Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On/off drill at Twin Ponds

Training at sunrise on a gorgeous morning, temps in high 50s, blue skies, in Monrovia, MD.

Besides lots of happy bumpers, Laddie did a total of 13 water blinds, as follows:

A. 30y, LP with white plastic bag, to a pile with two white 2" bumpers and two 2" orange bumpers, past a point on the right. Laddie easily lined it without touching the point and without a sound, picking up one of the white bumpers.

B. Identical setup except that I moved the SL so that the line was across the end of the point. Again Laddie lined it easily, running over the point and making no effort to veer around the point, again picking up a white puppy bumper. He did bark when he leapt into the water on the initial entry, but made no sound after that.

C. Same as A, except that I took down the LP, and only orange bumpers were left. Identical performance to A.

D. Same as B, except with no LP and now only one orange bumper remaining. Laddie again lined it, running over the point,  without vocalizing.

E-H.  New setup, 60y, point on the right.  Otherwise identical pattern and performance as A-D, except no vocalizing at any time.

I-J. New setup, 70y. Point on the left, 10y shoreline swim on the right, creating a sort of keyhole 10y from the far shore. No LP, but white bumpers placed so as to be clearly visible. First retrieve was on a line thru the keyhole, second retrieve was on a line over the end of the point. Laddie lined both without a sound.

K. 110y swim on diagonal across stick pond, with no point but a tight keyhole between two stumps a few yards from far shore. Orange bumper on hillside, not visible to Laddie till he was close to it. Laddie took excellent line, started to square the shore about halfway across, took a WSC on an angle back, which he carried the rest of the way, including thru the keyhole.  He vocalized on the cast, possibly because of the somewhat big water remaining.

L-M. 30y, point on the left, two white puppy bumpers visible from both SLs. First retrieve was on a line over the point, second bypassed the point. Laddie lined both without vocalizing.

To me, today's work showed excellent progress. It appears that Laddie now understands that some retrieves are past points, and some are across them. He also now has one way of knowing which is which: line of sight.  Eventually he'll have to learn a second way of discriminating between them, which is to comfortably accept handling, but for now I'm just trying to lay a foundation. Both of these ideas seem to be important new concepts for Laddie compared to just a few days ago.

I don't think Laddie is "learning" not to vocalize per se. Rather, my feeling is that as his understanding and confidence increase, his nerves steady and the vocalizing subsides.

With respect to the question of why Laddie sometimes vocalizes, using only today's data points, a reasonable theory is simply that Laddie vocalizes when handled in water. However, I don't think that matches all the recent data.  We'll learn more in future sessions.

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