Kelly Meyer DTA
Dec 8 Sunday Gigi is a year old and it is winter in northern Illinois (no water). Training will require further developing OB skills, handling (lining and casting) and marking. A gradual intro to birds is underway. The five areas to juggle and keep in balance are retrieving, "birdiness", responsiveness, focus and control. It is a challenge to avoid making control more important than the other four. Fun is the motivation. Responsiveness is the "glue" that binds balance. Therefore, when setting up sessions the focus is on balance between using marks with birds vs. bumpers, handling (casting vs. lining), OB and distraction proofing. Keeping a detailed journal is necessary. Plan ahead....repeat yesterday's work. And spend time specifically working on Gigi's return to heel (the mechanics).
note: Reduce the "stand alone/send back" singles distance. Gigi looses her "connection"
with the line requiring walking back closer to get a return. Went too long too soon.
Retrieving is NOT an issue (very, very fast, flashy and accurate).
This afternoon, training was again at the Kelly Myer DTA. The plan was to 1) work on Gigi skill at returning to heel with a retrieve. This is a conditioned response and is much better when there is a "placeboard" in the heeling position. Therefore, this session was altered to continue working with the "crutch" and it was a "night and day' difference. Gigi did three "stand alone/send back" singles in the Y-Drill format (angle back, flat on the opposite side and an angle in (on the angle back side). Gigi was given a break while Pounce ran two much longer Y-Drills ("stand alone/end backs". Gigi then came back out for her first day of working on the "Seven Bumper Lining Drill". Using a "placeboard" at the line, Gigi "rattled off" the first three steps in this drill easily. She was a very quick study with the process and responded to push/pull right away. (refer to Nov 7th journal entry). Finally, we moved to the "Three Handed Casting" area. Her 2nd session was exceptional. First, she was cast to a "placeboard" several yards away where she turned
and faced me (been doing this quite often on the "stand alone" singles). Then she watched bumpers tossed behind her (one at a time on both sides). Each time, when hearing "look," she turned her head back toward me to see what was next. She received a "good" for looking at me and then a cast. She did about eight of those alternating each side without "missing beat". After doing three handed casting with my previous five labs, today was "aaaah" different.
Dec 9 rain all day.....probably won't train outdoors
Dec 1, 2 Saturday & Sunday...wet, cold & windy...Thorson Pond was free of ice. However, it was free of geese, also. They must be feeding at night and spending daylight loafing on Legend Lake. Gigi trained once each day (indoors). The "issue" of growling and shaking anything she picks up has been greatly reduced. Retrieving a goose wing and practicing OB with one in her mouth appears to have been a good transition to real birds (soon).
Dec 3 Monday 1 am...based on yesterday's scouting...waiting one more day with extra scouting is the plan...not confident that it is a good one though.....freezing weather? Gigi continued to make excellent progress with today's precise practice session.
Dec 4 Tuesday - scouted for geese (twice)....about three hundred plus spent the entire day loafing on Legend Lake. Thorson Pond had some ice early. It was a day off for every one.
Dec 5 Based on the weather forecast and geese activity, it is over. In the morning, Gigi did a training session indoors (warm) working on her "close up" retrieving skill set. During the blustery, 40°F afternoon, Pounce and Gigi trained in the Thorson Pond Grassy Area. Pounce did a very fast seven "stand alone/send back" singles while Gigi watched from the van. Gigi did seven singles in the same setup that Pounce just completed. Her marks were just a bit shorter. After Gigi ran her singles, two white stakes were place about 45° apart at thirty yards. Gigi was sat at the line and watched me drop a bumper in front of each stake. After returning to the line, Gigi was lined up and cast "back" to each bumper. This was a totally new presentation (outdoors) which was repeated four times. The "light" was dim....at first. However, on the fourth go it was "OK, I get this!"
note: Gigi has been casting to a place board and lined to bumpers indoors (often). In addition,
she has been doing "over" casting. Each session finishes with retrieves of a goose wing.
Dec 6 Thursday - high 44°F...next Tuesday single digit temps....Because of the bright sun, today's training sessions was done at the Kelly Myer DTA. Gigi was first and did a simple lining drill to pick up a bumper at each of two white stakes placed in a 45° angle at about forty yards. Then she did a short "stand alone/walk back" double. The finishing setup was six "stand alone/send back" singles
that were longer than any she has done before. The last three required moving back toward the line to make it an easier send. The distance was not an issue...laser lined each one....very fast. Distance is not going to be an issue. Next up was Pounce and she did eight "stand alone/send back" singles....fast and very sharp. Both slept well the rest of the day.
note: Legend Lake and Thorson Pond were frozen over (no geese).
Thorson Pond Goose Hunt Decoy Setup
Nov 6 Friday....high 36°F....day off for Pounce and Gigi but mostly for Kwick
Nov 7 Saturday - warmer.......Pounce had the day off. Gigi ran a simple "Stand Alone" double with an angle back (on one side) and flat (on the other side). This was very easy for her. The 2nd setup was was the first segment of teaching the seven bumper lining drill (very easy). Next up was seven "stand alone/send back" singles extending out to 150 yards. We then moved a short distance to a spot that is ideal for teaching Three Handed Casting (using a long lead, a 3" bumper and place board). Gigi did well on the intro. This was again at the Kelly Myer Park DTA.
right click on icon for larger pnhoto
Three Handed Casting
The first stage is to teach the left and right backs individually (before doing any "overs"). Determine the pup's dominant turn direction and do more back casts on the "weak" side.
note: In today's intro, Gigi had no issues with pivoting right or left. Also, her
eye contact was excellent.
The first stage uses a technique of "identifying" targets. "Identifying" is done by throwing a bumper to a position (or other bumpers). Next up is to work on the left and right "overs" individually keeping it simple and balanced. When the pup begins to understand, begin combining a "back" with an "over" sequence wheeling away from the side with an "over" bumper. A further deepening of casting skills can be done by teaching a pup to cast "back" wheeling toward the side with an "over" bumper. Eventually, all four casts are combined.
note: This is not a one day drill. Keep each session short. Follow the standards of
quality teaching. Example: Start with what was taught the lesson before (review). Next, present something new (introduce & teach). Lastly, do something she isz
good at (finish on a positive note).
note: When beginning this drill, tossing of a bumper to the back position will have a
pup instinctively tracking it. If the pup is steady (must be), they will look back at
you for input. Nurture this moment (praise and do not rush the cast). Building
responsiveness is a process. Most of all, this is fun and taught with a calm, quiet voice. Work slowly and let the pup think about their responses. Well timed praise
is "gold". This is a priceless time to enhance the teacher student relationship.
Teamwork is a concept. "It's not you or me....it's us."
note: Early on, Gigi was conditioned to a "place board". At first she was fed on one.
Later, OB had her routinely walking over, sitting on and working from remote sits
off it. In this drill, Gigi knows that's where she is supposed to be and ready for
"what's next" (conditioned response). As the drill progresses, Gigi returns with a
simple hand motion to the "place board" (where she turns around and "squares
up" ready for more action). The best location to start the drill is with a slight
incline behind a pup. When pivoting, a "back" bumper is very easy to see.
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