Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Devocalization, whistle sit, no lining pole, rehearsals

I've missed posting some sessions, but including today's session, I've developed some principles:

- Rehearse the on-and-off version with one or more half-versions. That is, put the dog in a sit at the point, walk to the start line, and cast from there. I also blow a whistle sit before casting, but I don't know if that matters.

- Randomly vary which side the point is on.

- For every two or so retrieves on-and-off the point, run a mark on a line near the point and expect the dog to swim past the point without handling. If you have an assistant, have the assistant throw the mark with a gunshot. Otherwise, improvise as best you can.

- Zero tolerance for barking or loud whining. I'm not sure what the correct rule is for quiet vocalizing.

- Increase difficulty gradually. In terms of minimizing probability of Laddie vocalizing: A verbal "sit" is easier than a whistle sit. A silent cast is easier than one with a verbal "over" or "back". A cast to a lining pole is easier than without one. A cast to a visible target (bumper or bird) is easier than if the target is hidden. A quiet environment is easier than one with distractions. A familiar line is easier than one that the dog has not run before, or has not run often. 

Putting those principles to work, today's last handling retrieve was with no lining pole, to a bumper not visible till Laddie was up on the far shore, using whistle sits, with a silent over-cast onto the point, and a verbal back-cast off it. That combination represented the farthest milestone we've so far reached on our devocalization journey.

It was followed by a thrown mark that Laddie swam near the point, staying off the point without the need for handling, some exuberant play, some toweling off,  and the long drive home to dinner.

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