Monday, March 3, 2008

Private Training: T-Drill, Diversion Drill, Marks, and Blinds

This afternoon the dogs ran four series, two for Laddie, two for Lumi. Because I was concerned with a possible drop in Laddie's motivation for training that might have resulted from a steady diet of T-drills, I had him retrieve marks with no handling for one series instead of two series of T-drills. The day's series were as follows:
  • Series A. Laddie T-drill at our Fair Hill site
  • Series B. Lumi diversion drill, for the first time with throws-away-from-line (TAL), also at the Fair Hill site
  • Series C. Four 80-yard marks for Laddie, also at the Fair Hill site
  • Series D. Lumi triple blind at Sundown Park
Conditions. Sunny, temps in the mid-60s.

Series A. Building on yesterday's success, for today's T-drill we lengthened the backline once again while staying with 10 retrieves. Today's T-drill was 60 yards from SL to P, 20 yards longer than yesterday. With six dummies at pole 2 and two each at poles 1 and 3, the patternizing challenge was as follows:
  1. Thru to pole 2
  2. WS at P, "over" to pole 1
  3. WS at P, "over" to pole 1
  4. WS at P, right back to pole 2
  5. Thru to pole 2
  6. Thru to pole 2
  7. WS at P, "over" to pole 3
  8. WS at P, "over" to pole 3
  9. WS at P, left back to pole 2
  10. Thru to pole 2
Laddie was responsive on every WS, which for us, is the primary criteria for success with these drills.

Laddie flash cast on #4 and #9, responding as if I were cueing "over" instead of "back". I have gotten into the habit of using all silent casts, and perhaps it's time I began adding verbal cues to the visual ones. On the other hand, maybe it would be better if I did not do that, so that Laddie would learn to be wait to make sure he's seen the whole arm movement before taking off.

When he refused (went the wrong way) on #4, I called him and resent him, and he took the cast correctly the second time. When he refused on #9, I did the same thing, but the second time, he made the same mistake. This time, I used a quick WS and tried to cast him back to P, but he took the "over" as an angle back and ran directly to pole 2, which was the correct target although I had planned to have stop at P first. I decided that OK for this situation.

Laddie headed for pole 1 or 3 instead of pole 2 on about six of the send-outs. Each time that happened, I called "no here" and he came cheerfully back. With an 80-yard backline and P 60 yards from the SL, the angles between the lines to poles 1, 2 and 3 were narrower than in previous versions of the T-drill, and I think that might be the reason for Laddie taking the wrong initial line more times than in previous versions.

Although Laddie was not perfect at this level, he may be ready for a longer backline again. But instead, I think we'll try increasing the number of retrieves to 12 for the next session, and if he does well again, then lengthen the backline of the session after that.

Series B. Lumi's first throw-away-from-line (TAL) diversion drill (DD). This drill was run, as in Lumi's previous DDs, with an 80-yard backline to a pole with a pile of white dummies and alternating between send-outs to the pile, and Lumi running marks of birds thrown by Nate on the left side of the backline. We used a total of four runs to the pile and three marks of various kinds of birds, at distances of 30 (pheasant), 45 (duck), and 60 (pigeon) yards from the SL.

Lumi apparently found this first experience with the TAL picture confusing, as shown by the following:
  • After Nate's first and second throws and Lumi's retrieves of those marks, Lumi ran back to the old falls of those marks rather than toward the pile when sent to the pile. In each case, a single WS and cast were enough to redirect her to the pile.
  • Lumi had about several no-gos, where I would say "dead bird" and she'd look toward the pile, but when I then put my hand over her forehead and said "back", she just stood there. In the past, Lumi has rarely had a no-go, so I'm not sure how to analyze it. But my assumption is that she was fixated on waiting for a throw from Nate and was confused by the send-out when she knew that Nate had not thrown a bird.
The good news was that Lumi was completely responsive to WSs when needed. The really good news, remembering the difficulty she had in the past of chewing birds instead of retrieving them, is that once again in this drill, she showed no sign of resource guarding the birds. She immediately picked each one up and delivered it.

Series C. Instead of another T-drill, Laddie got to run four 80-yard marks thrown by Nate:
  1. Pheasant to the left
  2. White dummy to the left, same fall as #1
  3. Duck to the right
  4. White dummy to the right, same fall as #3
Laddie showed some low-grade resource guarding on #1, Laddie's first experience with a pheasant, but no resource guarding of the duck. He also had no problem with the dummies over bird scent, and picked each one up on the run, returning with it immediately.

Best of all, Laddie was filled with enthusiasm and speed for this drill.

Series D. This was a triple blind intended to practice the concept of keyholes:
  1. 100 yards with a large white pole from some sport on the left and a tree on the right
  2. 120 yards between two trees
  3. 160 yards at a diagonal between two trees; the trees were widely separated but the angle resulted in a narrow keyhole
The blinds were run left to right, with 30° angles from one to the next.

Lumi line the #1.

On #2, Lumi needed angle back casts first to the left, then to the right, to get thru the keyhole. Once thru, she ran straight to the blind.

Lumi started #3 on line until she was past both trees. She then veered left toward #2. She stopped on a WS and took an angle back cast to the right, but she caught sight of something white at 190 yards from the SL and ran toward that. When I stopped her on a WS, she was behind the #3 blind, so I called her toward me. It took three calls to convince her to come forward and away from what she was apparently certain was the blind. Once she came forward, I stopped her at 150 yards and cast her "over" to the blind. As soon as she took the cast, she saw the orange dummy and retrieved it.

Lumi's performance on our triple blinds remains enthusiastic and fast.

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