Friday, September 10, 2010

Current Training Activities

We continue to train daily, and I often keep notes on each session, but I don't currently have time to keep up our online journal.

Here are some of the things we work on:
  • In Patty's Field Trial group, we work on whatever her set-ups are, but my primary concern is trying to build Laddie's confidence in that context. I've come to believe that a lot of his problems on returns, which only seem to happen in group settings, come from an emotional response to the situation. I'm not sure yet whether the root cause is: Laddie picking up stress from me (which Alice and others suspect to be the case); or he is affected by the presence of other trainers, dogs, and field training gear; or, as I'm inclined to believe based on some experimentation, he's affected by set-ups that he considers too far over his head. One of his symptoms is popping. I'm hoping to use his frequency of pops as a yardstick for measuring my success in simplifying set-ups to increase Laddie's success rate, with the goal of course to eliminate popping, as well as poor returns, entirely.
  • In private training and training with Gaby, we're working on a variety of concepts, varying from day to day: inline triples, hip pocket doubles in combination with a third retrieve (either a third mark or a blind run after the double is down before one or both of the marks are picked up), reverse hip pocket doubles run with a third retrieve, and out of order doubles or triples (that is, having the go-bird not be the shortest mark). In addition, we run land and water blinds, practicing things like angled water and cover entries and exits, on-and-off the point, keyholes, wraps (such as running past a hedgerow that has a field opening up behind it, tending to suck the dog behind the hedgerow), and hills. Distances of our marks are in the range of 40-300 yards. Distances of our blinds are in the range of 150-300 yards, occasionally even bigger.
  • Sometimes we run drills. For example, yesterday, out of curiosity, I ran Laddie on an out-of-order double with a long blind, and then I had him do a session of pile work. For the pile work, I set up a pile of 10 bumpers (5 white, 5 black) at an LP, and ran him to it from an SL 90 yards away. He ran both directions with great enthusiasm on every retrieve. In addition, I was pleased to see that he almost never dawdled or shopped on the pick-ups. I think he may have started to shop maybe twice, and as soon as I called "Here", he immediately grabbed the bumper he'd originally picked up and streaked back to me. Other drills we've run from time to time over the last few months are the Skimming Drill with both high cover and water as the obstacles, the Cool-off Drill, and variations on the Offline Drill.

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