During our last few sessions, Laddie and I have gotten well into the proofing stage for running blinds without vocalizing. For now, we are not working with the distractions of other dogs or trainers.
In addition, I am not requiring absolute silence at this time. Laddie still sometimes vocalizes quietly while swimming, and also occasionally barks once when being cast off a point. I'm torn about how to address these. The risk of allowing them to continue without calling him back is that I'm sending a confusing message, which could increase stress and which also might lead to the behavior gradually deteriorating again. But the risk of calling him back is that that results in a reduced rate of reinforcement (ROR) for the session, which is unpleasant and stressful for both of us. In addition, every time I can him back in order to discourage vocalizing, I'm at risk of also discouraging the correct response, such as taking the cast, that he was also offering at the same time. Maybe I should be more absolute and consistent, but for now I'm treating it as a judgment call.
As an example of one of our proofing sessions, today Laddie ran three double blinds, a total of six retrieves. Each double blind consisted of a short water blind with about 70y of swimming and a long water blind with about 150y of swimming. Every blind had one or more points of land in the picture, and I tried to provide a balanced mix of required behavior.
I didn't need to call Laddie back a single time for any of these:
Series A, short blind: over a point on the left
Series A, long blind: past a point on the left, then between two points
Series B, short blind: over a point on the right
Series B, long blind: past a point on the right, then over a point on the right
Series C, short blind: over a point on the left, then past a point on the left
Series C, long blind: over a point on the right, then past a point on the right