The training forums continue to have threads dealing with training a pup using Hillmann. The most recent one began with having an issue of barking at a thrown bumper. The significant aspect about the Hillamann approach is that thrown bumpers are NOT part of
the process early on. The following YouTube with Mary Tatum clarifies this point. The puppy in her YouTube was doing his very first sessions of “The Game” at almost three weeks old. That is not a misprint. It progresses through three timely, well spaced intervals of training.
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The following is Gigi's early Hillmann. After viewing, there are some things I would do differently.
After doing Hillmann with two pups, the obvious has become clearer. The two I have were/are different (higher than a kite vs a little more subdued) and both were older by several weeks. Whatever situation surfaces with the next pup (if there is one), adjusting training will be much simpler (more experience). Each training session lesson is determined by doing what a pup needs in the moment (especially in the beginning).
It is important to quickly recognize behaviors that do not represent the focus of what is being taught. For example, If a pup is barking at a bumper when it is on the ground, then temporarily eliminate those types of repetitions (tossed bumpers) and keep the pup more engaged (with you) while a bumper is in his mouth or being held by the trainer. Less of "this" and more of "that" is
the key to balance. That is somewhat like the concept of “bumper in mouth” training with an older dog. How teaching proceeds is determined by what a pup needs (and they are not all the same).
note: I could have "nipped in the bud" the growling behavior of Gigi when pouncing on
a short tossed bumper by delaying the tosses and developing more focus on me.
Hindsight is only useful for the next pup.
Keeping a puppy in balance is a function of five factors - retrieving, desire for bumpers, focus,
control and responsiveness. Any puppy barking at tossed bumpers is getting too much retrieving/"bumpers" and not enough of the other three (which are greatly impacted by distance).
The following relates to a significant concept. Go back and review Mary Tatum’s YouTube (which covers several weeks of sessions), the initial training (several days) did NOT involve ANY retrieving (tossed bumpers). Resist the urge. The focus is purely on responsiveness and focus that is up close (engagement). Once engagement is well developed, only then is training enhanced (gradually) by the excitement of retrieving and "birdiness”/bumpers (very close and on lead).
To summarize: The Hillmann puppy approach begins by developing exciting focus, control and responsiveness on a short lead. Once a pup is initially “hooked up”, engaged and practicing with the trainer, only then do you begin retrieves (very short ones to start with). The process is best when it is sequential and seamless. ONLY THEN is not just a few days. Teaching and practice take time (to repeat - not just a few days).
One must resist the urge to watch a pup charge out and attack/fetch something…until the other “stuff” is in place. When a poorly engaged pup runs out there "on his own”, the decision about what to do next becomes his and further developing engagement (responsiveness) often turns into a problem. Balancing engagement up close first is the key. To repeat, more of this and less of that has a significant impact on maintaining balance. The challenge is to do what each pup needs in the moment. It is not universal.
note: Training is more effective if it is not described by "Hurry Up and Wait".
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