Sunday, December 13, 2009

Water Retrieve, Double Land Blinds


On a cold, wet day, with intermittent rain and a thin sheet of ice covering the ponds and channels, I took the dogs to Cheltenham with the intent of training with Charlie's group, but we had the place to ourselves. I found out later they had moved the training day to Saturday to beat the bad weather front that rolled in last night.

SERIES A. Water retrieve (Laddie, then Lumi)

Series A was an attempt to execute an idea that Alice Woodward suggested to me: Instead of giving up on water entirely during the winter, run occasional water retrieves no more than one per day, even in cold water, then create a highly reinforcing outcome (combinations of gunfire, land retrieves, happy throws, tug). Finally, dry the dog and putting the dog in a nice, warm vehicle.

Today's Series A was our first attempt to carry that plan out.

With the dog waiting at the SL, I walked 50 yards to a mound, fired a gunshot, and placed a frozen duck, white feathers up, on the face of the mound. I returned to the dog, fired another gunshot, and threw a frozen chukar across a 10-yard wide channel in the opposite direction as the mound. I sent the dog, and when the dog re-entered the water on the return, I fired a third pistol shot. When the dog delivered the chukar, I lined the dog up and sent him/her to the duck at the mound. When the dog raced back with the duck, I threw the chukar as a happy throw, ran with the dog to the van, throwing the bird a few more times. I then dried the dog with a dry towel and put the dog in the van, which I'd left running with the heat turned up.

The above description worked great with Laddie, exactly as described.

With Lumi, the first time I tried it, she stalled at the far side so I cued "over", directing her to cheat around the channel for her return. I wouldn't object to her doing that in a test, but I still wanted a water return as well.

So I put on her collar and attached a 100-foot line, then threw the chukar again. Lumi swam across but again wanted to cheat on her return. I used the line to draw her back into the water, and she swam back to me, leaving the chukar behind. I then sent her back for it, and this time she picked it up and came straight back to me. Then I sent her to the duck on the mound, which she was thrilled to retrieve.

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

For both dogs, the first blind was 90 yards thru a narrow keyhole into a cluster of trees, using the chukar as the blind. Laddie lined it. Lumi slipped her first whistle, but then I realized she needed to go to the bathroom. After she was done, I sent her again. She veered a little right, I blew WS, she sat nicely, then took a good cast to the bird.

For Laddie, the second blind was thru a wet, boggy depression, thru high cover, and across a road to the frozen duck at 180 yards. Laddie ran it on a single cast.

For Lumi, the second blind was across a different section of the road to the frozen duck at 120 yards. Lumi overran it and while responding nicely to every WS, had difficulty with the CIWs. So that's something we need to work on.

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