Our training group consists of dogs at various levels in their training, from puppies to Master dogs. Our trainer adjusts each set-up based on the training level of the dog. So for example, last Saturday Freighter did not run the first set-up as a poison bird mark with a blind. Instead he ran it as a simple double. One mark on the frozen pond and the second hand thrown from the line.
The second set-up was another poison bird mark with a blind. The younger dogs, like Freighter, ran the mark first as a single and then the blind. The mark was thrown off to the right hand side of the frozen pond and the blind was set on the back side of an island in the pond.
Our trainer warned us about several pitfalls to this set up.
First, to get to the mark the dogs had to run past the blind on the back side of the island and they might they get a whiff of the bumpers as they ran by it. For the very young dogs, the thrower was instructed to be ready to get the dog’s attention and toss another bumper to get them out to the mark. For Freighter, his handler was ready to handle him to the mark if he showed that he was going to turn to the orange bumpers on the back side of the island.
Freighter took off and his nose went up in the air as he passed the island, but he did not turn and kept going for a nice retrieve.
Now to the blind.
Our trainer explained that running a mark next to a blind may act to pull a dog back over to the mark and away from the blind since a dog cannot see the blind and has no idea where it is placed in the field. The dog will want to go back to the spot he knows he found a bumper rather than an unknown spot.
With this particular blind, there was an added challenge. The blind was placed on the back side of the island which is a steep hill and the dogs see it as a wall. Younger dogs may not want to takes casts up that “wall”.
Just like Storm on the first set-up, Freighter did a lot of zigzagging in front of the island before he finally took the casts over the hill. It kind of looked like this with the dark orange line representing Freighter’s path.
Some pictures of his work:
It took a bit to get him over that hill, but we were pleased that he got there in the end. He needs these kinds of challenges.
For comparison, Storm also ran this set-up. She watched the mark, but did not retrieve it until after she ran the blind. She had three handles to that blind which was excellent. She has a lot more experience under her belt than Freighter. It showed on this blind. Of course when she was sent to retrieve the mark, she forgot where it was and needed a cast to put her on it. Oh well. She is still rusty from being off for the winter and she did well on the more difficult concept.