For the last several sessions, I've brought along an assistant for Laddie's training, and made most of his retrieves marks rather than blinds. We are still working predominantly on technical ponds over and around points of land, but we've raised the reinforcement value of the retrieves by use of gunshots and giving Laddie the opportunity to see the bumper thrown rather than having to depend entirely on handling instructions from me.
Here, for example, are the retrieves that Laddie ran in today's session:
- LWLWL mark with cheating entry on first water. Laddie required handling when we ran this identical mark in our previous session, but did not need handling when we ran it today.
- LWLWL mark with cheating entry on first water. Laddie required handling when we ran this identical mark in our previous session, and retired handling again today.
- LWLWL mark with cheating re-entry (on second water). Laddie has never run this mark before, and did not require handling.
- LWLWL mark with cheating re-entry. Laddie has never run this mark before, and it was too difficult for him. Not only did he attempt to cheat around the second choice, but he barked when I attempted to call him back toward me and then cast him off the point. As soon as he vocalized, I immediately called him in, which was a long swim. When I attempted to run him on the mark again, his performance was identical to the first time, including barking and being called back in. Since I saw no way in that location to make it easier, I just decided to move to a new location for our continued training.
- LWLWL mark with cheating re-entry. Laddie has never run this mark before, but he required no handling.
- LWLWL mark with cheating re-entry. Laddie has never run this mark before, and he chose to run it by taking the point of land wide and then cutting back to the fall. Since I consider that an acceptable way to deal with a mark across the tip of a point, even though it takes Laddie a little offline, again Laddie required no handling on this mark.
- Land blind over a mound at midpoint. I was able to handle him over the mound when he tried to skirt it, and he did not vocalize as he had the last time we ran a blind over a mound, several months ago. I felt that was a good sign, showing that the work we had done with devocalizing on water blinds had also carried over to devocalizing on land blinds.
Like our other recent sessions, today's session was challenging yet low in stress and high in reinforcement value. It seems like a good way to take advantage of the little time we have left for training in water this season.