Sunday, March 2, 2008

Private Training: T-drill

After returning from a long training day at Cheltenham, in which Laddie spent most of the time in his crate in the van not able to participate in the group activity, I brought him to our permanent T-drill training site for a T-drill session befoe returning home.

We again used a 40-yard leg from SL to P, and 20-yard legs from P to poles 1, 2, and 3.

The retrieval sequence was a repetition of yesterday's challenge as follows:
  1. Whistle sit (WS) at P, "over" to pole 3
  2. Straight to pole 2
  3. Straight to pole 2
  4. Straight to pole 2
  5. WS at P, right back to pole 2
  6. WS at P, over to pole 1
  7. Straight to pole 2
  8. Straight to pole 2
  9. Straight to pole 2
  10. WS at P, left back to pole 2
This time, Laddie not only performed perfectly on every WS, but also on every cast, compared to the previous day's flash cast on #5 that led to Laddie incorrectly picking up the dummy at pole 1 and a busted pattern on the remaining retrieves that day.

The only problem Laddie had with today's drill was that once on #5, and twice on #10, he took off toward pole 1 when sent toward P and pole 2. Each time, I responded immediately with "no here" and he quickly and cheerfully came back to heel.

A Matter of Concern. Normally, Laddie only has one speed: maximum. It may be my imagination, but when I was playing this session back in my mind, he did not seem to be running as fast and excitedly as he normally does. Possible explanations I have thought of:
  • 9-1/2 hours in his crate in the van.
  • An after-effect of the previous session's "leave it" sequence and the large number of WSs that followed.
  • General malaise from the fact that he is running so few long marks lately.
I intend to keep taking Laddie with me when I take Lumi to group training, but in the future, I will make a point of taking him out for some kind of training activity every few 3-4 hours if the session stretches on as long as today's did.

I can't change the fact that I trained "leave it" to mean drop a retrieval article in the previous session, but perhaps I should not do it again. I don't know whether it would be best to use "leave it", or to go out and take it away from him (which would also be de-motivating against his sincere desire to retrieve), or to let him bring it to me even though it wasn't the article I had sent him to. I need guidance on this. Unless I hear otherwise, I think I will follow the practice of encouraging a completion of the retrieve once Laddie (or Lumi) has picked up an article, regardless of whether it was the one he was sent to, and even if I had previously cued "leave it" before he picked it up.

I do think it is time for Laddie to start getting more marks, arranging them so that they are long enough for him to stretch himself out in his exuberant way without a WS, but avoiding any factors that might lead to incorrect behaviors until the WS is reliable enough to depend on in those situations.

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