Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Adventure Drill, Blinds

The Adventure Drill is unusual in that we can practice in a wide variety of locations and don't need a lot of time per session. In our region, it's easier to find a short retrieve with challenging factors than a long retrieve that looks similar to typical Senior Hunt Test retrieves.

Today, for example, we had three short sessions of the Adventure Drill with a double blind mixed in:
  • Before work, I took the dogs to nearby powerline right-of-way, with high grass in the center and mowed strips around the edges. Having no birds along with us, I used one each of four different kinds of training dummies, and we ran seven quick high-energy series, alternating dogs between retrieves so that each dog got 14 retrieves of about 10 yards. Each retrieve involved a crossing into or out of high cover, several required the dog to go thru a strip of higher cover rather than around it, I cued each return with a three-tweet CIW, I gave high-value treats for each delivery (which I took as soon as the dog arrived without requiring swing to heel nor sit). Both dogs' body language maintained, "I want to go next," and "I want to get back for my treat." That's the kind of attitude I'll want to see in our event on Saturday.
  • After work, I took the dogs to the east side of the trail at Seneca Creek and ran them on another five Adventure Drill series, using two pheasants and four ducks. Two of the series were 10 yards and involved leaping over a log, first one direction, then the other. Another involved a 50-yard run down a path thru the woods, down a steep embankment, across a small, fast-moving creek some of it requiring a swim, and up a steep, slippery embankment to the bird "pile" (closely spaced but not touching one another), then back again for the return. Two more involved crossing a strip of high cover rather than running around it. Same high energy, high motivation.
  • Next we drove over to Oaks Area 2 and each dog ran a double land blind, 70-100 yards with one duck and one pheasant.
  • Finally, we drove back and hiked out on the west side of the trail at Seneca Creek, for another three Adventure Drill series with two ducks and two pheasants. The first was 30 yards thru a narrow path of five-foot high cover and down an embankment onto a muddy beach covered with tangled vines, amongst which I had thrown the birds. The second involved the dog running along a 20 yard path thru high cover and then traversing a short, narrow shelf with shrubs blocking the right and a steep drop to the left. I sent Lumi on her turn three times and each time, when she got to the shelf, she tried to see a way across, tail wagging, but was unable to summon the courage to get across, even when I brought the dogs near the shelf and let her watch Laddie show her the way. Laddie, who bounced across, grabbed a bird, and bounced back without hesitation each time I sent him, ended up retrieving all four birds. After the series, Lumi, walking beside beside me, seemed philosophical and in good spirits as we hiked on, while Laddie was full of himself as always and raced ahead looking for more excitement. The last series was 40 yards meandering thru thick cover and woods, down an embankment, left and out of sight across a rocky beach, across a small, fast, running-depth creek, to the bird pile on a sandy beach on the other side of the creek, then back again. The dog was not visible toward the end of the outrun, but I was able to guess from the sound of splashing when to blow CIW. Based on how quickly each dog came back into sight, neither dog got diverted and both raced back with their birds on each of their two retrieves for a joyful reunion with the pack and high-value treats (sliced roast beef and fried chicken liver).

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