Pounce is "Ready"
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Pounce has followed Hillmann's program from the very beginning. It was a first time process for both of us. Most all of her training went well. The single area that we seemed to struggle
with was distraction proofing. The major factor that was lacking seems to be engagement. This meant "going back" and reteaching, working for more consistent repetitions and more practice. In addition, finding a seamless process for introducing distractions was needed. The two obvious areas have been getting to the line (after leaving the holding blind) and moving at the line. These are not unusual issues.
Most of our problems revolve around a lack of engagement due to distractions. Therefore, to rehabilitate this we are going to spend less time on the skills "out there" (which are excellent) and learn how to deal with distractions. The space between the holding blind and line is one issue. Anticipation with poor engagement is the other issue. Too many distractions are inhibiting the process and too many poor behaviors are cementing the lack of solid conditioned responses. Corrections may seem to help in training, but a smart dog that knows there are no corrections in a test.......is not fun.
Therefore, that which she is anticipating above all else will initially be removed from the equation. There will be "no birds in the air out there" until we have thoroughly practiced everything "before and at" the line. The approach is simple and very similar to the HRC format of "shooting a blind".
The first stage consists of two black stakes placed in the field with Dokken piles (eventually there will be three). The full HRC Finished process from the van to the line will be practiced. Dokkens on the ground are "shot" and Pounce picks up "doubles". After the first set is completed, she goes back to the van. The same "van to the line" routine is repeated two more times. The only thing that is missing are "birds in the air". Initially removing this major distraction (birds in the air) narrows the scope of the session. By reducing excitement (distractions) the desired action is more easily repeated (correctly). The plan is to eventually add a second (and then a third). This is going to be practiced five or six days a week for at least a month. The "more birds in the air" phase will be a gradual transition. The goal is to creat a new set of conditioned response.
In reference to the banner, it was a long, cold, bitter and nasty winter. I had cabin fever and went slightly "stir crazy". One day I was thinking about teaching Pounce how to read...just one word...."sit". Many years ago, Jim Dobbs had placed a piece of PVC right in front of his dogs at the line. I often have my dogs running to and off "placeboards"....thus the "sit board". Actually, it is just another distraction at the line (and having a bit of fun with this).
note: three sessions into this and it is progressing well....1st Finished Test June 1st.
note: the "new" used Winchester pump shotgun is working well
note: updates to follow