left back on #6, which Laddie took correctly.

Although Laddie seemed in good spirits, and his performance on #6 and #7 were accurate, by that time he began to show some loss of interest in the game. He began looking around when at heel, and he began chewing grass on his WSs.

I could try another 7-retrieve session, or reduce it to a 5-retrieve session next time. But instead, I think I'll reduce it to a single retrieve for the next two or three sessions, then really take our time increasing the number. The goal would be to quit before Laddie's ready to quit, when he's still having fun and looking forward to more, instead of after he's starting to lose interest.

No comments:

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