It’s the the blog hop that:
Lets you wrap up your week and leads you right into the weekend.
I am behind on all things blog this week. I am still trying to wade through Pet Blogger Challenge posts, but I sure got some great tips and suggestions on my post. Thanks to all who made suggestions. I am also behind on the Monday Mischief hop. I hope to catch up this weekend in between dog shows.
There were a lot of great questions my posts about training this week. Thank you very much for all of the questions and comments.
I tried reply to questions right under them, but some questions required a longer answer than would comfortably fit in the reply box. Those questions are the subject of this Follow-up Friday post.
I am curious about what those hand signals are, does the handler just point or is there a specific hand gesture? And how does one go about teaching that to their dog?
First, I am no trainer. We train under a professional trainer who guides our training and helps us if we run into a problem while training a skill. He also helped us teach the hand signals or as we call it “handling” or “casting”. There is a progression to the training that starts well before we actually introduce the hand signals.
Remember that once you move beyond the basic casting, the bumpers or birds are not visible. That is why they are called “blinds”. You can’t just point because the dog may be 100+ yards away from you. You need to make big gestures so that the dog can see.
The hand signals we use correspond with the commands we use. For “back” the handler raises his arm straight up. Either the left or right arm depending on which way he wants the dog to turn. The dog may not turn the desired way at first, but with training eventually they understand and do it. For a left or right “over” we use the corresponding arm held straight out to the side. Sometimes we will include the verbal command and/and or walk in the direction we want the dog to move. Most handlers use roughly the same hand signals and commands.
Most people who train retrievers themselves use a “system” for teaching. There are many books and videos out there by famous trainers. Some people follow them to a tee. Others may mix them depending on their own experience. We follow our trainer’s method because he has proven results. As with any training, much of it is training the handler to train his dog.
I found some YouTube videos which show some basic handling drills. These YouTube videos are aimed primarily at training a dog for hunting but are helpful in showing one way to teach handling or casting.
Jodi also asked:
I’m curious about that statement if a dog is perfect, they’re not learning. What exactly does that mean? How else would learn to perfect something if they haven’t learned the behavior?
Field training is not exactly like other types of training. Sure we do drills like the ones I posted above, and we work on obedience and you can get those things close to perfect. But we train and test outside in fields where there is terrain, and hazards, and weather. We call these things factors. This YouTube video explains factors far better than I can:
Factors can change the way the dog makes a retrieve. Factors may make a dog headed straight for a retrieve veer off course or take it away from the retrieve completely. Factors are ever-changing. We try to use many different factors while training.
We also try to vary the direction and the number of marks thrown. These can effect how a dog makes the retrieve. Dogs used to retrieving triples may be utterly confused by a simple single. It important to try to show the dog as many set-ups as possible over the course of their training life.
When we first started out we would throw the same basic marks and in the same field. The dogs were pretty near perfect at those, but they were not learning. They don’t hunt in that field and they don’t test in that field. Throw in factors and that training may have been of little benefit to them and they were not making progress toward more complicated set-ups.
Now when we train with the pro or by ourselves training setups are varied and we add in factors. If the handler gives a back cast and the dog goes left, the dog learns that it is not going to find the bird. If a dog has been doing only single marked retrieves and I throw a double the dog may not know to keep watching the field, but it will learn. If a dog is used to marks being thrown from the edge of the field toward the center and at a test the marks are thrown from the center toward the outer edges of the field, it may really mess the dog up if he hasn’t seen similar set ups in training. So we set up different scenarios and let the dog hunt a bit and hopefully it will learn.
We are not afraid for the dogs to make a mistake in training. Most dogs will learn from their mistakes.
One last question on the in-line double from Tegan:
Are they supposed to retrieve the far or close bumper first?
They dogs can pick the bumpers up in any order. BUT most dogs will not pass by a mark right in front of them. So we let the dog pick it up first so that it is out of the way and they can concentrate on getting that longer mark. We teach our dogs to run in a straight line until they find a bird (the No No Drill above is a way to work on that, long single retrieves is another). If a dog picks up that shorter bird first and I line the dog to the longer one, hopefully even if its memory is a bit faulty, it will run in a line until it gets out to where that farther bird has fallen. Multiple marks are testing a dog’s marking and memory, but we try to help if we can by lining the dog up to the mark.
I hope I have answered everyone’s questions. Feel free to ask again if I haven’t.
Have a nice weekend!