Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two converging land doubles, three water singles, and some devocalization work

The title of this post pretty much describes the work at today's group using session.

Because my primary concern was not overfacing Laddie on handling challenges, for the land series, we ran the four marks as two converging doubles, and I had the guns stay out, rather than combining the marks into a triple or quad and rather than retiring any of the guns.

Laddie nailed both of the marks in the first double and the go-bird of the second, but he did need to be handled after all for the final, longest mark, which I thought he had seen but which he attempted to run far off line. He might have forgotten it, or the converging configuration might have worked its disruptive spell. In any case, I was pleased that he seemed to have no inclination to vocalize on any of the half dozen or so casts, since I would have called him all the way back in if he had and the series took our group a lot of time as it was. Since Laddie would almost certainly have vocalized on one or more of those casts a week ago, this week's devocalizing efforts seem to have been effective. 

Like almost all the other dogs, Laddie ran the water series as three singles. He nailed the easy first and comparatively difficult third water marks, avoiding the long hunts that some of the dogs had on the third one. On the second one, he took a good line, but ten yards from the corner of the pond where the bird was being thrown, he veered toward shore to square the bank. I blew the whistle to stop him and he didn't vocaliz, just turned to look at me. But I knew the required cast would be more stressful than we have trained for in our devocalization work, and as expected,, when I have a direct cast away from shore, Laddie took the vat but barked once. I immediately called out "no, here" and brought him in.

This mark had two water entries. I moved our start line down to the first one, hoping I could instill some confidence by being closer when the cast was likely to be needed again and called for the mark again. But the second try was a carbon copy of the first.

I announced on the radio that we couldn't do that mark without vocalizing and asked the third gunner to get ready. But the second gunner thoughtfully asked if I'd like a mark thrown to the center of the far shoreline instead of the corner and I took his offer. That made it a straight channel swim that Laddie ran easily.

The inability of Laddie to run either the land or the water marks correctly, together with some personal animosity I felt from one of the trainers and the discomfort of the hot, muggy day, had me more tense than I realized, and I should have speed training at that point like the others. But with a three hour return trip ahead of us, and our first chance to train on water in s week, I got out a lining pole and s couple of puppy bumpers to run our T-drill next to one of the channels.

Ideally we would have tin it on both directions so that Laddie could practice the water car on both sides, but we only got halfway before they had to lock up. Also, because of my emotional state, I increased the difficulty level too fast, dropping Laddie's rate of reinforcement (by getting to complete the retrieve) too low.

By the way, one of the dogs being trained in this group has been a female in heat the last couple of weeks, and like the other trainers, I have asked that we run after that dog to give Laddie an opportunity to practice dealing with that difficult distraction instead of waiting for him to have it for the first time in a trial, where I know it does sometimes occur even though it's against the rules. This may partially explain some of his unexpected performance lapses during recent sessions.

On any case, we did reach the point in our T-drill the bumper on the water side being thrown to land on the other side of the channel and Laddie being able to run that setup without vocalizing.

We got home at 8:30pm, had done food, got some sleep, and were up again at 3:30am for another long drive and another day of training with the group.

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