Thursday, July 23, 2009

Steadiness Training, Land Blind on a Slope, Play in Swimming Pool

Mt. Ararat Farms

Today, the dogs and I trained with our friend Gaby and her three dogs. For Series A and B, we trained in one of the many large fields on the property. Then the dogs got to play in the swimming pool (Series C) before we drove home.

SERIES A. Singles with flier (Laddie, then Lumi, alternating with Gaby's dogs)

Series A consisted of a 30-yard single with a wing-clip duck thrown left to right from a holding blind, with a gunshot fired during the throw but not hitting the duck.

After each retrieve, the running dog then honored the next dog from a position a little to the left and forward of the start line, so that the new running dog ran past the honoring dog, an honoring context more difficult than most competitions would require.

SERIES B. Two singles and a blind (Laddie, then Lumi, alternating with Gaby's dogs)

Series B used the same set-up as Series A for the first single. The second single (WD) was to the right at 110 yards, thrown right to left with a gunshot. After the dog picked up each of the single marks, the dog ran a 60-yard blind 180° from the left mark. Then the dog honored the next dog as in Series A. Lumi ran one extra mark so that the last of Gaby's dogs could honor.

To my surprise, both of my dog marked poorly on the second single, in both cases running well past the fall and then having to quarter coming back toward the SL to find the dummy. Laddie did not require help. Lumi probably could have found the dummy eventually without help, but she ranged quite far and I took it as an opportunity to remind her that a thrown article is somewhere near the thrower, by calling out to the thrower to say "hey, hey" and fake another throw.

I'm not sure why the dogs had difficulty with that mark, but I'm guessing that it was because I set the thrower up at the edge of a cover change, with the dummy being thrown into the higher, darker, softer cover in front. Apparently the picture suggested to both dogs that the throw would be in the shorter, lighter-colored, more stubbly terrain behind the thrower, since both dogs ran right over the dummy on their way out.

SERIES C. Play in swimming pool

After the two land series, the dogs got to play in Gaby's swimming pool. Part of the time, we practiced various "Over" cues from the Shore-training Toolkit.

At one point, I had Laddie's lead tied to my belt when I threw a dummy in the water for Lumi, and Laddie leapt in to try to get to the dummy first, pulling me in behind him. My cellphone was in my pants pocket and was ruined, the second time I've had a cell phone ruined by accidentally getting in the water with Laddie. Since I'm out of work right now, it isn't a good time for the added expense of a replacement phone. :0(

SERIES D. Land blind (Laddie, then Lumi, alternating with Gaby's dogs)

For Series C, we moved to a different field with a significant slope and ran an 80-yard blind (ODs). I positioned the SL behind a crest so that the dog had to run over the crest before being able to see the course in front. The line to the blind was across an uphill slope, and the dummies were placed under the low canopy of trees at the edge of a wooded area.

Both of my dogs performed well on the blind. Laddie lined it despite the crest. Lumi took the crest well but veered further out, then responded well to the one or two handles required.

Steadiness Training

For all dogs, both mine and Gaby's, the handler held the dog's tab (a 9" lead) while the dog was honoring during Series A and B to prevent any attempt at a break, then ran with the honoring dog to the parking area to play with the dog before putting the dog in the dog's crate. Gaby, who was focusing on her dogs' steadiness in today's work, also held her dogs' tabs while they were waiting to be released for their marks.

I felt confident that mine would not break on the marks and did not hold their tabs for the throws, and that turned out to be fine.

In fact, my dogs also did not attempt to break on the difficult honors, neither when the bird was thrown nor when the running dog darted past them.

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