Saturday, April 19, 2008

Whistle Sit, Swim-by

This morning, we went to Brink for our next swim-by session.

Whistle Sit Practice. As usual, we practiced whistle sit coming and going to our swim-by area, and as usual, I raised the criteria a little. Today's most challenging WS was at 50 yards with both dogs on the run right to left and not focused on me. Both dogs responded instantly to every WS today, including that one.

Swim-by. Today was our second session of a WS in water, with each WS followed immediately by recall. Each dog ran two straight backs from heel for every WS.

Since Lumi has had previous experience with WS in water, she had no difficulty with today's work.

Despite some success yesterday, Laddie seemed to have difficulty understanding what was expected at first today. We solved the problem by sending him out a short way on land and blowing WS-recall, then immediately repeating the sequence on water.

Driving home, it occurred to me that the sequences we were running, with me throwing a dummy across the water immediately before the backs from heel, and not using the dummy for the WSs, was making the dummy too much of a discriminating stimulus. At our next swim-by session, I plan to throw out three dummies at a time. I'll blow WS on the first one, and when the dog turns to me, I'll cast a left or right back. I'll follow that retrieve with two more backs from heel to the remaining dummies. After that, I'll run the other dog on the same sequence.

The first time or two, we'll pattern the sequence on land and then immeiately re-run it on water.

I think that sequence will proof the WS thoroughly, and also proof left and right back.

However, if one of the dogs won't stop on the WS, I'll need to come up with a solution. For Laddie and the double-T, the best solution on land turned out to be working with an oversized course for a few sessions. The equivalent on water may be a large pond or lake, assuming I can throw the three dummies far enough, and also assuming they won't float away. Other possibilities would be to find a location where I can pin a dummy when I don't want it retrieved, or to use a long line. Maybe the dogs will respond correctly from the beginning and I won't need a remedy. We'll see.

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