Saturday, March 8, 2008


With rainy weather since yesterday and group training tomorrow, I decided on a light training day today: the same T-drill for both dogs at Fair Hill.

For the T-drill, we used a 60-yard backline with one dummy at pole 1, one at pole 3, and ten at pole 2. As in our previous T-drills at Fair Hill, position P (the "pitchers mound) and all three poles were in the same positions we've used every time. The only thing that moves, to create different lengths of backline (BL), is the startline (SL). Thus the dog's line of sight on the send-out is always the same, toward a large, white, dead tree in the woods a couple of hundred yards beyond pole 2.

The benefits of this an be seen in the difference between Lumi and Laddie in running this drill at this location. Laddie, who has run this drill here a dozen or so times, rarely takes a wrong initial line (WIL) any more, at least not with a 60-yard BL. Lumi, who has only started running this drill in the last day or two, continues to take occasional WILs. Since this is not a lining drill, reducing and eventually eliminating the WILs enables us to concentrate on our handling objectives without having to correct for the WILs.

As Alice suggested a few days ago, we continue to use a retrieve sequence that includes send-thrus every other retrieve, with no whistle sit (WS). In addition, we're currently using no patternizing challenges (that is, repeating the same handling cue several times in a row and then switching to something similar but different). These changes from our previous sequences have improved Laddie's morale, and have also improved Lumi's morale over T-drills that we ran when Lumi was younger. It's unfortunate that I didn't know how valuable the send-thrus are in keeping up a dog's attitude about the drill. On the other hand, I wouldn't have invented the pinball drill if I hadn't been looking for a solution to Lumi's low motivation in performing T-drill, and I still feel that the pinball drill has been a valuable training tool for both dogs.

The sequence both dogs ran today was:
  1. WS, over to P3
  2. Back to P2
  3. WS, over to P1
  4. Back to P2
  5. WS, left back to P2
  6. Back to P2
  7. WS, left back to P2
  8. Back to P2
  9. WS, right back to P2
  10. Back to P2
  11. WS, left back to P2
  12. Back to P2
A description of how each dog did with this sequence follows.


Laddie slipped the first sit whistle of the day, reaching pole 2 and picking up a dummy. I walked out to meet him as he returned, slipped on his lead, and took the dummy. Then we walked together back to pole 2, and then all the way back to the SL, where I removed the lead and brought him to heel.

Thereafter, Laddie was letter perfect, not slipping another whistle not refusing another cast (that is, he responded correctly to every handling cue). I was especially pleased to see that he spun the correct direction on the three left backs and the one right back.

Laddie started with great focus and enthusiasm, which I felt declined slightly as the drill progressed, but it was not a great amount of decline and it did not cause his responses to decline in accuracy.


Interpreted first left back as "over" to pole 3, first right back as "over" to pole 1. I used WS, then "over" to P, then walked closer and a bit to the side and re-cued "back". Lumi then responded correctly both times.

She also had three WILs, to which I responded with "no here", and in each case, she took the correct line on the next send out.

Lumi started the day with the best focus and motivation I've ever seen from her on a T-drill, which I attribute to here recent T-drills with send-thrus every other rep. Later in today's drill, she began to slow on her send-outs, then speed up after 20 yards. I don't think this was because of the WSs, since she was speeding up too early if that was it. I think it was the WILs, and once she saw I wasn't going to say "no here", she speeded up. I think that's good news, because as she learns the line of sight to pole 2 at our permanent training site for the T-drill, she'll stop having WILs and perhaps we won't see the slow-downs any more soon after that.

No comments:

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