April 6 day off for all - Pounce did one indoor OB session
April 7 cold, rain = another day off.....Pounce is still in the heat cycle while we did today's one indoor OB session. She did her first "intro" to remote drop which I use mostly as another way to deepen a retrievers' responsiveness.  I have never had any of my previous  retrievers "learn" to do this so quickly. Adapting it to Hillmann's philosophy was seamless in one session on the first try. Pounce had already been taught the "leave it" command (walking over and past a bumper) - going out or returning and was very comfortable with this action due to many repetitions.  In this session, Pounce was sitting on a remote sit with a
"bumper in mouth". The visual  "here" command was given. Half-way a verbal "sit" had her on sit.  Then using the very first "leave it" command (in this new situation/setup), Pounce snapped the bumper right to the ground in front of her and looked at me as if to say "OK, What's next?" I was actually startled by the decisive manner in which she responded. The plan was to return to her and show her how "leave it" meant to let go (drop) and that it is was OK to do so. Her eyes remained focused on me, responded smartly to "here", came right to a crisp heel position and probably wondered why the praise was a bit more than normal. Then she was sent to retrieve the remote, dropped bumper which I would never do with the "old way". Then we calmly repeated the exact sequence...all "matter-a-fact business-like" with no pressure as if she had done this many times before.
                  note: This is not the first time Pounce has proven to be a quick study.  However, 

                            this behavior tends to add more credence to the concept that thinking is
                            often better motivated by rewards than pressure.
                   note: In a split second, Pounce's responses were to commands which were
                             conditioned. However, "bumper to the ground " is a bit abstract as it relates
                             to "leave it". How did she figure that out? This required some thinking to
                             realize dropping the bumper would "connect the dots". She could do two
                             actions in a sequence...."leave it" and the "here" command.
                   note: For me, the ramification of this is significant - nurture responsiveness.
                   note: The initial idea to use the "leave it" command removed the need to
                             teach another word/command "drop".
April 8 rain, snow  4 pm 39°F feels like 28°F 17 mph = no outside "stuff", two X OB sessions
                    note: indications are that Pounce's heat cycle is finished
April 9 snow on the ground, 25°F feels like 17°F  "What's wrong with this picture?"
morning = taking care of Lylah.....41°F this afternoon - trained at the Winnebago Co. DTA and Pounce ran one set of three remote winger singles with three "under the arc" concept blinds
                    note: all the snow had melted
                    note: her marks were like "lasers" and had no issues with the blinds (sat
                              responsively, took casts and spent time on both sides of each line to the
                              blinds....each blind was "crisp" = good progress & effort)
                    note: did quick, fun OB session early this morning
                    note: Kooly and Daisy did four "stand alone/send back" singles

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Pounce - 20 months old

April 13 ran HRC singles setup with full line "stuff" (gun, primer reports, bucket....etc.) at
RockCut State Park DTA.....after the three singles it was very clear the precision of the established line time with me standing and Pounce at heel meant very little to my sitting on a bucket, "loading-aiming-shooting a gun while running the transmitter on remote wingers".....all that was not even close to being seamless........therefore, the next several weeks will be devoted to making it so......this evening it began.....we worked two piles of bumpers  at 45° with an old BB gun and a bucket.....developed physical cues for where to sit, used gun to identify which pile, began to swing gun very slightly similar to angle casting and she was easily moving through the routine with a very upbeat, focused and responsive attitude, no anxiety (for either of us) and she soon learned the correct spot to sit while only moving her head in the direction indicated......having the initial routine now identified, a gradual transition to full HRC routines will evolve, repetitions at each stage will be numerous, next phase (in a week or two) move to the yard and keep the progression seamless while continuing with the many other "non-HRC line" skill sets
                         note: each session will be "In drive" (excited and into "The Game")
                         note: compartmentalizing this skill set initially will be a primary rationale
                         note: Today's motivation was driven by not so pleasant thoughts......
                                   "Who is this dog and where did she come from?"
                                   And the obvious answer "I trained this dog myself." 
Another issue also surfaced. The left shoulder "rotator cuff" surgery a year and a half ago has not been much of an issue (lately). However, pumping my old HRC shotgun was way more difficult than expected........time to dig up the therapy bands.

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April 5 not a pleasant day, but did an extended, fun OB session in the front yard focusing on
the whistle sit expectations and set the video camera up to document the interactions
                   note: this is the first time the OB session was moved from the large indoor
                             and heated area....I expected the additional distractions to have at least
                             some negative impact....none observed
                   note: critiques - 1)  a few times sit not quite on ground or just "late", 2) a few
                             "good" praises were not well timed, 3) kept her engaged ("in drive"), but
                              the session could have been shorter

April 24 afternoon 74°F - first stopped at the close by Sand Pond area to run two long, "stand alone/walk around" water singles (big swims & open water) then drove twenty minutes to train at the Winnebago Co. DTA....Pounce ran two, short, remote winger doubles.....then moved down to the pond to work on the "channel swim" concept
              note: her early spring water efforts are progressing really well

April 14  sore ankle = day off, did work on the "bucket/two pile/fake gun drill" (2nd time)
April 15 drove to Stoughton FT grounds....someone already there.....went on up the road to the Gallagher property and setup three wingers with mallards to run a single plus a double off a small mound (good breeze from the southwest and "temp" near 70°F...then
after removing two of the winger stations ran three blinds from farther back and north
                 note: Kooly and Daisy got in their geriatric exercise while I loaded the van
                           moved to the southwest technical pond and Pounce did two multiple
                           exit/entry mallard singles in the "walk around/stand alone" mode
                 note: first water work this spring....but only after verifying the "120" rule.......
                           air and water temperatures were 57°F plus 70°F.....the swimming distance
                           was not very long and she literally flew through each single
                 note: she was a bit "rusty" on the shake AFTER delivery standard                                      note: on the way back stopped at the Wisconsin DNR office in Janesville to
                           buy a state park vehicle sticker - training plus a seminar at Bong "Rec"
                           Area coming up 
                 note: trained four out of the last six days = 283 miles on van 
                 note: the last picture in the photogallery is a "Google Map" overhead of
                           Pounce's first teaching setup/intro to "multiple entry exits" (breaking it
                           down into two stages last September).......today was just a "fun", updated
                           review (and the pond level is a almost two feet higher)
                 note: this well be a great pond to work on "walk-around solo de-cheating"

link to YouTube

Copyright © kwickLabsii. All rights reserved

link to YouTube

click on the YouTube "settings" - view in "slow-mo" speed  0.25

link to YouTube

April 18,19 time off for trainer - dental surgery (was to be 72 hours with no exercise), but next morning was not that bad....."old goat indifference"
April 20 Pounce did a brief session of push/pull lining repetitions in the front yard in the afternoon after Doctor appointment in the morning....back to dentist Friday
          note: Getting old is a pain in the "Donkey".....however, the alternative is worse.
April 21 trained at noon - "yardwork", split lining drill focusing on precision at the line - getting into correct position in one motion ("nose and toes" with spine in line), taking time (not rushing), watching eyes while  having her deal with the visual and scent duck diversion.
           note: easy setup - four white bumpers and a mallard

Finding the bumper in flight on the right required scouring many "screen shots" before finally locating it in flight. The left mark was easy "all the way".

 link to YouTube

April 25 trained at Bong Recreational Area in the runway ponds (afternoon, 80°F, water 67°F, strong wind out of the south) did several individual water drills with Pounce working from the middle of pond and gradually phasing the "no-cheat"
skills..early on Pounce was really good at "seeing" the faster way not necesarily the
the straightest way...being very sensitive, more time and finessing was necessary
                  note: threw several land marks for Pounce after the water (to dry off some)
                            with the strong wind out the south, a 2" bumper flew a long way                   note: yesterday's two water singles had her way out in "big" water and the
                            channel swim at the small pond added to the belief that she is getting
                            much more comfortable away from shore
                   note: trimmed and spliced a video of Pounce's water work and noted a
                             need for a lot more precision at the line.....and slow down

                   note: the two older dogs (Kooly and Daisy) ran some land, got wet and
                             were content with their exercise

April 22 too many distractions - dental work, replaced most of exhaust system on van,
sore shoulder from flu shot = day off from training
April 23 beautiful, sunny afternoon to train - Pounce did three "stand alone/walk back" doubles at the Winnebago County DTA - the first two indicated taking several days off is not a good thing.....last was the best. Kooly and Daisy did a few "stand alone/walking singles" for exercise and then cooled off in the technical pond.......Pounce did a series of short water singles designed to finesse/review two multiple entry exit singles.....she was "firing on all cylinders" with this....it was refreshingly cool after the three doubles
                   note: a sweat shirt proved to be almost too warm

April 10 with a two hour "window" in the rain pattern, Pounce trained in the afternoon at

the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA running the "Modified, 3-Peat, Come-In Drill" then moved to the Roscoe Retention Pond DTA land area for two long "walk around" blinds

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April 1 puppies arriving soon        

Yesterday, Pounce ran an early spring "big yard" type drill and a decision was made to place the video of that session in this April journal. There is a basic reason for "doing" more videos. This is the year when young Pounce will begin competitions and testing.

Yardwork becomes part of the increased spring activity. The drill focuses on lining, casting and reviewing/improving actions at the line. It is a combination of several specific drills.  An issue that "jumps out” of the session was the hard rubber bumpers were not handled nearly as well compared to the soft, winter canvas and real mallards used all winter. The ideal place to "review" that "bumper" issue was in her daily, upbeat and fun OB sessions (and that has begun).
note: This is NOT a rehearsed, "how to train" video. Regularly "filming" training sessions is a personal training tool to observe “in real time” what goes correctly and that which may "not". A distraction from behind (early on) created a "brief blip" in this session. "Stuff happens" which can test a trainer's ability to adjust in the moment. This is a "good thing".

note: Reviewing the "Nose and Toes" standard at the line will be more effectively dealt with using a video taken from the side.  However, that expectation was being self- monitored (somewhat) during this session.

note: Another "issue" with my "line time" (which has been identified) is "slowing down".....
that is not easy.....even at my age. Seeing yourself in action tends to create more focus which in turn becomes the catalyst for improvement.  Awareness is not always spontaneous.....and at times it must be aggressively sought (or provided).
note: A subsequent review of the video, revealed that the last three bumpers were handled "really well"........more relaxed, improvement or only just one bumper?

With regular practice "doing videos" becomes a fairly simple routine. Time saved by quickly "identifying" areas that need work followed by focused, corrective practice often results in creating enjoyable and efficient advancement.

              note: The retriever and handler should be in view to maximize a video's value.

April 11 day off in the field - Pounce did "fun" 2XOB (morning and late evening)
April 12
left around 1 pm, trained at the Stoughton FT Property grounds set up three remote winger singles and a blind using mallards plus decided to intro early line hazards (recent articles from Retrievers Online) the first setup had a "brush jump" at the line and checked that out a few times before coming out to run (Pounce immediately revealed it as not a big deal) plus there were two white chairs in the middle of the setup,
                  note: Pounce did the usual early morning indoor, fun OB session
Pounce was good with this first setup.................left two wingers in the same place and moved one slightly to create a concept (through another fall) and the running line for this setup was about 150 yards south of the first.....up on top of a huge mound (this was the  second early line hazard)....again, Pounce  was "cool" with this and "pretty much" still in "drive".....picked up everything but one winger and glanced to the south remembering Pounce's recent playful romp in the narrow band of lunging water.......soooo, she "breezed" a 263 yard stretch single to the north across that early water, fun "hazard" even after three different setup line "barriers" nothing seemed to phase her
                 note: up by the gate, Kooly & Daisy did five singles apiece for some much        
                           needed exercise
                 note: 90 mile round trip  

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April 30 day off - cold and rain.....trained twenty out of the thirty days with more water
 work possible than most past years (warm water and air)

left click for larger photos and visibility comparison

April 16 upper 70's this afternoon - lunging water fun at the Roscoe Retention Pond DTA,
sudden high temperatures and cool water is a good combination.....more structure next
              note: last night "fine tuned " the HRC gun at the line used different physical and
                        verbal cues after deciding to eliminate any conflicts with "standing" tests

                        vs. bucket expectations. That seemed to clear things up. within a few reps"

                        she was good with the "stark" difference. There have been situations

                        where a first time thing was taught in one lesson and the very next
                        time.....she is like "That's no big deal......I get it." Learning "how to learn"  
                        quickly is a gift.  Early this morning, it was a "good to go" approval with
                        her body posture and enthusiasm (no confusion is "cool"). Assuming this 
                        will happen all the time gets me in trouble once in awhile.
              note: the one area that needs to be "solved" by decheating, with warm water now
                        in the picture this is becoming a high priority
April 17 forecast for 11 am 78°F and warm all week - revisited swim-by today
             note: swim-by review went really well, kept it rolling with "the game", water depth
                       made the banks simple and clean plus everything was familiar, a good
                       review of something she worked and did well last year......July '15
             note: by the time we arrived back home it was in the low eighties
             note: trimmed two areas of the shoreline grass to increase bumper visibility

update 4/23/16

April 26 cool (53°F) & cloudy at 10 am - Pounce did an extended, "bumper in mouth" (often) OB session in the front yard....exciting and fun in a kind of a more "focused and precise" set of actions with many reps
             note: primary focus was head position when walking at heel
late afternoon - did another session "in the yard" - "five bumper lining drill" followed by an extended session of "push/pull" mechanics using two bumpers - again the focus was on repetitions with precision
            note: had no issues with energy and drive was high the entire session
April 27 at 8 am.....cold 45°f with strong winds out of the east, Pounce did a quick morning session in the front yard working on a quick, remote sit, precision heeling (both sides} and being in the correct position for deliveries.....no problem working in an "upbeat" manner.    note: "spiked" excitement twice during session 

This means she was capable of training/learning things in drive.  However, it is not the excitement that is doing the teaching/learning.  Pounce does NOT need "off the wall" animation except in those situations where a session appears to have generate too much pressure (in her mind). Those perceptions followed with an understanding of Pounce became part of the process of reading her needs "in the moment"

Pounce is an interesting combination of dynamic "most of the time" and selectively sensitive "once in a while". Balanced, "useful" excitement can be maintained by "reading" interactions and reacting properly.

For example, Pounce has outwardly expressed instances where too much excitement inhibited her focus and control. These situations resulted in a failure to perform specific, taught skills or by expressing inappropriate behavior. Training session feedback from  those instances provided information/data that too much excitement can be just as much of a problem as not enough. How the fluid balance in excitement is regulated depends solely upon observing Pounce's reactions and performance "in the moment"
April 28 cold, windy and rain plus a significant eye doctor appointment - cataract surgery not immediately required (six month window until next exam), but retina issue in right eye requires treatment.....soon....however, this means dog training, fishing and hunting will proceed as scheduled plus the usual lawn mowing and property maintenance
                   note: did not train today.......and somewhat relieved
April 29 left hours around 1:20 pm and back at 6:30 pm with 110 more miles on the van,
trained at the Bong Recreational Area DTA up on the south bluff....used Voigt's Flip-Flop setup and ran two sets of two singles (first set from the east and second from the west), 
then ran four blinds up through the second setup - Pounce performed really well on everything, then cooled off in the Stick Pond zipping down the steep railroad tie steps
                   note: after everything was "picked up", Kooly, Daisy and Pounce (for the first
                             time) came out to run short, fun singles in tandem (taking turns running
                             back to the remote, "stand alone" line)
                   note: Pounce actually did better than the two older ones, mostly because they
                             had never done it any other way....both were confused and Pounce
                             figured out the "her turn routine" quickly and focused   
                   note: 11 days until the Hillmann training seminar at Bong...May 11-12

Trained late today (after the rain moved through - cold and windy) at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA (mostly because tomorrow's forecast includes 50 mph wind gusts). A low lying grassy area had a 30-40 yard band of shallow lunging water (much less than a foot deep) which appeared ideal for running Pounce on some multiple memory marks.

Setup a relatively easy triple with "stickmen"stations, threw each mark, walked back to the line and Pounce was "staring down" the go bird. When she hit the water hard and it flew out around her.....her memory was immediately flushed, rinsed and gone. Duh!  Should have thrown singles and conditioned her to the "flying water rush". After taking tomorrow off, we may revisit this terrain the next day and do three remote winger singles with mallards.
                 note: did Pounce's fun OB morning session - worked with a big 3" DT bumper
April 2 high of 40°F winds... 25 to 35 mph...plus gusts up to 50 mph (plus an early dusting of snow on the ground) = day off
                 note: early morning had Pounce repeating the same "fun", indoor OB session
                           that was done last night
                 note: it appears she may be nearing the end of her heat cycle.....not sure

April Focus (balance) - HRC setups 2X a week (one Thursday evening group), two marking setups ABC based,  marking setups with blinds (singles & multiples), diversion drills with KRD , one pin-point marking session, Y- drill, "line time", "stretching", yard work & OB
                  note: start water with lunging "stuff" and small ponds on warm days)

April 3  high of 70°F, partly cloudy with SSW winds at 20 mph - trained late this afternoon at the nearby Rockton Road DTA - Pounce ran two short doubles each with two concept blinds - under the arc, through the fall, behind the gun and wide past the fall
                      note: both of us need more "line time" - therefore, setups with wingers
                      note: Kooly and Daisy ran three long singles between Pounce's setups & it
                                was obvious that into the wind, Daisy could not hear the verbal release
                                on her "stand alones", Kooly was OK = first sign of age "sneaking up"
                      note: morning, fun OB with Pounce was sharp.....repeated late evening
                      note: continuing to focus on the correct heeling position for field work, a
                                 precise, efficient return to the heel positions (on both sides), whistle and
                                 hand signal "sit", "here" and a hand signal for "down", extended remote
                                 sits, working with "bumper in mouth" and regularly incorporating "the
                                 game" to maintain "high drive" excitement levels.......fast paced and
                                 fun...working on responsive precision (much can be accomplished in
                                 5-10 minutes)
                       note: Hillmann's  pre-seminar, on line, "site" setup by Jim Wegner is providing
                                 a significant boost to Pounce and her handler's skill levels
April 4 cold and windy = decided to train mid-day.....did an early morning OB session
                       note: the indoor OB session this morning was especially "comfortable" since
                                 it was cloudy, 34°F with a wind chill of 25°F....daffodils are in full bloom,
                                 but the crocuses have already "croaked"
                       note: Pounce is still in heat (approximately 21 days so far)
                       note: took all three dogs to the Winnebago Co. DTA with Pounce running
                                 Hillmann's "Pin Point" marking drill....this has progressed extremely
                                 well and her precision has been impressive (natural marking talent), very 
                                 accurate......but not today and looking for reasons, first thought her heat                                     cycle could be the reason. However, after Kooly and Daisy did a set of
                                 singles for exercise...Pounce was out to run two "looong" walking singles
                                 only because of the reasoning in the following "note", she nailed each
                                 single (280 and 340 yards) and I was relieved

                       note: glancing back to the west another perspective "jumped out"....all the
                                 singles to Pounce's right had a tall, dark tree line for their horizon, those
                                 to her left had a high, cloudy skyline and I was throwing a dark green,
                                 "camo" canvas bumper = "duh" trainer not thinking....to verify, I later
                                 spliced two singles from the session video for comparison (one from each
                                 side) and then played it in slow motion......"night and day"  difference in the
                                 "arcs of the marks" in terms of visibility (should have used a white bumper
                                  or attached  white ribbons)

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