For our Saturday training, the weather was pretty cold but thankfully not as cold as it has been and no wind. The sky kept looking like it wanted to clear, but we had intermittent snow showers. They were light enough that I was able to take some pictures. Good thing because for this particular triple, I think it is easier to explain with pictures.
The dogs were running marks over a frozen pond. (A mark is bumper or bird that the dog watches being thrown out in the field for it to retrieve.) The benefit to running marks over a frozen pond it that it offers some different terrain with the banks simulating small hills. Also, finding a bumper in the deeper snow can offer its own challenge.
This was quite a challenging triple thrown as follows:
Mark #1 was thrown at the far side of the pond.
The dog watched that bumper fall and then the person throwing the bumper (I will call him the gunner) walked all the way back to the spot to throw Mark #3.
When the gunner got almost back to the spot to throw Mark #3, the handler at the line turned the dog and threw a bumper onto the path, this was Mark #2.
After watching Mark #2 the dog had to turn back to watch the gunner throw Mark #3.
This set-up is an advanced set-up. There are so many things to trip up a dog and so much for a dog to remember, but the hope is that the dogs will learn from any mistakes. Many of the dogs had a difficult time with this set-up so we ran it a second time and they did much better. Freighter had trouble with Mark #1 the first time, but had no trouble the second time around.
Requiring the dogs to jump over snow banks, adds more challenge than running on flat ground because it takes their eyes off the spot where the bumper fell. Anytime a dog must take his eyes off where a mark fell by jumping a hazard or changing positions at the line, it adds difficulty to the set-up.
Next the dogs picked up that long Mark #1 at the far side of the pond.
The first time Freighter ran this set-up, he got to the far side of the pond, but did not see the bumper since it was mostly buried in the snow. He must have thought he had over-run it because he hunted back to a point of land closer to the line. He was handled to the mark with a “back” cast and he found it. The second time around, he slowed down on that point of land and sort of scanned it with his eyes, but seemed to realize that he had to push over it to get out to where the bumper fell.
The last part of this set-up was an honor. An honor is where the dog watches the marks fall for another dog. The dog must sit and watch. Freighter has blown a couple of tests on the honor so this set-up was great practice for him.
There was such a delay between marks that Freighter had a tough time just sitting and waiting. We will definitely run more of these types of triples for Freighter in our own training. He can do the work but we are still working on steady with him.