Freighter’s first hunt test of the season is fast approaching. It is time to work on skills that may have become a bit rusty over the long lay off while hubby recovered from surgery last Fall. Blind work is one of the skills that can become rusty, so it is time for tune up blind work.
For blind retrieves, the bumpers are set out in the field but the dog does not know where they are. The dog is directed to them by their handler using arm signals.
For our tune up blind work, we picked a field near our cabin. This field has a natural gas pipeline running through it which is marked by a series of poles.
When Freighter was first learning to run blind retrieves, he was running toward big white or black stakes to help him understand where he needed to go to make the retrieve. As he became more proficient, we changed to smaller orange states which are difficult for a dog to see, or no stakes at all. Once a dog can be handled to a blind, the stakes are really for the handler so he/she can spot the blind location in the field. However, sometimes there are things in a field which look like blind stakes (in this case the poles marking the pipeline). A dog may be fooled and ignore their handler’s direction thinking the poles mark the blind. So it is great training to incorporate these kinds of distractions into training.
In addition to the poles, there was also a lot of scrub bushes in our training field as you can see in the photo. Again, these add distraction. The dog should ignore distractions and maintain the line he was given to the blind retrieve.
Also there was a road that runs down the field. Making a dog cross a road adds further difficulty to a set-up. In our set-up, hubby set-up three blinds which required Freighter to cross the road at an angle. Requiring the dog to carry a line which crosses something like a road at an angle also adds difficulty. Anytime you have a change in terrain, it can add difficulty and young dogs may actually square up to the road to cross it, but we wanted Freighter to carry the line and cross at an angle.
Freighter was sent to the middle blind (blind #1) first. Hubby did that because it could make the next blind (blind #2) more difficult. Once the dog knows the position of a blind, he may want to head back to it. Hubby set blind #2 just to the right of the first blind but far enough away that Freighter should have an easy time if he followed hubby’s direction.
Hopefully Freighter will carry the line and cross the road at an angle on the way to blind #2.
Once Freighter crossed the road, hubby stopped him with a whistle blast because he was starting to head back to the first blind.
Hubby recast him to blind #2. You can see the orange post of the first blind to the left of Freighter by the tree line in the next picture. Freighter is on the correct line to blind #2 here so you can see it in relation to blind #1. You can also see the white pole marking the pipeline, and Freighter may be headed toward it thinking the blind is there.
So hubby stopped Freighter and recast him one more time away from the white pole.
Once Freighter had blind #2, he was sent to retrieve blind #3 which required him to run parallel to the road. This was a long blind. Freighter does well with blinds that are 50-60 yards long, but he is very rusty on longer blinds so we wanted to stretch him out. Blind #3 was much longer than the other two, (probably closer to 90 yards).
Blind #3 also had a few hazards such as bushes along the way. At one point Freighter got hung up in one of the bushes.
If you look closely at the above picture, you can see the blind stake at the far clump of bushes behind Freighter. Freighter did a bit of ping-ponging once he got in the vicinity of this blind. We definitely need to get him working on longer blinds.
It was a good day of tune up blind work for Freighter and pointed out things we need to work on ahead of the test next month.