Friday, November 28, 2008

Blinds and Drills

AM: Oaks Area 2

SERIES A. Offline drill, 70-yard segments (Laddie only)

SERIES B. Triple land blind (Lumi, then Laddie)

The first blind was an OD at 80 yards on the left, at the back of a stand of four trees in a parallelogram pattern. The dog was to handled on the "judge's blind", so that the dog came into the stand of trees on the right side of the closest tree at 50 yards, went thru the keyhole formed by the two mid-length trees, and picked up the blind in front of the furthest tree.

The second blind was 90° to the right of the first blind, an OD immediately next to the left edge of a woody outcropping, 190 yards from the SL.

The third blind was 15° to the left of the second blind, an OD in open meadow 220 yards from the SL. The OD was marked by a SF pushed well into the ground, visible to the handler at the SF but not prominent, and possibly invisible, to the dogs.

The bad news: Both dogs had considerable trouble with the third blind, interpreting casts as sending them well to the left or well to the right of the intended line.

The good news: Both dogs remained responsive to all WSCs, making it possible for both of them to run the triple without any walk-outs or call-ins.

PM: Oaks Area 2

SERIES C. Remote casting drill (both dogs)

Because of the difficulty both dogs had with Series B in the morning, I returned to the same field to work with both of them on their Back casts. For that work, I invented what I called a Remote Casting Drill (RCD).

The RCD is run as follows:
  1. Choose an SL and an orientation the dog has not run before, or at least not recently.
  2. With the dog not watching, plant an OD some distance from the SL. For today's drills, I used 60 yards. The OD should not be visible until close to it, so note some landmark so that you can walk toward the OD from the SL.
  3. Call the dog to the SL, then walk with the dog toward the OD part of the way. For today's drills, I used 20 yards. Bring along two WDs.
  4. Cue Sit, then throw each WD to one side of the other. For today's drills, my throws were 30 yards and the angle varied from 90° to 45° for Lumi, and varied from 90° or slightly less than that for Laddie. The reason for the difference was that Laddie could not perform the drill correctly when I tried a 45° angle.
  5. With the dog staying in Sit, walk to the SL and use a come-in whistle followed by a quick sit whistle to get the dog facing the SL and alert.
  6. Cast a straight left or right back. Ideally, the dog spins 180° and retrieves the OD. If not, handle the dog to the OD.
  7. Send the dog to each of the WDs for the fun of it and to save yourself having to go out and pick them up.
I ran four RCDs with each dog, and it was surprisingly difficult for both of them even on the fourth set-up. I plan to continue practicing them with RCDs until each can handle reasonably long distances for the OD and reasonably tight angles for the WDs.

For our next RCD series, I think we'll try using a bird for the blind that the dog is being sent to. Since the dogs prefer retrieving birds over dummies, that may act as higher value reinforcement for responding correctly to the Back cue than the ODs I used today, though even retrieving ODs is reinforcing. When I use a bird, I need to make sure that the bird is planted downwind of the dog.

Series D. Poorman double (Lumi, then Laddie)

This was a short drill run with a pheasant and a duck. For Lumi, it was a refresher drill on pick-up speed. For Laddie, it was a refresher drill on Hold during the delivery. For both dogs, it was a fun way to end the evening session.

No comments:

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