Today I again took Laddie to the local oval-shaped pond for a short devocalization session.
We used only one start line, but we used it about 15 times. At the beginning, I put Laddie in a sit at the start line and walked along the curved shoreline about 60y, and as he watched, I threw two bumpers. One rolled into the water and was then hidden from Laddie behind a plant. The other remained visible, though small, on the bank.
I then walked back to Laddie, and on the way tossed another bumper into the water near shore, in front of some plants and about 20y from the start line.
I then established the only pattern we would use today: I sent Laddie to the short bumper, stopped him with a whistle sit just before he got to the bumper, cast him toward the center of the pond with a silent "over" cast, and watched. If he carried straight, as he did a couple of times, I stopped him again after a few yards and cast him with a silent "back" toward the long bumper. If he bent around toward the long bumper on his own, I didn't stop him.
If Laddie barked or howled on any of the casts, I immediately said, "no, here," then lined him up and ran him again. I did not, however, call him back for quiet vocalizing while swimming. I'm still not sure whether judges would mind that.
After a successful retrieve, when Laddie got back to me with the long bumper, I sent him to the short bumper, which he excitedly retrieved.
After either of his deliveries, I sometimes also threw the bumper far out toward the center of the pond, among a large flock of geese that were swimming there. They dissipated as Laddie swan out to the bumper.
Here's how the session went: Although Laddie had run two similar series at the end of yesterday's session without vocalizing, apparently it was not yet easy for him, and he vocalized the first several times I tried the silent "over" cast in today's setup. But his enthusiasm never flagged, and eventually he took that cast without vocalizing. He also took the silent "back" cast without a sound, and so finally completed the retrieve of the long bumper, plus of course the short one, and maybe a happy throw into the middle of the pond.
I then put him in a sit and went out to again throw the long and short bumpers to the same approximate locations, then returned to run him again. We ran the setup three more times, and he never vocalized again.
Finally, I re-threw the short bumper, without needing to throw a long bumper because the one that had rolled into the water was still there. And then I ran him again. He seemed a bit confused when I sent him away from the short bumper, but he took the cast without a sound, and then bent around as if I had cast him "back", even though he might not have remembered the throw from a half hour earlier, and may have just been following our earlier pattern. And eventually he spotted the bumper in the water near the far shore, swan to it, picked it up, and ran back to me with it.
I guess today's work would be called a "schooled" blind. I felt it strengthened yesterday's learning and brought us one more step on our devocalization program.