Sunday was a nice day so we took advantage of it for some Sunday training in the park. The park was empty so we could spread out which was a good thing because we had been wanting to work on poison marks with blinds with Freighter.
For this set-up you throw bumpers in the field so they are visible to the dog, but you don’t let the dog retrieve them. You pull the dog off the bumpers and run them on a blind retrieve. For blind retrieves, the dog is directed to a bumper at another spot in the field but they do not know where this bumper has been placed. The dog must rely on their handler’s direction to get to the bumper.
We had been wanting to work on this because at our last training we noticed that Freighter needed a little tune up after he headed for a soda bottle that was visible on the field rather than following his handler’s direction to the blind.
Freighter had this down pat last summer, but he had a long layoff while hubby recuperated from major surgery last fall. He had no training from September until February which included no hunting season either. If Freighter is going to run tests this year, we need to see what skills he has and where he needs to tune-up his skills. We are just starting this process.
With that in mind, this was our set-up.
First I threw the bumpers (also called marks) as they are numbered. Mark #1 was thrown at an angle back from me, and mark #2 was thrown directly across from me, (we call that a flat throw). Then Freighter was pulled off these two marks to run the blind, (Blind #1 on the right). The bumpers were left in the field as he ran the blind.
As he was running the blind, Freighter tried to dig back over to the bumper that was visible in the field. I indicated Freighter’s path to the blind on my diagram with the light tan colored line. It is not unusual for the dog to want to go to the bumper that they can see in the field rather than the bumper they cannot see. However, the point of this training is for the dog to take their handler’s direction and go to the bumper they cannot see.
Each time Freighter turned toward the bumper he could see (Mark #2), hubby stopped him with a whistle.
Each time Freighter heard hubby’s whistle, he stopped, turned and waited for direction. He only needed to be stopped two times on this blind which is not bad at all.
Once Freighter had the blind, he was sent to retrieve the marks. He retrieved Mark #2.
Then Freighter retrieved Mark #1.
When you have a dog run a blind before they retrieve marks, it also tests the dog’s memory. They need to remember where the marks landed in the field after a gap in time as they were running the blind. This set-up was not all that difficult because the grass is cut, but it can still be a challenge for the dog to remember. However, Freighter had no trouble remembering where the bumpers were and retrieved them.
The last thing Freighter needed to do to complete the set-up was to retrieve the blind to the left (Blind #2). This blind required Freighter to run past Mark #1. Many times the dog will try to dig over to the spot where they picked up a bumper but the handler does not want this to happen. In fact it can be difficult to even line-up the dog correctly to the blind because they may want to line to the spot they picked up the mark.
Freighter did really well on this blind and carried the line for a long time. He needed one handle to this blind.
We ran a second set-up and Freighter lined that blind so I think it is coming back to him to carry the line hubby gives him for as long as possible when he is running a blind. Soon we will be able to get onto our summer training grounds where we will be able to add in cover and haul out our wingers to throw the marks farther.
But for now, we had a great Sunday training in the park.