Last Saturday we ran a couple of interesting blind set-ups. Our trainer had the gunner (or thrower/blind planter) sit in a chair in the field and plant the blind at his feet. Once the dogs completed the first blind, then he had the gunner plant a blind the right and sit back in the chair in the field. The dog ran that blind and then another was plated to the left. After the dog finished that blind, then they got a mark, or fun bumper.
The first set-up we ran was toward a tree line. This helped the dogs have a back stop for reference. The second time we ran this set-up, the gunner and blinds were out in the open field and at a longer distance. This provided an additional challenge for the dogs.
Here is a diagram of the set-ups. I put both on the same page so that you can see how they looked in relation to one another.
What is the purpose of running this type of set-up? It is one way to add a lot of challenge to a shorter blind. You see most dogs have been trained not to go to a person standing in the field because the bumper or bird would never be there. It can be quite a challenge for the handler to change their minds about this. Some dogs were so reluctant to go to the gunner in the chair that they just zigzagged in front of him. If it became clear that the dog was not going to get to the bumper, the trainer had the gunner pick up the bumper and show it to the dog and drop it. This helped the dog understand and see the bumper and finally take the cast to it.
Storm had no problem with this. As novice trainers, we never knew that you should teach the dog to stay out of a gunner station. It did cost her a couple of tests throughout her career. But for this exercise, she lined the blind as if saying, “OK you pointed me at a guy in the field and I will go and see what he has for me!”.
Once the dog picked up the first blind then it had to go to the blind to the right and retrieve that. Then do the same thing to the left. The trick her was to keep the dog from going back to the gunner and the area of the blind to the right. Storm needed a couple of casts, but took them and had no issues with this set up.
This set-up was not meant to be easy. Hubby has been working with Storm on lining drills. The drills and her experience paid off for this set-up.
Freighter had a more difficult time, but it was not unexpected. When setting up training scenarios, you hope to challenge the dog and not make it too easy for them. Unlike Storm, Freighter has been taught not to go into the gunner station. He did a bit of zigzagging in front of the gunner, but eventually he trusted his handler and got the bumper. He didn’t need the help of showing him the bumper so that was really good!
After he got the first bumper then he had to run the blinds to the sides. He needed some casts, but did a nice job for a dog at his level of training. He had a good day.
Once all dogs ran, the gunner moved and so did the line. The trick the second time around was to get the dogs past the gunner to the blinds on each side. This time there was no tree line to act as a back stop, so it provided an additional challenge.
Again Storm had no issues with this. She took a nice initial line and the casts that her handler gave to her.
Freighter needed a lot of casts, but again this is more what we would expect. His handler worked him through it which is the important part and it was a valuable learning experience for him.
We are very lucky to have a trainer who comes up with interesting and challenging set-ups. Thanks to Darrin for a great day!
After all of that physical and mental stimulation, the brown dawgs were tired indeed!
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