May 3 trained around noon at the Thorson Pond "Grassy Area". Pounce did the full "off the van to the HRC line practice" twice (two sets of five "in your face" singles...plus two diversions) working on line conditioning and distractions. The HRC line is "busy". In between Pounce's sets, Gigi did a long, free run session with some continued work on imprinting the "here" command.
May 9 Thursday - trained Gigi in the morning doing the table working on "sacking out" and dong "glove fingers" hold. Her mouth remained somewhat resistant and tentative in not wanting to relax and hold gloved fingers. Then suddenly she relaxed. There were several fumbling "in and hold" intervals which were initiated by me. "In the moment" it seemed rather obvious to distract her from the instinctive desire to resist and I gave her a very slight ear pinch. With that distraction her mouth opened, in went the small bumper and hold she already kind of understood. I said "out" before she did so. She was immediately rewarded with a good bit of body and leg "sacking". This routine was "rinsed and repeated" about five times. The ear pinches were not much and worked more as a focusing distraction. The result was a good solid "hold" after a responsive fetch ending with a well timed "out" and verbal reward. The slight ear pinch seemed simply to "clear the fog". It should be noted that Gigi was aggressively attacking and fetching bumpers before. However, it was more of an instinctive "attack and kill" reaction. Holding and out were clearly not part of her motivations. The pinch in this case is not making her do something, but more of an external distraction which disengaged her instinctive drives. With just a few reps it was almost "OK, I get this.....now." This moment reveals a few basic rules for teaching and training. The first is "Be fair with the dog." The second is "Do what the dog needs." The third a "A trainer's job is to adjust." and "Sometimes thinking outside of the box is necessary."
Then there is the other issue. Pounce went to her first group training session this evening and was totally out of control. When airing she was peeing everywhere and often. It was not a good drive home. Later, I searched through the past journals for her heat cycles. She pees a lot plus "nutty and wild" when in heat. The past several years her spring heat cycle was over before the end of April. We are just exiting an unusually cold winter that lingered with very little training. Pounce had no heat cycle this spring....yet?
Therefore, I did two "things" this evening. The first was to withdraw her from the two early June HRC hunt tests and the second will be to wait and see if she comes into heat later this spring. Wishful thinking is a useful ploy (sometimes). The trend of her heat cycles makes testing a challenge (too
many "reps" in "ditz mode").
dates of the last three spring heat cycles (fall cycle is normally in September)
April 14, 2017 end....April 15, 2018 end.....March-April...to May 10, 2019 nothing|
Presently, there is about a two-three month window for testing (at best) and 4-5 months with "issues".
On another good note, Gigi came out on a leash, sat nicely and watched the marks being thrown in this evening's setup.......all the way to the ground. Then her eyes tracked the working dog out and back go the line. The evening was not a total loss.
May 10 Friday a mid-day trip to the vet resulted in an appointment to spay Pounce next Thursday. It was my decision. This will not change any of her present conditioned responses. However, training will no longer be impacted by hormonal fluctuations and no time will be lost from being unable to run in tests (because of being in heat). Pounce was not purchased to be bred.
note: Pounce had the day off and Gigi repeated yesterday's indoor "fun" PLUS added a
huge "step up" in the OB session. Gigi is now heeling with a bumper in her mouth.
May 11 Saturday morning early....Gigi did another indoor training session. The first part was a session on the table. That went very well. The start of fetch and hold is a "done deal". After the table session we went right into her regular OB "practice". She is very consistent with a loose lead. While in the heeling part of the OB, she was periodically put on a sit and a bumper "presented" followed by the "fetch" command. We moved immediately to heeling with the "hold"command while in motion with intervals of "sit, hold and out". This was "rinsed and repeated" several times. All of the following commands.....heel, sit, front, down, place, fetch, hold, out and leave it are now understood (she has not begun teething....yet). The next phase will be precise practice and a great deal of repetition with distractions proofing.
note: The fetch process with Gigi did not exactly follow the Hillmann's approach. There is
"wild to retrieve" and "too wild to retrieve". With Gigi there was no rewarding way to
create any balance in reducing her instinctive tendencies to "shake and kill". The
table provided a manner in which to approach things from a different direction. note: During the next few weeks Hillmann's collar reinforcing of commands will begin.
note: Pounce will have a few weeks off from training.
May 12 This morning, Gigi repeated yesterday morning's indoor session and did some OB "people" distraction proofing at the local Lowe's "Big Box" Lumber Store. In the afternoon, Gigi had a long , "free run" in the Thorson DTA "bean field erosion strip".
May 13 Monday - first up was a solid session of indoor OB (see previous entries). In the late afternoon, Gigi
had her first long walk in the huge Rockton Road DTA in knee high, lush green cover. While there....a few Dokkens were tossed off a Hillmann "sit". She was doing well at watching on sit (Hillmann). The AOF's were close, but the high green grass made her search (this was new territory). She was persistent and successful. In addition, her returns revealed some definite improvement. However, the real reason for being there was to burn off a bit of the edge for the AKC Puppy OB class at 6 PM. This was a very "never dull moment" day.
May 14 another day off for Pounce....At noon, Gigi did a new session developing a simple retrieve wearing an eight foot lead and a flat collar in a semi-confined space.....sit on "placeboard", watch "Chuck-It Ball" bounce to a stop, "fetch/Gigi" release, return to "placeboad" with a wheel "heel" and "sit"/"hold"/"out".....repeated seven times with a "slowing down" delay between each "go".
note: The previously conditioned responses of being cast to and returning from multiple
"placeboards" was already well in place (no pun intended).
The goal was for her to discover that she gets to do more than one "chase and retrieve". She is a quick study. The "goal" next time will be to slow down and transition to a brief OB session between "retrieves". Before birds are introduced, her "mouth training" and responsiveness must be very well conditioned.
May 15 Wednesday....trained Gigi at the Roscoe Rock River Retention Pond. Spring floods create a shallow water area with a great deal of exciting lunging water. This is the perfect place for a young pup to learn the excitement of water when it begins with lunging. A high energy entry into water early on is a lasting "game changer". It was in the 70's, sunny and no wind.....perfect. Gigi is five and a half months old. This was her first day of water retrieves......very cool.
May 23 warm day - It has been a week since Pounce's surgery and she's had no issues. She will be given a couple more days and the "fun" will gradually begin anew. Gigi's second day of "cart" construction went well ("sit", steady, two yard fetches, "here", front sit, "hold" and out"...rinsed and repeated several times. Brief interludes of "walking at heel while holding a bumper" were mixed in. In the afternoon, Gigi worked on the skill sets for her AKC Puppy Class (four more sessions). Then at about 10 PM, Gigi did a late night practice session of the "cart construction" skill set. In addition, Gigi again did quite a bit of heeling while carrying a bumper. Lastly, she practiced several remote sit - "here" repetitions. June 2nd, she will be six months old. She is already taller/longer than Pounce.
note: Gigi's present training process is best described by the phrase "Taming the Beast".
May 24 rainy morning, high low 70's, "sunny & windy" afternoon...day off for Pounce. In the morning, Gigi practiced everything she did yesterday. Good session! This evening, Gigi did a full set of reps working on the "five yard circle at the line" skills.
May 25 Saturday - Gigi continued working on the ""five yard circle at the line" reps.....twice.
May 26 Sunday - Gigi repeated what she has been doing...more "practice" in the morning (indoors). In the afternoon, the line practice outside was "rained out". Daisy did nothing (again). Pounce will begin exercising (easy free runs soon) to transition back toward regular training (recent "surgery").
note: When Gigi began the "close to the line" work, her instincts to "shake" the retrieved object was reduced considerably by no longer having her retrieve Dokkens. There are too many "moving parts" with the Dokken which tend to increase the excitement. Very quickly, the head shaking has been eliminated. However, it will be quite some time for her to develop a reliably quiet mouth. Her prey drive will not diminish. It will simply (hopefully) be better channeled.....in theory.
I am thinking real birds will be "quite an adventure".
May 27 Monday - rain & no time to begin training Pounce. Gigi did more inside training.
May 28 Tuesday - rain in the afternoon, "yardwork" was reduced to mowing the lawn. Gigi did more indoor work (twice)
May 29 Wednesday rain in the morning....Trained Gigi indoors once and the rest of the day was too "busy"...no training. After working the first few months with Gigi and based on previous setups with Pounce, the approach to a training regimen base on a steady diet of "stand alone/send back singles" will be modified (considerably). The concept of allowing "the dog" to be "in charge" at the line (because you are not there) creates conditioned responses contrary to actual testing situations. Based on the early training of Gigi this will be even more of an issue than it was with Pounce. Training with wingers will keep me "at the line" plus any group training that can be "worked in" will be better. Both dogs will need more consistency "at the line". I was convinced that training quite often using a "remote line and send backs" was efficient and effective. One out of two is only 50%.
May 30 Thursday - more rain & Lylah is out of school.......complications!!! Early morning was used to work on Gigi's up close OB. The skies cleared in the afternoon and three wingers were setup in the Thorson Pond DTA grassy area. Pounce did the "off the van" routine and ran three "close" remote winger singles while Gigi watched from the van. After Pounce's run, Gigi did her very first remote winger singles. She was very steady at the line and the release was not rushed. Her focus was intense with no motion as the bumper flew through the air before disapearing in lush, angle high grass. Her return was perfect until she was about ten yards away. The close, "slow down" to a heel is not in place. More practice is needed. Both then did a repeat of the setup. Gigi was better, but the close specific training is not yet a conditioned response.
May 31 Early morning had Gigi working indoors on the "close the the line" routine. Late morning, Lylah went along for a brief training session which was a repeat of yesterday's three remote winger singles (only one set). Pounce is still tapping her front feet while Gigi is like a statue. On the way home, the decision to check up close how much duck week is growing on the pond resulted in
getting the van stuck in the mud. In all the many years of training and hunting the Thoreson Pond DTA, this has never happened before.
May 4 upper sixties train morning/afternoon...At 7 am Gigi did her second session on the "sacking out" table. This is going well. After the "table session", she did the full OB routine....heeling left and right sides
at varying speeds, many stops to sit automatically plus backward, one step to a sit intervals, "heeling" backwards facing me, "here" from a remote sit to a front sit with "wheels" to right/left side sit positions, extended "sit and down" positions at the end of a six foot lead plus walking around her as she remains in the position. In addition, she does 90°/180° tight wheel turns (left/right). These skills are beginning to be practiced outdoors where there are more distractions. Her first AKC Puppy Class is Monday May 6th (strange place/people/dogs distraction practice).
note: Gigi was five months old two days ago (no signs of teething yet).
Pounce and Gigi trained in the afternoon at the Four Lakes DTA (warm, sunny and not much wind).
The setup had five remote wingers launching Dokkens around the small technical pond. Pounce ran four singles, a blind and a diversion with an "HRC line". There were two holding blinds with a long walk between each where we worked on heeling. The off the van to the line routine was practiced (again). Gigi was able to watch Pounce's work from the van (been doing this often).
After Pounce was finished, Gigi came off the van "practicing" the same routine then did several Hillmann steady sit retrieves. Delivery is a "work in progress". When that was completed, the equipment (wingers, holding blinds, Dokkens at the line) was picked up slowly. I used one arm to carry "stuff" and Gigi walked
at heel on the other side (back and forth several times). The last things to "pick up" were the bucket, gun and gun stand. I sat on the bucket and Gigi sat right beside me and glanced up "like she knew what to do". Sooo....I could not resist. She's been watching Pounce at the line and heard primer reports many times already. She sat right there and was totally cool with five HRC primer gun shots. She heeled back to the van like an older dog. This was more walking than the usual, but working Gigi off the van to the field each day has been well worth the effort. Doing "stuff" in context with a puppy is a good thing. On the way back, Gigi spotted a turkey vulture flying above and watched it for a long time. It was a good day in the field.
May 5 Sunday sunny and warm...Early morning, Gigi did another session of "sacking" on the table.
This went so well, that we moved on to the very first stages of "mouth conditioning". Afterwards, an extended review session (and practice) of her OB skills was completed.
In the afternoon, Pounce and Gigi trained at the Four Lakes DTA. Pounce did ten "walk around send back" singles on the technical pond. Gigi did the "off the van routine" plus several Hillmann "Traffic Cop" singles with a Dokken. There was not much equipment to pick up (place board and a stickman). Afterwards, Pounce ran a new "Point Blind" (four lines) at the Harrison Road DTA.
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May 21 With rain in the forecast ten out of the next fourteen days, "radar windows" will be very important. Next Monday is Memorial Day which means Gigi's six session OB class with have a one week break in the middle (that's good). Pounce shrugged off her surgery very quickly, but the full ten days off "post operative" care (until may 26th) will be followed.
note: Gigi did here usual indoor training routine (more practice).
May 22 Wednesday - 81°F....Gigi "did' water at the Roscoe Retention Pond (again). While doing so the "Horse Before the Cart" proverb was clearly displayed. Gigi is going on six months old fast and instinctively blessed with the "Thrill of the Chase". However, a skill loaded, responsive return is not in place.
May 1 morning rain...high of 60°F...train...Pounce did one HRC "triple" with a blind and diversion using Dokkens. One Dogtra remote was an issue, but the setup was completed. The plan was to do a "Flip/Flop" (two triples), but that was scrapped. Gigi did a brief, free run working on the "Here" plus 4-5 Hillmann short "Traffic Cop" retrieves. The "Off the Van To The Line" routine was done and then a long heeling walk was done in a large grassy area where the distractions had her struggling (with heeling). Eventually, this transitioned to a much better heeling position as the distractions became less so. This evening Gigi will practice her OB routine and do another session of "hold". Her OB is coming along nicely. However, her prey drive is so instinctively high that holding quietly is not going to happen easily. Her behavior with any fetch object is best described by "attack, shake, kill and chew". She is somewhat oblivious of any external input. I am considering going to a "hand and leather glove in mouth" routine for hold (to simplify the situation). For obvious reasons I have avoided doing any real birds.
May 2 Last night was spent doing quite a bit of time reviewing the "glove in mouth process". The best link was . This process precedes Force Fetch and in addition very specific information was supplied via emails. The approach is designed to develop a stronger and better handler/dog engagement bond and is especially useful for a dog like Gigi (self-employed, very high drive instincts..personal opinion/analysis). Best of all, the process is will mesh seamlessly (eventually) with Hillmann's fetch process. The "mechanical setup" was mostly completed by 3 pm today with a few "loose ends" to finish. It rained all day....perfect timing.
May 6 Monday morning early - trained Gigi in a "table session" (2nd effort - mouth conditioning (measurable progress) and practiced OB skills, In the afternoon, Pounce repeated the May 3rd HRC line practice. Gigi practice her "off the van to the line" routine and then went for a good long, free walk up the erosion strip. She probably covered ten times as much ground as I did. Gigi is doing well with the "extended arms" signal for "here" (long distances). Remote sit is very good...it is time to begin work on whistle sit.
note: Gigi's 1st AKC Puppy OB class was at 6 PM at "Forest City DTC". The class was full (very crowded) and many were obviously beginners. Gigi did very well and soon relaxed into "good form". This class will be perfect for distraction proofing. The instructor was insistent on doing things "his ways" (some of which are contrary to field performances.....but we will deal with it.
May 7 Tuesday - Gigi trained in the morning.....practicing yesterday's "table" and "OB" skills...The weather does not look very good for any yard work for the next several days (rain). Pounce had the day off while the "other" yard work was taken care of (left over leaves, fallen tree branches and suddenly tall lawn grass). In the early evening after feeding, Gigi did a half hour tether session on the living room floor (up close and personal).
note: The rest of this month will include training in group sessions (as many as possible).
May 8 Wednesday...this morning Gigi repeated yesterday's table work and did the full indoor OB session with an addition of whistle sits. In the afternoon, a "radar window" in the rainy forecast opened and Pounce did another HRC line practice at the Four Rivers DTA. The wind was 20+ miles mph out of the east with the van making an excellent wind break. Five Gunners Up wingers were set up in a line. The first set was five singles with an "off the van to the line" routine practiced five different times. There are several "ques" at the line which mean sit - the click of a gun safety (on or off), loading or "shucking" a shell and a duck call (all mean sit). The second set was five "walk-ups" (each out the holding blind) and the third set was thee singles each with a diversion. The strong tail wind (20+ mph out of the east) had the Dokkens "flying very, very high and far".
note: The focus of the HRC setup was "precise practice and repetition with distractions"
that is the foundation of Hillmann's description of conditioned responses.
The "Cart" is presently under construction "ala" the following instructions by Hillmann.
note: a precise two yard "up close" session covered
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"Gigi's early beginning of remote handling"
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May 16 Pounce went to the Vet early and back home in the afternoon. Gigi had the day off.
May 17 Friday...Pounce is on "administrative leave" for several days. Gigi had another day off.
May 18 trained Gigi - one session....indoor training area plus several routine movements doing
the daily "stuff" with a bumper in her mouth.....Pounce had another day off (recovering quickly).
May 19 Sunday - Gigi and Pounce repeated yesterday
May 20 Gigi did another indoor session and began doing remote position casts to a "placeboard"
that is about 25 yards from her. Pounce remains on RR. This afternoon, Gigi will do a "good walk"
in the uplands (to release some "steam") before attending her third AKC Puppy OB Class at 6 pm.
note: Refer to the April 7th YouTube journal entry for Gigi's early "placeboard" training.
note: Gigi's OB class was another "winner" in terms of exposing to distractions. There are
about twenty young dogs in the class and the action is non-stop for a full hour. The
first two sessions were run by a man with a "booming" voice. It was difficult to
understand what he was saying. A lady ran the session today....not nearly as loud
but actually easier to understand what she was saying.