point blind #1

Dec 4 Day off for Daisy.........finished the last of the major portion of leaves ("real" yard work)
Today was the last warm day for awhile. Three things were planned. First was to train Pounce. Second was to dismantle the goose blind on Thorson Pond and put it in storage. Third was to finish off the leaves left in piles from yesterday. Everything was completed by 2 PM.

Pounce ran three doubles in the same format as yesterday - "stand alone/walk back". These were done at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA and were similar to the concept introduced yesterday.  The terrain was simplified by not having any shrubs or trees and they were a bit shorter. The van was moved, then parked near the each station in each double and Pounce
was cast to the line to begin each set. Once the "go mark" was down, she had to wait for the thrower/handler (me) to return to the line.  She is very good at "stand alone steady".
                        note: When each double was completed, Pounce "practiced" the skill set from 
                                  Hillmann's stage #7 heeling all the way back to the van (three times).

Dec 19 Mid-morning at the W Property in Wisconsin (Madison Retriever Club), Pounce ran another "Pin Point" marking drill (longer than last two). With the dark, 
tree lined background, a 3" black/white bumper with back/white flags was used. Gunner (me) wearing a light colored jacket was using a primer pistol. The singles were all run doing the "stand alone/send back" method......not easy. Ponce was "firing on all cylinders" and was wanting more when we finished. There was a brief break while I setup a short point blind session. Dropped two mallard Dokkens and two "camo" bumpers in a pile for the blinds. The Dokkens were brought back first and required just a few handles on the first and third blinds. The other two she lined. It should be noted that Pounce has run several "point blinds" before (in other areas...same concept). After learning what "the target" looks like (even from different angles, varying terrain), "The Spot" is quickly "burned" into her memory.  
                 note: Daisy got in her usual bunch of fun bumpers for exercise as I 
                           picked up the "placeboard" and white "stickman" from the line.
                note: This training area is about an 80 mile round trip. Since the Vet's  
                           office is along the way, a fecal sample of Daisy's was dropped off
                           (saving quite a bit in gas money and time).

Dec 20 Trained at the Harrison DTA and ran a set of six "Stand Alone/Send Back" singles and the Harrison "Point Blind" (not very warm, but finished quickly)
               note: Daisy had the day off.

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Dec 30 At 4:30 PM it is 1°F with a wind chill of -14°F.....and not a creature is stirring. Did the driveway some with a snow shovel, brought the garbage containers back from the road and picked up the airing yard.  Pounce did one indoor heeling session at midnight and it was awesome.
Dec 31 This is the last training day of the year. The high will be 10°F. Pounce did one heeling session indoors at half-time of the Bulls' game and will do another just about midnight to welcome in the New Year. "Baby....It Is Cold Outside!"
                       note: Tomorrow at 8 AM it will be -8°F with a wind chill of -24°F.

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marking drill

Dec 14 It is cold. Pounce went to Lowe's and worked in the large, warm aisles back in the |lumber section. She did a very good session of Hillmann's heeling program - stage #8.
note: After a few more "reps" like today (practice), she will move on to stage #9.
Dec 15
too cold and windy.....for any field work.....10 degrees warmer and less wind tomorrow
note: decided to repeat the heeling routine that Pounce did at Lowe's yesterday
Dec 16
Pounce ran two KRD's with five blinds each at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA. Blinds were (left to right) 1) wide of the fall, 2) through the fall, 3) under the arc, 4) tight behind the gunner and 5) wide behind the gun. However, the blinds were not run in that order (diagram).
When running the second setup, the winger stayed in place, the line was rotated 180° and five new blinds were planted to be run in the opposite direction. 
                 note: two marks and ten concept blinds.....two KRDs = Key Relationship Drills
                 note: The number of variations on this drill are limited only by the available
                           terrain, trainer ingenuity and skill level of the retriever. 
                 note: Pounce's winter training plan includes one variation of a KRD per week.     

   YouTube Video

Dec 26 at noon it is 3°F, feels like -11°F - trained two very good sessions of heeling  using the deck of our indoor pool. Swimming is shut down for a month (or two), but the "room" is kept at about 55°F and has plenty of deck space for training.
                     note: check the January link below for "indoor area" photos
Dec 27 At noon, it is 3°F, feels like -9°F (déjà vu). Today, Pounce did two indoor heeling sessions. This was the last practice of stage #8 in Hillmann's Heeling DVD. 
                    note: At ten PM it is -2°F.
Dec 28 cold.....spent some of the day "sulking"...then most of the day was used more productively by working on several Website navigation issues...a good "house cleaning" is always effective at improving one's morale
                    note: did not train 
Dec 29 Pounce "graduated" to stage #9....the "Introduction To Distractions" indoors.
This winter is turning into a very cold journey and a challenge. It is not cool being cold. Snow is not coming in huge dumps, just a couple of inches at a time regularly.  

 Dec 24-5 two days off from training....snow provided a White Christmas

Dec 21 Pounce had a late morning training session at the Harrison DTA (low 30's and cloudy). The narrow, long slough to the east was full of geese (several hundred) and
they were not happy with our intrusion. The session was designed to provide practice
on deep angle back marks (after an angle-in was thrown semi-inline). The concept was "drive past" the short fall and gunner. The grassy area was high ankle deep and hid
the bumper unless "right on it".  Used a primer pistol and 3" orange bumper plus a
Dogtra receiver with its familiar duck quack. Pounce was fast and accurate.
                 note: It was Daisy's day to exercise and she retrieved several short throws.
                 note: Did one more yard "clean-up"...chopped, mulched the last flower bed
                           and raked/burned another bunch of leaves. DONE!
                 note: There will be some snow tonight and then much colder weather.

You Tube Video

Copyright © kwickLabsii. All rights reserved

         Winnebago County DTA in April '17

blind #3

Dec 22 Today is a day off for all and a little practice at "hibernation". There was much less than an inch of snow last night and the next fourteen day weather forecast is for zero snow. However, temperatures will range from a high of 29°F today and way too many single digit days sprinkled in. With a lot of  cloud cover and wind, training will not be easy going. No snow is cool though.
                     note: most of the snow was gone by 1:30 pm (ground is not frozen)
Dec 23 Pounce trained mid-day at the Harrison DTA (cloudy, 24°F, wind chill 17°F). Using the "master Google map", an area not used recently that would work with a northwest wind was identified. Pounce ran several "Stand Alone/Send Back" singles. Again, the focus was on "practicing" the long angle-back mark expectation.....drive past the gunner and don't "break down".  To make it more challenging each mini-set was followed by an increase in distance with the last single at 184 yards. 
      note: used the Canon 70-200 mm lens (usually do not use this when training)

Dec 7 Winter has arrived. With a good dusting of snow, a temperature of 22°F and a wind chill at 9°F (gusts to 20 mph), this was not a pleasant introduction. Then again....winter is unavoidable.
           note: The tentative plan for fun this winter is to "do" 5-6 chukars about every week with
                     the possibility of entering HRC Upland Hunt Tests in January or February. Then her
                     AKC Master tests will begin in June. note: The Chukar idea did not materialize.
Around noon, Pounce was taken to Lowe's Home Improvement store to work on Hillmann's heeling program. She is well into stage #7 and the empty lumber aisles provide a large, warm area to train in. This time of the year there is rarely any activity in this section of the store. The aisles are very wide and long. The best thing is the warmth. Pounce had a very productive session with many precise repetitions. With Hillmann's process, work is energetic and fun.
           note: Hillmann mentions early on that distractions will be added later once the focus and
                     skills are established. Pounce is highly motivated by scent and often times this
                     "gets in the way" when working in grassy areas. Scent is very distracting. The
                     lumber yard aisles are essentially sterile. They provide the ideal environment to

                     focus on the heeling conditioned responses.  This was an excellent session.
Dec 8 Pounce's heeling process with Hillmann's program moved on to Stage #8. At 2 PM we trained in the "grassy area" east of Thorson Pond. The temperature was 35°F with a wind chill of 17°F. The sun was out and it was actually pleasant. Pounce did a very good job of heeling and the excitement level was kept high during the session (not only with our close "bumper game" but with four short, easy blinds evenly spaced in between the heeling work). This added even more excitement to the session. Pounce is extremely "upbeat" about this effort and her responsiveness has progressed to a much higher level.  The "OK, what's next?" body language is now more of a regular "thing". Then again she has always been a quick study. However, every once in awhile the teacher (trainer) fails to present a clear picture.
             note: A recent heeling issue with Pounce was a penchant to put her nose down and
                       "scour" grassy ground for scent. She did not do that when walking the aisles at
                       Lowe's (no stimulating scent).  The "issue" was quickly resolved during this
                       session. Every time her nose began to move down, Pounce was asked to sit with
                       the normal "verbal sit and nick" (low level re-enforcement).  Within a few minutes
                       Pounce decided "sniffing the ground when heeling was not worth it." In addition,
                       an effort to increase visual/verbal interactions with her trainer was practiced.
                       Hillmann suggests to verbally and physically maintain "contact" with the dog.
                       Another layer of responsiveness was produced using attractive alternatives.
             note: All my previous retrievers went though this very same issue.  A few well timed
                       "applications" of the heeling stick had them deciding "sniffing the ground when

                       heeling was not worth it." However, there is a difference. 
Dec 9,10 These cold and windy days were somewhat avoided by simply working indoors with Pounce. She is now in stage #8 of Hillmann's Heeling program and did one session each day. 
Dec 11 The cold and windy weather is quickly "getting old" and there are still three months of it. Around 2 PM, Pounce did a yard session of heeling in Stage #8 of Hillmann's program. Then after "rounding up" ten, 3", canvass, foam bumpers, Pounce ran a split lining drill in the yard (twice). This was done mostly to provide some energetic exercise and fun. In addition, It was a good session for reviewing/practicing her "push/pull" line standards (working both sides).
Dec 12 At noon, it was 20°F with a wind chill of 7°F. Daisy and Pounce were asleep in the living room which seemed like a good enough "session" for me. In spite of the cold temperatures, two  good things about December have been a totally idle snow blower plus a forecast with no snow for at least the next ten days.  We have had three slight "dustings" (gone the next day).
Dec 13 Pounce trained at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA (afternoon, low 30's, stiff breeze). The setup was a modified version of Hillmann's Star Drill. The purpose was to practice lining and handling plus provide exercise. Five points with two canvass bumpers at each were lined first and then five handles off those initial lines. The five stakes were picked up by heeling around the circumference doing the heeling skills "described" in Hillmann's stage #8 of his heeling program. The session was upbeat, fast and fun. The cold weather was not an issue.    

blind #2

Dec 1 Friday was a day for "real" yard work - "did" more leaves. Pounce worked an extended session of Stage #7 from Hillmann's Heeling program. She trained in a new area and the scent in this grassy area was distracting. Every time her nose went down, we stopped and she sat. Since sniffing the ground was not providing what she wanted, heeling became the focus. This session then went much like what was presented in Hillmann's heeling video (good start).
Dec 2 Saturday morning's eye doctor appointment may result in no training for a day or two.
Dec 3 Pounce trained at the Harrison DTA and did two "Stand Alone/Walk Back Doubles". Then she ran two sets of singles using the "stickmen" in the field for "lines". After the field work, Pounce "worked" her second session of Hillmann's Stage #7 heeling.
              note: Daisy did easy, fun marks for exercise while picking up the "stickmen".
              note: Cold weather is about to "hit". The goose pond will be frozen by this weekend.

one single slide show

     "Goose Season - November Retrieve"

Dec 5 "nasty" at 2:30 pm.......It is 31°F wind chill 17°F west winds 29 mph gusting to 41 mph. Pounce did an afternoon session of Hillmann's Heeling Program (stage #7) in the indoor area and an evening second session which included recording a video for review.
Dec 6 Pounce trained in the evening (indoor, heated training area). Using the video from the previous day. The focus was first on "seeing" what needed to be improved so as to make practice more precise and effective. Next, a much improved routine was run and repeated often. The immediate result was the expectations were better defined and easier to replicate. In essence, the session was not as "choppy" (more seamless). The camera "sees all" and can present  a useful perspective (if one observes objectively).
          note: Pounce is not the only one that needs to "adjust".

note: Pounce did a heeling session (Hillmann's Stage #8) on the long walk  
          back to the van after the 2nd KRD.

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blind #4

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Dec 17 Sunday - Pounce ran a pin-point marking drill at the Harrison DTA. She has not run this drill for awhile and with four more days of excellent weather a set of singles per day will provide enough practice to sharpen things up quite a bit. After the singles, Pounce did a session of heeling practice from the "gun station" to the video camera.
           note: Pounce's long "angle backs" were sketchy (need to review/practice). 
           note: Daisy had a few short retrieves for exercise (from the line). 
After the next four days, the "train a bit, then hibernate" intervals will begin.  The snow blower has been moved to the garage, filled with gas and is ready.


Dec 18 Pounce trained using a similar setup to yesterday's in a different area of the Harrison DTA and it was quicker (no cameras to setup). This time used a 3" orange bumper. It was colder than yesterday....cloudy, 37F with a wind chill of 29F and 12 mph winds. She was more "with it" today and wanted more.....good session.