Cheltenham, blue skies, 76 degrees, light breeze.
Today was another day of all water blinds. First, Laddie did On/off drills on four different setups (eight retrieves total). Then he ran one cold water blind we've never run before, an 80y land entry off a mound plus a 70y swim, then thru reeds to the blind set 10y inland.
Every retrieve was with Laddie's 2" white puppy bumpers, since I think they act as +R for completing the blind. All of the On/off drills were run as sight blinds, with an LP and a white plastic bag as the target. The sequence was always the no-point retrieve first, then the point retrieve. Most of the setups were repeats of setups we've used recently. In other words, except for the fact that these were all medium length rather than any short setups, my entire focus was on minimizing confusion, maximizing confidence, and reducing the likelihood of any vocalizing.
My ultimate goal with these sessions is to have day after day of no vocalizing until that becomes Laddie's normal behavior. Unfortunately, although I feel Laddie is significantly more familiar now with the On/off concept, I still haven't found a way to have a productive session with no vocalizing.
So today I added one more element: the three times that Laddie vocalized, I <i>immediately</i> called him back. The first time was a plaintive yelp, while the other two were tentative, perhaps experimental.
I am reluctant to use a call-back on blinds, since it would be terribly disheartening if I accidentally trained a no-go, or added to Laddie's anxiety and actually made the vocalizing worse.
On the other hand, call-backs seemed to be effective a few months ago in greatly improving Laddie's popping.
So perhaps now that Laddie's understanding of points is hopefully clearer, a mild +P for yelping will help Laddie make another step of progress.
I just need to watch carefully to see whether the problem is getting worse or better, and also to watch carefully for possible side-effects. That's assuming that I have enough skill to recognize them if they appear, not necessarily a sound assumption.