Since Saturday Laddie and I have had a couple of rest days and a couple of sessions practicing quiet handling at the local pond. Work that was hard a week ago was easier. Today we went to a training property with a technical pond to try for another increment of training.
First we practiced a similar setup to Saturday's. When I realized that continuously handling Laddie to a point meant I was at risk of untraining his ability to swim past a point on a mark, I also threw some open water marks and let him swim to them without handling him to a point as he swam past. For points on either side, he took a confident, straight line without veering to land, which was good to see.
We then moved to a pond with a W-shaped shoreline. First I had Laddie watch a throw into open water from the center point, and then leaving him in a sit, I went to an end point and cast him to the bumper. After three of those, I let him watch as before, but then brought him with me to the end point and handled him on and off the point to the bumper. That was the same process we had accomplished on Saturday and at the previous location today.
Next I threw the bumper against the shoreline, which was a small step further along in difficultly. And finally I threw the bumper up into the cover on the end point, which was a major step further, since Laddie has always been most likely to vocalize if he could not see his target when being cast. Since I alternated between having him wait on the middle point versus having him come to the end point with me to be sent, and since we reversed directions several times, I guess Laddie ran more than a dozen retrieves in this process.
At last he was able to let me handle him onto the point with a silent "over", and from there to take a silent "back" into the far cove, all without vocalizing.
Again we ended with a couple of open water marks past a point without handling, to hopefully restore balance against all the times I had handled him onto the point.
Two weeks ago I didn't know whether Laddie would ever be able to take casts like today's without vocalizing. He is making real progress.