Friday, April 18, 2008

Whistle Sit, Swim-by, Marks

This morning, Lumi, Laddie, and I went to Brink to practice WS while hiking, and then to try the next phase of our swim-by training. I had planned for us to train in the afternoon, but it was too hot. A summary of the day's work:
  • WS practice (both dogs)
  • Swim-by, introducing WS in water (both dogs)
  • Series A (Laddie)
Whistle Sit Practice. As we've been doing lately, I blew a WS every few minutes while hiking out and returning from our swiim-by practice. Both dogs were again 100% reliable.

Swim-by. Most of our work on swim-by today was throwing a dummy to the far side of our swim-by area and cueing "back" to one dog while the other dog honored. I alternated back and forth between dogs.

In addition, four times for each dog, I did not throw a dummy, but only cued "back". As soon as the dog was swimming, I then blew a WS, and the dog would turn around and face me. As soon as the dog was facing me, I'd whistle recall and the dog would swim back and come to heel, reinforced by cheers and a small bite of fast-food cheeseburger. After each dog had performed a WS in the water, I gave each dog an uniterrupted retrieve across the pool twice before asking for another WS.

When I first tried this drill in the swim-by location I had previously chosen, both dogs did poorly because they would look for a shallow area of the creek to stop in with their feet on the streambed rather than stopping in place. When I saw that was happening, I moved to another location for this phase of the training, one not well suited to the entire swim-by training but with uniformly deep water in a large area so that the dogs could stop in place. Once we moved, both dogs did well each of the four times I blew a WS.

I believe that ideally, the dogs would not only turn to face me, but would also remain in place treading water until I gave my next cue. That is not the case with Laddie yet. As soon as he has turned, he immediately begins to swim toward me. Although I could try to come up with a way to address that now, I don't think it's a problem, because Laddie does not yet realize that from that "sit", I might cue "over" or "back" rather than recall. I believe that once Laddie understands all of those are possible, he'll automatically hold his position, waiting to see what I do next, as Lumi does.

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