Monday, April 21, 2008

Swim-by, Return and Delivery Shaping, Marks, Diversion Drill

Today we went to Twin Ponds for a swim-by session in the morning (Series A). Nate wasn't available in the afternoon, so we took Bryan with us to Fair Hill for some work on both sides of the road (Series B, C, and D). Here's a summary:
  • Series A. Swim-by (both dogs)
  • Series B. Return and delivery shaping (Laddie)
  • Series C. Marks (Lumi)
  • Series D. Diversion drill (DD), throws over line (TOL), right to left (Laddie)
Series A. After a couple of false starts at spots at Twin Ponds that looked promising but didn't work out well, we finally found a corner of the upper pond that closely resembled Alice's open-water diagram for the swim-by. We did several send-outs to a pile of dummies floating, then practiced stopping on land and a left or right back into water. After each stopped retrieve, we followed with two non-stops.

Six Canadas showed up and started swimming on the upper pond while I was working, and one was making a racket, but both dogs kept their focus and performed well. With Laddie, I was able to use "leave it" to stop him from shopping when he would start to (Lumi didn't try shopping), and both dogs did a nice job of coming 10 yards in from the shoreline to deliver without dropping their dummies.

As I was leaving, Sue Armstrong (with Rodger, the owners of the property) told me we wouldn't be able to train there for some time, so we'll need to find yet another location. Renee and I looked at a possible spot at Black Hills, but it turned out to be unsuitable. For now, I'm thinking we'll have to go to Park Heights for our swim-by training.

Series B. Working on the side of the road at Fair Hill with large patches of high cover, I set up a 20-40-60 yard sequence of marks for Bryan to throw for Laddie with birds and me using silent handling (except for the auto-whistle). However, Laddie dropped the bird at my feet on the return from the 40-yarder, so we started over and this time ran a 20-20-20-40-60 yard sequence. Laddie had no drops on that series.

Series C. Continuing to work on the same side of the road, I set up a 60-70-90 yard sequence of marks for Bryan to throw for Lumi. She was not only flawless in her performance, but showed a stronger commitment than ever to not cheating around cover. On at least two occasions, she ran between blades of high grass that she could have run around just by taking half a step to the side. Yet she split both pairs right down the middle.

Series D. I finally decided that Laddie was ready to resume the DD with the second and last TOL sequence, this time with Bryan throwing ducks right to left over the line to the pile of dummies. Laddie didn't swerve in the slightest in any of four send-outs to the pile, and was flawless on all three of his marks at 30-45-60 yards with one exception: He dropped the bird at my feet on the 60-yarder. I had Bryan throw another 60-yarder from a different position to a different fall, and Laddie returned and delivered perfectly on that one.

We need to practice silent handling at shorter distances (up to 60 yards) some more before Laddie is ready for longer marks with silent handling, so if we get any longer marks tomorrow with the Hunt Test group, I think I'll try saying "here" once or twice as Laddie gets close on those marks.

Alternatively, I may bring some clippies for Laddie and hold one in my hand while sending him, then let him have a short retrieve of it when the series is over.

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