16X32 yards

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Aug 12 Wednesday - high in the low 80's - weather is OK for training....but a day off seemed more useful 
Aug 13 Thursday - high middle 80's - trained in the afternoon and Lylah went along for the trip. Our first stop was at the Stoughton property. Gigi ran the point blind she learned on Tuesday. It was setup the same
way as far as distance. However, the UTV was staged back to using only three lines. Gigi lined it fast and precisely (each time). Pounce lined it perfectly from half-way and then the full distance. This was after not running it for two years. The equipment, dogs and UTV were loaded up quickly and a short drive to the Gallagher Field Trial DTA soon had Gigi working on the swim-by pond. She lined back and over piles and then did a few over casts. The grass around the swim-by pond was trimmed short which made it much easier to train on. This session was very productive. She will be back (no pun intended) for more practice.  

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Aug 25 Tuesday.....this week features three more days in a row with highs in the 90's
Aug 26-28 HOT....not doing anything except something quick and early in the morning
                  note: Last year early goose season was September 1st and none have moved near
                           Thorson Pond (yet).  Early teal, September 5th will be "sketchy" at best.
                           There were four on the pond earlier this week, but they did not stay long. 
Aug 27 trained early while there was some shade for an HRC line..setup focused on slow and under
control...Pounce went first while Gigi watched from a tie out. Three remote wingers were planted in
a pod. Gigi was very animated at first. One of the wingers must have a wiring issue which meant altering the presentation. Singles and doubles were used. The HRC bucket and a single shot shotgun were used and the action was slowed considerably. Pounce has the routine etched in her memory. This makes for a good balance with Gigi's desire to do everything at warp speed. Gigi is finding out that the more animated she behaves the slower the action becomes. Each session has been just a bit better than the previous which means progress is happening. Her high drive mind and strong instincts sometimes get in the way of developing much needed skills. Her overall distraction proofing has been often right on the edge. Today was better than the previous session. When well rested.....she is a beast. When pushed to the limit there is not much of difference.      This evening seemed like a good time to revisit a few links from about five years ago. The topic of interest at that time was understanding the concept of training in drive. Pounce was just a puppy and Hillmann's program is based on training in drive. The first link is to a Kwick page and the second was a page recommended by another trainer (back then). Both have been very useful. 

Link to YouTube Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP6tYOdvFH4

Aug 4,5 two days off.....Since we are not attending any tests this year, the justification for training every day has become difficult. Old habits tend to be pesky. 
Aug 6 Thursday - very nice, cool morning.....Gigi and Pounce worked in the yard.  Gigi ran Hillmann's Seven Bumper lining drill (from the left and right heeling sides). Then she rested on a tie-out as Pounce did an extended and very challenging version of Hillmann's Helter Skelter Drill.  Gigi was up again for a second session (working off a placeboard) and practiced four casts with angle back and angle in Dokken retrieves (both sides). After each delivery, Gigi was repeatedly cast back to the placeboard and expected to turn, face, sit and focus waiting for the next cast. These were not easy, brief sessions for either of them. 

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Aug 24 Monday - trained early at the Gallagher field trial DTA First up was Gigi with another session of swim-by. The problems were fog and sunrise. To make it easier for me to see, I decided to run from the other side of the pond. This was a different look for Gigi plus the sun was soon directly in her eyes. Of course, none of this was clear until things began to go south. Therefore, stopping the session seemed like the best approach. It was a quick move to the east side of Walsh Pond. The van served as a nice sun barrier for the next setup. Gigi and Pounce did an HRC line setup with three remote wingers used to present a schooled triple. A simple blind was added. Gigi watch from a close tie-out at the line while Pounce ran three singles out of a dog hide. Again, a single shot shotgun was used which made all the action at the line "not rushed". The duck call was blown often and the invitation to leave the dog hide was delayed....quite a bit. The theme was "this is a hunt and it will take quite a bit of time.....so be patient". Pounce ran her singles and then switched places with Gigi. Gigi ran her singles and then switched with Pounce. Between runs both dog had to wait patiently either staked out or in the hide. After each had run their three singles, the setup was used for a second round. Each ran a triple with a simple blind. Again there was a lot of doing nothing going on.....as with most duck hunting. Pounce did really well.....Gigi found out hunting means there is a great deal of time just waiting......patiently. The most challenging aspect of this session was keeping the pace slow and boring (Intermittent duck calling, getting up and walking around, blowing the duck call and just sitting.....there.....doing nothing). After everything was picked up, we drove over to the big pond and planted four Dokkens (without a white stake) to run the 183 yard point blind from the big mound (full distance with no cheating). The previous preparation (three increments) were sufficient as Gigi lined it twice. Pounce then came out to line it once just for the exercise.

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Aug 28 Friday high 89°F - day off...weather forecast - today is the last of the heat wave
Aug 29 Saturday high of 76°F - Trained in the morning at the Thorson Pond DTA using the van for partial shade. The setup was another HRC line presentation with four remote wingers. The high,  close splashing Dokkens had Pounce and Gigi jazzed and ready. However, this was also another session of the Long Wait Drill. Pounce ran four singles first as Gigi observed from a tie-out. Gigi was not very relaxed as the time between each of Pounce's singles included duck calling and a slow, old trainer walking around wasting time. Gigi then had her turn with and even slower pace. For the third set, Pounce was again running the same set of four singles....except the I-Phone was used as an alarm clock to signal that five minutes had past since the last launch. Therefore, about 35 minutes had past since Gigi had anything to do but watch another dog work. Pounce was placed on a tie-out and Gigi was sent into the hide...to wait. All four wingers were then reloaded. The five minute alarm was set and duck calling began. About five minutes later the alarm signaled the arrival of her fifth Dokken to retrieve. There was a delay before asking Gigi to come out of the hide to a heeling then sit position for that retrieve. After "kenneling-up" back into the hide, the next Dokken did not fly over until the alarm went off and there was a of lot duck calling required to bring this one into range. The pace was very deliberate and slow. At first, I felt a little bit anxious to get on with the action. However, the purpose of the session was to set an example. Going slowly and waiting is a powerful distraction....the plan is to deal with it......because there is no other alternative......for the trainer and his retriever. A bonus to the slow pace was being able to practice mounting the shotgun as a left handed shooter would. However, there is no recoil with primer loads. The jury is still out on whether shooting left handed will work.   

Aug 3 Monday - trained...Harrison Road DTA - began a series of four setups focused on inline marking. Lylah

came along to learn how to be an assistant. Lylah is our non-verbal, autistic granddaughter and had a good day helping out. She definitely likes to ride in the UTV. We setup three inline singles for Pounce and Gigi. The following Google diagram reveals the planned set of four. White stickmen were at each winger station and
launched Dokken mallards. Pounce is more than ready to run master tests and Gigi actually marked better on this first set of singles. Lylah did a really good job of shuffling "stuff" to and from the UTV plus helping in loading the wingers. However, riding around in the UTV was her favorite part of the day.

Aug 9 Sunday - up early...already close and muggy - hot in the afternoon = day off for all

A recent forum thread topic was about the value of Hillmann's program. As usual, very little was mentioned about the abilities of a trainer utilizing that program. From a retired teacher's view, it is important to accept that the manner in which one reads, studies and learns how to process information varies......considerably. Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from (or generated by) observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication. That requires quite a bit more than just processing.


In simply terms, training an advanced retriever is more about the student (retriever) and teacher (trainer) relationship (which is rarely quantified, analyzed, discussed or modified). The above perspective explains why how to train a retriever is much more complex than defining it simply by the name of a specific program. Peddling as fast as one can may simply not be enough.
​​
Aug 10 Monday - day off, muggy with a thunder storms and tornado watch high in upper 80's  
            "stuff" to work on in August & September (early goose season Sept. 1st)
                     begin Hillmann's 5 Point Star Drill with Gigi (finished with the three point)  
                     Pounce exercise  red arrows thru 8/27
​                     whistle sit drill
                     take the swim-by skill set Gigi has so far to the Gallagher swim-by pond ✔✔✔✔✔
                     continue the sequence of inline singles with both dogs 
                     practice Gigi's double entry/exit water point blind ✔✔
                     setup second, land point blind at Stoughton DTA (long) ✔✔ 
                           
                              and begin running both point blinds from different lines ✔ 

                     have Gigi begin the big pond point blind ✔✔ run full distance ✔✔                   
                     remote winger walk-ups with mallards or Dokkens ✔D (yard)
                     do close HRC line triples with mallards + blinds
                     practice HRC marking out of a dog hide (getting ready for hunting)✔✔✔✔✔
                     begin running KRD's with Gigi (review with Pounce)

                     yard work (lining & OB practice) every other day (maybe) ✔✔
                     build goose blind on Thorson Pond soon (season opens September 1st)
Aug 11 Tuesday trained at the Gallagher FT property - Walsh Pond....Pounce ran three singles and a blind. Gig ran the three singles. Then on the way home we stopped at the Stoughton FT property. Gigi ran a long point blind on the west side of the property. This was her first day. Using the UTV, she jogged along side to
a big mound on the south side. A white stake and seven Dokkens were planted. Then Gigi ran successively longer lines back to the mound pile. After four increasing line distances (with very few whistle sit handles), Gigi zoom lined the 5th and last line at 267 yards (on the first day). Pounce was two years old when first dealt with this point blind and she needed more whistle sits and handling. I am still somewhat amazed with Gigi's seemingly effortless, natural abilities. The very first point blind she ran, at the Harrison Road DTA, was equally impressive. After two sessions, the white stake will no longer be in the picture (removed). Gigi has three point blinds setup that can now be revisited and lined from different vantage points. The known destination, allows the focus to be more on terrain and other factors to the points (experience in varying factors and "getting there").       note: Journal entries are usually proof read at least three times.               

Aug 1 Saturday - trained in the yard - Pounce did an extended Helter-Skelter lining drill (Hillmann). Gigi

worked on the seven bumper lining drill. In addition to the casting, there was an effort to seek & maintain eye contact ("look at me"...for the next cast) with Gigi.  
Aug 2
Sunday morning - trained in the yard...Pounce again worked on Hillmann's "Helter Skelter" lining drill and the lines were very challenging. Gigi worked on the beginning of graph casting. The target casts were angle back, over and angle in (alternating right and left sides). For a brief change of pace with Gigi (at the midpoint of her session), we practiced the seven bumper lining drill. Then it was back to the graph casting intro to finish the session. Their yard work is actually done in the front yard. (chance of rain this afternoon)  

Aug 16 Sunday - with temperatures staying reasonable..training plans were altered..took the UTV trailer 
off and drove the hour plus drive to the Gallagher Property in Wisconsin. Gigi had another very strong swim-by session on the perfectly designed pond (16X32 yds). Afterwards, the road out went by the big pond and an urge to run the first section of a point blind delayed the trip home. Five Dokkens were planted and by the time we went for the fourth, she had lined/learned the first section of that 187 yard point blind. 

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Aug 18 Tuesday - 60's until 10 am...high in the 70's...slight breeze...made the hour drive to the swim-by pond to continue Gigi work...using the advice in the Swim-By Evolution link, Gigi's work moved away from the old end of the pond presentation. The proper presentation is to have the do swim past the on the longer leg. Gigi again revealed her unique ability to grasp something different rather quickly. Not only was she able to do the regular swim-by, but after exciting was easily cast back into the water with the same bumper and do another swim-by and exit (opposite direction).

The swim-by pond is close to a point blind that Pounce established last year. Therefore, the extra session of
having Pounce run the full blind meant that Gigi could work on her second leg. Gigi has already done the last land section. The middle segment is water ("cheaty" water). Gigi hung in there until the correct line was taken. We locked the gate and left. The Stoughton Property is on the way home. No one was training....so we
stopped and ran the land point blind. Gigi and Pounce both lined it easily (197 yards and not a surprise). Then the running line was move about fifty yards to the west (to the 2nd line) where there is a very different look through a slot of trees. Pounce lined it (no surprise) and Gigi needed only three casts (first time on a new look at a known finish). The mound is a distant picture framed by that narrow slot.  

Funny Story  - I need to write this down before I forget it. This should be prefaced by the fact that my hearing is not all that great.....in fact it is often a problem. Anyway, tomorrow is my 80th birthday. This evening, my wife came up to me as I was focused on editing my Website. She was carrying a package of delicious looking, miniature cupcakes and said, "If you don't make it, maybe you should eat a couple now." I said, "What do you mean by if I don't make it?" and she laughed. Well, I did not hear the part about the fact that Lylah (our autistic granddaughter) was on a sugar binge and wolfing them down just as fast as she could get at them....and if I didn't make it ...drum roll...into the kitchen pretty soon they would be all gone. 
Aug 17 Monday - cool morning..slight breeze..trained fifteen minutes away...Roscoe Riverside Park DTA
The setup was Hillmann's Star Drill (five white stakes in the field with practice on, lining, whistle sits and casting). Thirty retrieves were possible. There were only four bumpers left when we finished. Four of the stations had white bumpers and one was all Dokkens. Gigi was first and this was her very first Star Drill (five points). She has done the three point lining drill often. Her lining was fast and accurate, whistle sits were somewhat loopy and casting was excellent. Distance has never been an issue. Pounce was next and her experience carried the session (not as fast as Gigi, but better sits with precise lines and casts). We were home by 9:30 am and at 2:30 pm both are still sawing wood in the living room.
         note: UTV's are not allowed in the park. This meant the old man had to do a lot of walking today.

Aug 18 Wednesday - did not train
Aug 19
Thursday -  fun morning...trained in the grassy area east of Thorson Pond.....the setup was three remote wingers with mallards using an HRC line...single shot, primer shotgun and three remote wingers...the running dog worked out of a hide while the "honoring" retriever observed closely (staked out). Pounce ran first and did it as a triple. Pounce and Gigi switched places and Gigi did a double followed by a single. The available time for
this morning's training was limited and this setup went quickly. Pounce was focused and polished. Gigi was hot to go and did not seem to appreciate that the tempo was slowed down considerably.

                    note: Hunting season will soon be upon us and it is time to create the atmosphere of doing nothing                                   for quite long periods of time. Therefore, Gigi will do the same setup demonstrated in the
                              following YouTube (Pounce's simulated duck hunt).

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In order to keep training from becoming a compulsive disorder and the simple fact that we will not be attending any tests this year, I am finding it is much more relaxing for everyone (family and dogs) to take regular breaks and do something else. Tomorrow is a day off......from training.   

Aug 7 Friday....no training....day off for everyone....did some yard work - mowed the lawn  
Aug 8 Saturday - somewhere close became morning session in the yard - the setup was a combination lining and handling drill using a dozen Dokkens - The first phase had Gigi staked out observing Pounce's session. It was 12 Dokkens (6 lined to a left side pile and six to a right). The Dokkens were replaced and they were picked up again with angle back casts off a placeboard (alternating angle back left and right casts). Then Pounce was staked out and watched Gigi practice the same thing (24 reps striving for precise reps so as to produce reliable conditioned responses). In addition to lining and handling skills, another
set of "reps" at the line - returning to heel, sit, hold and delivery skills are continually being polished. This is especially significant with Gigi. Being dynamic, excitable and aggressive has become more focused and under control. The afternoon high in the upper 80's will find us cool and resting in the air-conditioning. ​

       note: The last three/four weeks, except for actual, released situations in training sessions, Gigi has                       NOT moved anywhere without a slip lead on (from the minute she wakes up until put to bed for                     the night). The quiet commands of "here", "heel", "sit", "collar" (slip lead leash) are becoming                       automatic reflexes plus heeling (loose lead) are almost an ideal set of responses. 

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YouTube link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h4d4XSde2M

Aug 14 Friday - high in the 80's - trained in the morning doing remote winger walk-ups. Two wingers were setup and Pounce went first. Gigi was next up and then each came back out from their crates in the van for the second round. The launched Dokkens came from behind after a lot of "noise" from the Dogtra electronics and my duck call. "Sit" was signaled via a whistle sit. Precise practice builds solid expectations....in theory. The session went smoothly and both were "amped". We were back in the cool house soon after. 

Aug 15 Saturday - With retriever tests elsewhere and rain forecasts until late in the morning, the plan was to arrive after the morning showers had let up. The morning group was finished. The weather was cool and cloudy....about as good as it gets in August. First up was Gigi with another effective session on the swim-by pond. That did not take long. Then it was Pounce and she ran longer, new lines on the point blind we setup a few days ago. They were all more difficult than the initial line and she did well. Gigi was up next and ran the same point blind. The first go was not very good and we moved up a bit because there are too many angle entry exits. She is not really ready for that.....yet. The most exciting setup was saved for last. Both Gigi and Pounce ran two singles with a full HRC line including a holding blind, place board, HRC bucket, a dog hide and a single shot primer loaded shotgun. The release was not rushed and being steady was the expectation. That went extremely well with both dogs. The most interesting aspect of this setup is that Gigi had not seen a dog hide since she was just 8-9 weeks old. Then it was a game. Basically, it was chase the squeaky toy into a hide.  It was her favorite event. Sixteen months later, it took only a couple of minutes for her to recall the good feelings. Even though she is now 68 pounds, long and lanky, she was lying down, looking out relaxed and ready for action. This kind of suggests that everything you do with a puppy good or bad....they don't really ever forget. It should be noted that the hide is an Avery Ultra Low designed for small retrievers.  

Aug 30 repeated the long wait drill on Thorson Pond and Lylah (granddaughter) came along to help. She is non-verbal autistic and has been helpful carrying equipment. Her skills at following directions has been coming along nicely. As for Pounce and Gigi, precise, specific practice is necessary for a quiet, patient, fun to hunt with retriever. Pounce has experience and helps to provide a specific edge to Gigi's distraction proofing. Gigi is aggressive and intelligent, but focus and control have been challenging. 
Today's setup was four remote wingers in a pod throwing four singles first for Pounce (working out of a dog hide with Gigi staked out close by). After switching places, Gigi ran two singles and then a double.
The long wait between action was controlled by using an I-Phone, 4 minute alarm. During  the wait there was random goose calling and occasional dry primer shots with nothing in the air. Gigi is proving to be a "tough cookie". The desired conditioned response of a calm, quiet retriever is not going to be an easy do.

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Around 1 pm it was in the mid-70's when Lylah and I loaded up Pounce and Gigi for a training trip to the Gallagher Property (field trial grounds). The plan was to teach Gigi her second point blind. The line to a distant mound had a double water entry. Her first land point blind provided a clear view of the destination from beginning to end. This double entry water point blind had the destination disappear from view twice (because of the water entries). Teaching a retriever to remember disappearing "targets" tends to awaken their memory capabilities. In a way, this was kind of a test to see how Gigi would respond and some confusion was expected. She kept trying and became more responsive as the session progressed. By breaking it down into segments, we eventually ended up running it the full distance. It was interesting to see the short segment "aha" lights go on as we built this point blind. This was her second point blind and it was much more challenging than the first. Disappearing destinations must be supported by utilizing memory genetics. That potential must be awakened and nurtured. Today was an excellent beginning.
          note: The UTV continues to be a great motivator for taking Lylah (our autistic granddaughter)
                    and it makes a huge difference in what a 80 year old man can attempt to do.  
​          note: Pounce ran the blind and had no issues with it (especially, since it was a 125 yard cold blind
                    from a 
recent training trip to this area). (Pounce is yellow and Gigi is black.)    

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Aug 20 Friday - day off

Aug 21 Saturday - left at 1 pm (afternoon) to train at the Gallagher Property....with no whistle in the van, doing

swim-by was quickly scrapped. However, a try at a simplified water seven bumper lining drill down the shore was setup using only four bumpers. That went well, but the spacing made it easier. Since we were pressed for time, Pounce did not do anything and Gigi practiced the difficult last two-thirds of the big pond point blind.....with no whistle. That went well. Up until today, she needed to be handled to get into the water and not cheat around the big bay on the right. The last part of the trip was to pick up four live mallards for training. Upon arrival at the duck pen, it was a wasted trip.....empty.  Back at "base camp", the spare whistle was found under the right van seat.

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Aug 31 - Illinois goose season will open tomorrow. The pond is several miles from the Rock River and usually it takes several days for them to become spread out and have the young geese fly any distance.
Therefore, tomorrow will be spent working on the positioning of this season's goose blind (no training).