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Mar 19 - Saturday...in the forties with rain...Gigi trained indoors and Pounce had the day off.
Mar 20 - Sunday...62°F - Gigi and Pounce trained in the yard...OB in, out and of two holding blinds with two "walk-ups". Then both worked a pile of bumpers (two lined, then two whistle sits with right and left back casts). Pounce ran a disciplined lined/cast and returned (bumper in mouth). In the afternoon, the dogs' airing yard was limed using a ScottsTurf Builder Edgeguard Mini Broadcast Spreader.
Mar 21 - Monday 71°F - Gigi and Pounce trained in the yard. In the evening, Gigi was supposed to attend her AKC OB class (3rd session), but left knee issues (mine) resulted in cancelling. There is a class session make-up process.
Mar 24 - Thursday...high 41°F with rain...not good...I spent most of the morning renewing my driver's license. Both dogs were relaxing more than normal. I decided to give them the day off. No one argued.
Mar 25 - Friday...high 41°F with rain in the morning and then west to northwest winds gusting up to 45 mph expected. Localized gusts to 60 mph possible then showers through early evening. Gigi trained in the late morning (indoors) and Pounce did her session in the afternoon.
Mar 26 - Saturday...high 35°F windy with snow showers this morning...Partly cloudy later...winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. (chance of snow 70%...higher wind gusts possible) "In like a lion out like a lamb"...NOT
Pounce and Gigi did a brief big "mallard in mouth" OB session...indoors and comfy.
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A few days ago, my Sony Handy Cam (HDR-CX500 that recorded many YouTube training videos was uncovered in a box of "stuff". After charging, it required some effort to get back up to speed. It seemed simpler this time. I found a cord that connected the camera directly to my computer. Since I have a YouTube account, I can store videos and easily access/present them online. I have not done any in the past year or so. For practice, I went back to old video files recorded a few years ago, selected one and went through the process of learning how to add new videos to my KwickLabs YouTube Channel.
In the next few days, training will move out to the yard on grass. For the next month, Pounce and Gigi will begin working up close using the tactics developed in the following link.
Mar 7 - Monday....some of the snow has melted...Pounce and Gigi trained indoors working on the same things we did yesterday. In the evening, Gigi attended the first day of her AKC OB class. I arrived early to let her soak up old memories. The familiar noise of the previous, earlier class dredged up anxieties from that past. The plan was to just sit there and do nothing while the other classes trained. It is very noisy because a sound system generates a high, loud volume of barking dogs. There are about twenty plus dogs in Gigi's class. The two other rings are twice as big with many more advanced dogs. After Gigi's half-hour wait before her class, I decided to remove the choker and replace it with a pinch. After a few minutes, she was more pliable and did OK (not great, but better than before). Since my hearing is not good and the sound system is very loud, the verbal instructions provided by the teachers did not usually compute. Therefore, I depended on observing what everyone else was doing and attempted to copy it (kind of). The first day description was just OK with plenty of room for improvement.
Mar 8 - Tuesday...high of 38°F...I was up early in order to be at the door to Farm & Fleet before it opened. They are the nearest DNR Vendor and I wanted to be first in line to purchase a Boone County turkey permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There were nine permits remaining. Not soon after going to the door (early), there were seven more applicants lined up waiting for the 8 am store opening. The clerk entered my data and the Internet was very slow. However, I soon had my third turkey permit (total = one for April 11-15 and two for May 5-12). Gigi and Pounce trained indoors developing the "no verbals/watch me" skill set.
Mar 9 - Wednesday...high of 38°F (snow has melted fast)...Pounce trained indoors working off lead with as few verbals as possible. The emphasis continues to be the "watch me" focus. Gigi trained wearing a pinch collar during the OB segment of her session. This is because she using it in her AKC OB class. Her retrieving segment was off lead. Gigi & Pounce's HRC tests may begin in early June (90 days).
As I get older it becomes necessary to search for information to make things easier. The urge to hunt turkeys (for the first time) began with the fact that I knew nothing about turkeys. I do know that there are many very close to where I live. Therefore, I did a search (to reduce the learning curve). The following link was filed away and will definitely "make things easier". note: I intend to use a shotgun.
Gigi has two more session in her AKC OB class. In this week's class, three hula hoops were placed in a line and each dog was suppose to "sit" in the first, "stand" in the second and "down" in the last. Gigi's command for "stand" is "whoa" and she does each command quickly.
Mar 10,11 - Thursday/Friday...upper 20s next week becoming much warmer (50's+)..Pounce repeated what she did Wednesday with Friday off. Gigi trained Thursday and Friday. Their indoor training is designed to promote balance in the five factors (retrieving, "birdiness", responsiveness, focus and control). The "watch me" concept tends to engage the last three. Conditioned responses involving retrieving and "birdiness" must be precise...slow down, practice up close and watch me.
Mar 12 - Saturday - high of 25°F...It warmed up into the upper 50's. However, Gigi and Pounce trained
indoors focusing on OB and retrieving. The "retrieving" skills at the line are repeated many times with the emphasis on a precise routine (establishing exacting bumper in mouth habits with no verbal commands).
Mar 13 - Sunday - high of 53°F....Gigi did the usual indoor session stressing the "watch me" conditioned responses (late morning). In the afternoon, Gigi and Pounce trained in the yard (outdoors) doing on lead OB practice heeling in, out and around two holding blinds. In addition, Pounce did four walk-ups. Gigi was taken to the driveway and worked on her OB heeling skills plus an extended, remote down with a distraction. During the remote down three adults with children in strollers walked by. The warm, sunny weather was wonderful. note: Gigi's subtle, silent "shadow shot" was a pleasant surprise.
March 1 - Tuesday..high 50°F and snow is gone..Gigi's AKC OB class begins the 7th (7 pm).
note: Vet appoint March 4th at 4:30 PM - fecal exam and Bordetella Vaccination
Gigi's training focus is primarily on the skill sets required in her upcoming AKC OB class. In order to avoid negatively engaging the instructor with the concept of using treats, we are practicing with treats. Gigi's has always been somewhat mouthy with bumpers and birds. Therefore, her penchants along those lines needs to be a bit more gentle so as to avoid my having bloody fingers. For a few days, it was "nip and tuck" (no pun intended). However, the last two days have shown steady improvement. The skill set is complicated and requires focus. The carryover from performing a rapid sequence of sit, down and stand for examination is shaping up nicely. The results are producing a much more focused, under control and responsive dog. Creating a responsive retriever requires finesse. Gigi is motivated to think and react precisely (AKC OB treats). note: The following links are being used to increase teaching skills.
Mar 14 - Monday - high of 53°F...Gigi trained indoors (morning)...Pounce trained at 4:30 pm in the yard. She was off lead heeling in, out and around two holding blinds. There were several whistle sit walk-ups (see photo in yesterday's journal entry). Today's "watch me" responsiveness factor was a function of which leg I step off with first. Left leg (me), Pounce moves at heel. Right leg (me), Pounce remains sitting.
This evening was Gigi's second OB class. After the first few minutes, she calmed down and was doing much better than the first day.
Mar 15 - Tuesday - high of 57°F.....Gigi trained in the yard working on "bumper in mouth" OB plus a few walk-ups and a couple of lot long marks. Pounce had the day off.
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Mar 31 - last gasp from the "weak" lion, snow with a high of 39°F...Gigi and Pounce trained indoors. The focus was on OB precision. Gigi is working on lead while Pounce is not. Heeling skills are practiced by paying attention to the motions of the handler. Retrieving skills are practiced from a simulated test line.
You Tube Link:
The following information is a topic that is rarely discussed in dog training. Physical Influence is the result of a dog's awareness of his surroundings. The trainer and his physical actions are being read every second by the dog. They must be consistent and repeatable. When consistency is practiced the dog soon gathers a set effective conditioned responses. It is not necessary to use verbal commands to organize a sequence of behaviors. One example is demonstrated in the following video of a young retriever learning how to respond to a trainer in an upland setting. The reward for the dog is finding
birds. Dogs instinctively will quarter. A trainer that walks in a zag-zag path will influence the dog to "stay in touch" by moving back and forth in front of the trainer. With planted Chukars in the field, the young dog soon realizes that doing what seems natural results in finding birds (the reward). In addition, the inexperienced dog soon realizes that success and excitement seem to be impacted buy the movement of the trainer. By doing so in kind of a contrived manner, the quartering instinct is engage and the dog is now responding to their instincts to quarter. The decision to "watch me" (more closely) is engaged. When fully engaged and practiced with birds being shot, the trainer no longer needs to walk in a zig-zag pattern and an upland dog will soon learn how to follow the scent and where the birds are more likely to be. It is significant to accept the fact that there is a huge difference in the skill sets required to deal with wild birds vs. hunting preserve/planted birds. Upland hunting does not require a continuous use of verbal commands (and neither does the well trained retriever). A well trained upland dog knows where you are and what it supposed to do.
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Mar 17- Thursday - high of 63°F...Cleaned out the van and stored a bunch of hunting equipment in the shed.
Started the UTV and let it run for awhile. The battery held a charge all winter. Getting ready to do some dog yard maintenance (grass cover is sketchy). In a few weeks, lime will be first followed by chopped straw and grass seed (where needed). Gigi and Pounce did their yard training sessions in the afternoon. Drove to the site where a turkey hunting blind will be placed. X marks the spot and low tree limbs will soon have leaves.
Mar 29 - Tuesday...high 41°F...25 mph winds..Gigi will train indoors doing OB mallard in mouth heeling
with a session of walking fetch. Pounce will work off lead doing the same mallard work as Gigi.
Mar 30 - Wednesday...in the 50's with rain in the afternoon...It is a five minute drive to the Thorson Pond DTA. Pounce and Gigi need to begin doing more aerobic exercise (which we cannot do indoors). Eight bumpers were spread out to make a pile and the running line was at 100 yards. The plan was to practice
the routine of getting off the van to do a training session. First, the dog is sitting and waiting with the crate door to open for a couple of minutes. Second is coming out the crate and sitting in front of the crate (in the van) for a couple of minutes while I walk all the way around the van (out of sight). The third step is hopping out of the van and sitting immediately beside me just outside of the van for a couple of minutes (on lead). Up next is a walk on lead to a place nearby to air (off lead if we are alone or on a long rope when there are distractions). Then we usually walk to the line off lead (where the training setup is). After
running the setup, a lead goes only after they have walked a short distance from away the line and then taken back to the van...every time!
Mar 22 - Tuesday...high of 53°F - Gigi had a visit to the Vet at 9 am (heart worm test). Arriving early for her appointment provided some time for Pounce to run seven singles in an adjacent, grassy field (cast "back" to various remote positions and retrieve singles). Gigi's 3rd OB class (missed on Monday) was
attended this evening at 6 pm (make-up session/same instructor). There has been a noticeable change for the good with Gigi. She is becoming more focused and responsive. "Things" are slowing down.
Mar 23 - Wednesday...high of 53°F and breezy...steady rain beginning around 2 pm....both dogs are sleeping and decided to give them a day off. The van was loaded with everything needed to build the turkey blind. With rain today and more coming, the grassy area surrounding the blind site will become too soggy. Therefore, construction was finished this afternoon (early). It went quickly and is ready to use. On the way home, just south of Thorson Pond a few turkeys were "scouted". Turned west and there were two turkeys out in a corn field. Finishing the blind and then seeing a few here and there was cool.
Mar 4- Friday...Gigi had a vet appointment at 4:30 pm. Arrived a bit early....no wait...CoVid mask. Gigi was a different dog this visit. She was spade on December 20 (about eleven weeks ago). That went smoothly and then the digestive issues were dealt with. Whip worms were probable. She was treated with Fenbendazole. The third step was to change her diet to ProPlan 30-20 Beef and Rice (better food, less bulk). Training began to improve after the health related anxiety issues were taken care of.
Mar 5 - Saturday...high of 64°F, in the 50's tomorrow and snow on Monday...typical March weather. Both dogs trained this afternoon. What we have just begun blends well with what Gigi and Pounce have been doing. The link posted March 4th provides an approach to having a responsive retriever. The following are key excerpts from "Force or Correction "Reconditioning a Dog's Mind" (refer to March 3rd link).
1) "Dogs by nature are silent communicators."
2) "Training plus Motivation plus Consistency equals trained Response."
3) "The main ingredients of the rehabilitation process is a dog must focus on the thrown bird
while maintaining a peripheral focus on the handler's movement and cues."
4) "The dog's part is simple: All she has to do is respond to what the handler is doing. The
handler has to RETRAIN his own motor skills to respond quickly to what the dog is doing."
5) "The handler's responses must be second nature. Remember, if you speak or give
commands then you just took the responsibility off the dog."
Mar 6 - Sunday.. some rain last night...snow is forecast for later...Gigi and Pounce worked on heeling backwards and forwards while I am attempting to avoid any verbal commands...."Watch me and do it". Gigi is working with a leash while Pounce is "working" without one. Gigi's "sit". "down" and "whoa" are almost there without using verbal commands. Both dogs did several fun retrieves to finish the sessions.
Hillman's "come up" command for going to the line is almost perfect for both (and the verbal command has being discarded). A slight hand signal (waggle) is used to engage that step. It is kind of fun to walk forward and have the dog sit when I stop. The dog remains sitting as I walk off on the right foot (dog doesn't move). I then proceed to walk forward, sit on the HRC bucket and then give a silent hand waggle signal to have the dog come forward and sit beside me (at the HRC line). There are no verbal commands because the dog is conditioned to "watch me". I do not have to say "sit" (beside me) because they have been conditioned to do that. Then it becomes HRC "busier". (refer back to #4)
note: On walk-ups "bird in the air" means sit (I stop, no verbal, no whistle, watch me, dog sits).
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Mar 18 - Friday - high of 47°F with rain all day...Pounce and Gigi trained indoors.....pleasant, productive
session. To make the turkey blind, Fast Grass panels backed with plastic fencing have been prepared. Green, metal fence posts will provide a supporting frame. The panels/stakes will be "tied" together with many plastic clamps. The blind will be in place about ten days before the "first season" (April 11-15th).
Mar 2 - Wednesday...high 50°F - (mud weather) trained Gigi and Pounce indoors...need to replace the wiring in a Gunner's Up winger. I replaced one a year ago in a GU Son-of-Gun. It was not easy. I am counting on better instructions and some experience making it easier. Sitting here doing the daily WEB entry and contemplating training plans for the next few days seems kind of insensitive when there is a war going on and people quite far away are suffering. Gigi trained working on the skill sets require for her AKC OB class (beginning on March 7th).
Mar 3 - Thursday...high in the 40's..The airing yard is drying out and I will begin spring maintenance
with lime, a thin layer of chopped straw and grass seed. Gigi and Pounce trained indoors. The focus remains on the concepts described in three links posted on Jan '22 1, 2 . (refer to the following link)
note: did an inventory of 209 primers and primer loaded blanks in preparation
for HRC training (more than enough for the rest of the spring, summer and fall)
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Mar 27 - Sunday...high 35°F...Gigi trained in the late morning working on OB again with a big mallard in her mouth. After the OB session, Gigi did several short retrieves working on picking up the big mallard and correctly returning for a proper delivery. This is a big issue with Gigi. Her high drive still renders her handling of a duck too aggressive. Therefore, distance has been reduced and duck in mouth OB is being stressed. Precise, correct repetitions were gradually attained. This will not be a quick fix, However, she
did improve as the session progressed. Pounce came out later and demonstrated exactly what mallard retrieves should look like....consistently precise. For Gigi, tomorrow's mallard will be a bit smaller.
Mar 28 - Monday...high 39°F....Pounce and Gigi trained with a big mallard (indoors) doing OB skills. Gigi, also practiced the skills specific to her fourth AKC OB class session at 7PM this evening. Each session there is a noticeable improvement in her focus and control.
Mar 16 - Wednesday - high of 67°F Both dogs exercised in the front yard (very good session with plenty of aerobic actions). Took Ford Transit to F&F tire to replace ONE faulty tire pressure sensor ($105!).