The first training set-up this past Saturday was an in-line double. For in-line marks, usually the farther one is thrown first and then a closer mark is thrown so that it falls in-a-line with the first. Here is a rough diagram of what I am talking about.
Marks thrown in a line can mess with a dog because once the dog picks up the closer mark, they forget all about the farther mark. Or if they blow over the closer mark and pick up the farther mark, they forget all about the closer mark. They are used to marks spread across the field, so in a dog’s mind, it must be somewhere else. In-line marks are advanced marks.
Last year when Storm (and Thunder), ran this type of double they would run over the closer mark and pick up the farther one first. Longer marks are what they are used to seeing. They had trouble remembering, that closer mark. Usually they had to be handled to it.
But this time Storm did this double correctly. She picked up the closer mark and then pushed past the area where she picked up the first bumper and got the farther one. Good job!
Freighter also ran this set-up, but as back to back single marks. The farther one was thrown first (#1) and he was sent to retrieve it. Then the closer one was thrown (#2) and he was sent to retrieve it. There were two visible gunners in the field (throwers in the field wearing white) so an inexperienced dog may have trouble passing that closer gunner and pushing to the back of the field.
Freighter got out past the first gunner, put up a hunt, but was not able to come up with the bumper without a little help. He did fine on that closer mark. Since this is training, I was not concerned that he needed help on the longer mark. This is teaching time and I was confident that we would run something similar as the day progressed so let’s see how he does the next time, (more on that in another post).
When we first started training, I did not understand that a dog doing everything perfect in training is not learning. Training with a pro, we now know that it is important to challenge our dogs and if they are not perfect it is OK and long as they put the effort in.
Some pictures of Freighter.
The next thing we did was a blind run on the same side of the field where the gunners were standing to throw the marks. I realize this post is long, but I wanted to put these two scenarios in one post to show how one part of training builds from the one before. In a Master test, this type of progression is very possible. In fact, Thunder ran a Master test last year very similar to this.
By putting the blinds on the same side of the field where the marks were just thrown it puts another thought into the dog’s head. To make this blind more difficult, the bumpers were placed on the edge of a tree line. Some dogs are reluctant to go to the edge of the field like a tree line, or a corn field. The trick is to get the dogs to go there and find the bumper. Also, the handler needs to exercise control when the dog gets to the bumper so that the dog does not get a whiff of something and go off investigating the woods.
Storm did fine on the closer blind which she ran first. The farther one she had a bit of trouble with. The trick for her handler was to push her past that first blind and not let her dig back to the first one. It took several whistles, but she finally got there.
Some pictures of her work on the first (closer) blind.
Tomorrow the next set of marks. Did Freighter improve? Check back tomorrow.