Thursday, July 24, 2014

Devocalization, fairly big land plus some water work

With temps in the high 70s, and me unable to spend four hours of driving for a trip to the closest training property in rush hour, I took Laddie to a large but featureless field near home instead.

I planned to continue this morning's plan of gradually increasing distance on a T formation, so I planted a target lining pole and placed three bumpers 15y away on each side. I then ran Laddie from 15y, 30y, 50y, and 70y, sending him each time to the lining pole, sitting him with a voice "sit" (I had left my whistle in the van), and then sending him either left or right (selected randomly) with a silent cast.

To my surprise, Laddie never made a sound the entire time. What was going on here? And how could we make progress if the setup was too easy?

So I walked back to the van and got my whistle, and then I went out and planted two bumpers, one on the left side of the field and one on the right. I paced off the distance back to our start line as 210y.

I then ran Laddie on each of the blinds, not as a T-drill, but using normal choices of angle backs, straight backs, and overs. I used the whistle for sit as I had been doing the whole session, and I used silent casts exclusively, again as I had the whole session.

Laddie was unable to line these blinds because the field's mow lines pulled him off line toward the center of the field and the trees lining the outside of the field pulled him toward the edge. As a result we had an opportunity to use several casts for each of the blinds to keep Laddie within a narrow corridor. And once again, he never vocalized.

I was a bit confused. I could not tell whether we'd made progress in this session or we were simply reaping the benefits from earlier work. Since we'd used little time, I decided to take Laddie to the only local pond we have available for a little water work.

This pond is an oval, and since it has no points, it has little use for most of the training we're doing these days. But it's big enough to set up several water blinds of over 100y as well as some shorter ones, and I was interested to try Laddie on a few of them.

Laddie did vocalize during the water work, and I chose to respond in different ways depending on the type of vocalizing. If he vocalized at the moment I cued a sit, or at the moment I cast him, I called "no" immediately and called him all the way in, then started the blind again.

But for the vocalizing that Laddie sometimes does as he's swimming, I elected to ignore it at least for this session. I want more feedback from experienced field trialers to find out whether judges would have a problem with that noise before I put Laddie thru the process of trying to suppress it.

For the water work, I found that Laddie was once again noticeably more comfortable (that is, would not vocalize) if I used a verbal "sit" rather than the whistle, and in addition, I continued to use silent casts exclusively. In that way, Laddie was able to run two 130y water blinds, one with the shore on his left and one on his right, each blind requiring several casts and each without him vocalizing on a single handle.

It seems Laddie has made a leap of progress on devocalizing today. I hadn't expected we'd come so far this soon.

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