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Jan 10 10 pm 9°F, wind chill is -11°F = day off for Daisy & Kooly.....Pounce will work "The Indoor OB Game" (in drive) - two sessions today

The afternoon session went well. Pounce is becoming more "fluent" and comfortable with how each command relates to the others. "Whoa" is being taught using a very similar re-enforcing "tug" similar to what she experienced when learning the "sit" command 'ala Hillmann (repeating many "slight tugs" lifting up on the lead). When teaching "whoa" a second, lighter slip lead is placed behind her belly and just in front
of the stifles.

She was a bit "goosie" with this at first, but now walks at heel with both leads held vertically and will alternately "sit" or "whoa" on command. The familiar vertical "tug"
re-enforcement was repeated often for both commands, but in different positions. She quickly caught on to the routine...and likes the "new game"  

The next step was to teach a visual cue for each verbal command. The ''sit' signal is "pointed finger. "Whoa" signal is one palm up.  "Down" signal is flat, extended hand moving downward ."Here" is two palms open and held horizontally to the sides. To
date the only signal command left to integrate into the routine is "whoa".

The rationale was to create a fun, "in drive" training atmosphere when it is just too cold  outside. This "game" provides a platform to enhance responsiveness which is a critical component of balance.
note: Her eye contact and responsiveness have increased a great deal

Jan 11
high of 19°F - didn't train...."rec" room carpet HAD to be "steam vac'd"
Jan 12
high of 9°F - day off for two older dogs....up early to "snow blow" the driveway

Pounce went to her first AKC OB this morning (Intermediate level). She was extremely "antsy" at first, but got there early to just watch and get some of "it" out of the way. By the end of the session she was "good to go" (excited, composed, doing all the required skills and liking it). I assumed she would and it was somewhat of a relief to be right. The only problem was she began to find bits of treats here and there. It was an unplanned distraction and she saw "EVERYTHING".
                 note: Pounce is not on a treat training routine.
During break time, the area was big and with only five dogs in the class, we did a little "fetch a bumper out of the air fun". Actually, I did not have to do much to keep her in drive. Tail never stopped wagging for an hour and a half . I could tell she had spent a lot of energy (slept like a "curled up log" all afternoon).
Jan 13 high of 21°F with a wind chill at 10° F - trained at Rock State Park DTA, Pounce ran six singles the snow and finished with a short "walk back" double
                  note: late evening work on AKC class OB skills indoors 

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Jan 17 day off.....8:45 am -3° F...feels like -21° F....with high forecast +4° F 
                        note: two indoor AKC OB training sessions per day (refer to Jan 9 journal entry
                                  photos of "indoor area")  worked "in drive" (heightened excitement) worked on
                                  forward and backward heeling (on/off lead), sit off heeling motion, "here" front sit                                     and five minute remote sit with distractions, "whoa" off lead while in motion is still
                                  not solid, however...."here", "sit" and "down" off lead at distance while motion are
                                  solid while using verbal and/or hand signals or whistle
                        note: the number of correct repetitions to establish the skill set required by the AKC OB
                                  standards are way more than doing just enough to "get by"
                        note: in addition, the primary rationales for the class were "working in situations with a
                                  great deal of up-close distractions" and enhancing the "cool under fire" skill
                        note: weakest skill remains not being "squirrely" when approached and "touched" by
                                  someone else
Jan 18 day off from outdoors training....8:30 am 3° F ....feels like -17° F 
                        note: morning/evening = two "exciting, fun and in drive" OB sessions with Pounce

The morning session focus was on the "whoa" command. She knows the command and it has been re-enforced quite at bit. However, the "hands on, close proximity to her" approach was proving to be too much of a distraction. Therefore, a switch in tactics was done. Teach "standing" still like the 
"whoa" being taught to have a Lab "stand game" This places the dog's focus "out there" and the 
bumper becomes a "sight reward" focus. "Bingo!" Pounce "locked" right up in a solid whoa stance staring at the reward bumper. Petting and stroking did not even register. The "squirreliness" action
immediately disappeared. Repetitions will soon establish the command standard plus make the AKC expectation of "stand for examination" a non-issue.

Jan 19 worked easy OB session early morning and with later Pounce was taken to her 10:30am AKC
OB class.........size is now doubled 8 dogs instead of 4 (more distractions and closer) add to that we didn't train outside three days in a row (counting today) and she was quite a bit more "antsy" which is good......we need this!!!treat crumbs on the floor are becoming more than just a nuisance The suggested solution is to treat train her not to go after treats....with the "no..leave it" command with a treat as a reward, just not the one on the floor.......not too sure about doing this for just six more classes  afternoon - Pounce ran 6 walking singles in the snow at the RockCut State Park DTA
                     note: excellent session......did catch her sneaking close once as I walked away....verbal
                               "no" with an indirect pressure collar correction on "sit" followed by a "back" cast
                              which she took well with no hesitation or issues...nipped that right away......her
                              posture and attitude went from a quizzical "What?" to "OK, you caught me." 
                              which made me smile a bit.
                     note:The  terrain is unusually good for this time of year. Normally, snow tends to become
                               a problem. However, the cover in this area was not mowed all summer and when
                               nine inches of snow fell about a month ago it was knocked down leaving tall grass
                               with weeds above it. These absorbed sunlight and melted snow that then wicked
                               downward. A dark bumper in the snow and weeds is easy to see if the dog nails the
                               AOF within two or three feet    (last single is about 125 yards = longest)

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11:30 PM  Pounce worked indoors on her OB "routine" plus did a 5 minute remote sit

Map data ©2015 Google

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Pounce's "Snow Job"

Pounce's Winter Indoor Training Area

late evening.....during the Bull's halftime, Pounce worked on her AKC OB skills
Jan 29 no training outside....cold, windy and ice with hard, crusty snow...not good
                  note: did two sessions of indoor OB "fun" (morning and late night)
                            using English slip lead some, but mostly off lead and definitely
                            "in drive" (could not do this without the large, heated area)
                   note: drive is sustained by trainer animation, escalating "excitement"
                             with a small bumper and trying to keep verbal rewards simple,
                             well timed and meaningful
                   note: with significant practice and consistency we are both getting
                             better at it.....while correct repetitions continue to add up
Jan 30 39°F trained in the afternoon at the Winnebago Co. DTA, the terrain slopes slightly uphill which gives the sun a better angle to melt snow......huge difference over most other fields (good surface)......Pounce ran Hillmann's "Pin Point Marking Drill" and is really beginning to focus on "where"....used duck call, primer pistol and did it in the "stand alone/send back" mode- steady, focused and fast
note: Kooly & Daisy then ran six singles apiece (same setup, easier
                              marks, right and left side old dog exercise & a break for Pounce)
her second sessions had the five walking singles already planned out and Pounce was totally up for the fun - steady (no issues) and nailed each mark......fast and then pranced in the snow going back to the van asking "Is that all?"
                     note: did do her AKC OB session early this morning and she ran a
                               quick walk-through late in the evening

Jan 20 mid-morning upper teens - Pounce trained at RockCut State Park DTA - ran a
version of Carol Cassity's Swish Blinds Drill using nine canvass bumpers in the cold snow
          note: looking for consistent "focus and sends" at the line, quick pivot/ turn & sit
                    stops on the whistle and change in direction casts. She's improved quite a bit
                    in the the last month. I believe Hillmann's sit standard has made auto-casting
                    a non-issue. Not even ONCE.....yet!   
          note: Daisy & Kooly had the day off

"go longer and prosper"

Jan 7 trained in the afternoon (middle thirties with "spotty", light showers...radar is cool)
Pounce ran the Kelly Meyer DTA "Fly Blind" a full 300 hundred yards (see Jan 5 photo) and then moved to the Roscoe Retention Pond DTA for a "stand alone/walk back" double (1st 85 yds & 2nd 135 yds).....picked up short then long......removed "stickmen" stations and planted a mallard cold blind up the middle (150 yards).......seemed almost too easy,
maybe white bumpers in the snow???
                note: rain started again as we left
                note: Daisy and Kooly stayed home (trained yesterday)
                note: morning spent at mechanic's = new starter.....aarrgghhh!!!
note: went to Vet for a fecal check on Pounce - AKC OB class starts the 12th

Pounce - 19 months old

Map data ©2015 Google

Map data ©2015 Google

Jan 8  rain, mud, standing water, "slushy" snow & ice = day off for all, no training outdoors
                   note: aired dogs at midnight and Pounce "worked" her "In Drive OB" session
                             initially on lead with a light, English slip lead and then off....left & right
                             side heeling (forwards & back), front sit, heel position sits (both sides), 
                             alternating "heel", "sit", "whoa" and "down" commands then finishing
                             with extended remote sits that end in here, sit, down hand signals only on
                              a return to a front sit and then heel sit finish...off lead

                    note: her AKC OB class begins next Tuesday and by then the "whoa"
                              command will be in place to complete the hand signal's phase

                              ("whoa" is the same as the AKC OB class "stand" command)
                     note: the primary purpose of the class is to provide "proofing" distractions
                               and something different, low key and fun to do in the "dead of winter"
Jan 9  cloudy, snow, 33°F  trained today because it is going to turn MUCH colder, went to  RockCut State Park DTA - snow on the ground and more coming around 3 pm, set up a tight, seven slot Swish drill for Pounce......then two blinds each with Kooly & Daisy, the snow came a bit early, but Pounce went back out and ran four walking singles anyway
                      note: the blinds were a bit tight to begin with, but Pounce improved as
                                her session progressed (followed her out)
                      note: refer back to the Jan 6th entry for a snow cover "reference" look
                      note: this session's blinds were run in the same cover and in the opposite
                                direction.....the four "snowy" singles were all "laser" like front footers,
but the blinds......lots of speed....but "laser" like.....not so much
  note: Hillmann's "The Game" concept is in full bloom
mid-night aired dogs and Pounce worked her indoor OB "fun session" (in drive, off lead)
warmed up with the active fetch fun ("The Game"), then worked on alternating walking "heel", "whoa", "sit",  and "down" commands with specific hand signals......progressed to off lead, from a remote sit using three verbal and hand signal commands for "here", "sit" and "down"....after three "reps", went only with the visual, hand signal commands 

                     note: she has this "nailed" with great eye contact and animation (it's fun)
                               and we cap that off with the "catch the bumper game"
                     note: "whoa" (standing stationary) is almost ready to be added to make
                               it the "in drive, off lead, four commands motion game"

Map data ©2015 Google

Jan 24 early afternoon 2°F & cloudy...trained at RockCut State Park DTA and Pounce ran "the marking drill in "stand alone/send back" mode, used elevated platform and a construction size DeWalt drill with a masonry drill was used to  "punch" a hole in the frozen ground for the post supporting a "target" bucket at the line.....Pounce as active in returning to the line and "on fire" running the singles......stepped on most and for a few it was somewhat interesting to seejust how far away she can be on the downwind side of a fall to locate canvas
                    note: good session in the weeds and snow cover
Jan 25 warming up, then rain followed by cold meaning maybe ice....not good,
trained at the Roscoe Retention Pond DTA, flooded some, but an ice "bridge"
has made the south section of land more accessible.......put equipment on a sled, made it easy.....Pounce ran three "stand alone/send back" Y-Drills - accurate, fast, steady and "full of it" - used duck call and a grey, canvas bumper in the snow
                    note: she's fast when running marks and today her speed back to the
                              line on the "place" command was excellent
                    note: will do her indoor "OB routine" this evening and her 3rd
                              session AKC OB class is tomorrow morning
                    note: cover (weeds above the snow) is not nearly as dense as what is                                     in the RockCut State Park DTA (county mowed late fall which will
                              make this a very good place to train in the spring) 

Jan 26 Pounce "did" her morning AKC OB class and then everyone had the rest of

the day off.......six days in a row of solid training sessions for Pounce equals a day
off........decent training weather forecasts for the next week are promising and
then it is February........which is the "home stretch".
Jan 27 trained at RockCut State Park DTA - Pounce ran two sets of three cold blinds,
with distance and terrain limiting factors, the focus was on taking good initial lines, sitting on the whistle and taking change in direction casts......she knows only one speed...."flat out" with no difference between marks or blinds
                   note: good session, but a little "loose" at the ends
                   note: Kooly & Daisy ran the second set of blinds....after Pounce

Jan 21 mid-day trained at Winnebago Co. DTA - Pounce ran two KRD's in the snow
                     note: Kooly & Daisy ran six short singles for exercise and another KRD
                               was setup for Pounce in a different spot = short break for Pounce

"visual justification for using canvas in the winter"

late evening - trained OB indoors....1st time off lead the entire session, no e-collar and in drive.....her total focus was on "The Game".......OB is fun! 
                note: last command "whoa" is getting there......her strong sit is a
                          powerful default to ignore..."sit" was developed over a period of
                          many months, while "whoa"....has just been a few weeks
Jan 22 Pounce trained at RockCut State Park DTA - ran the two sets of 3-peat blinds (east & west) then drove to Kelly Meyer Field DTA & repeated the 300 yard "Snow Fly" blind.....two older dogs had the day off  
               note: first set of blinds to the west were excellent....two whistled the first
                         to the right, one whistled the one to the left and lined the middle
               note: for the second set, each line was good until the path that cuts in
                         front of them is "encountered".....I'm thinking all the scent from   
                         walking dogs formed a distracting barrier because she broke down
                         and went into hunt mode.....may shorten each and place them on
                         the west side of the path or just "wash out" this 3-peat
               note: ran an errand to Farm & Fleet....giving Pounce a forty-five minute 
                         break, then "fogged" the 300 yard "Snow Fly" blind at Kelly Meyer
                         DTA.....for the last time....it's too easy....but she liked it
Jan 23 forecast high  31°F -  trained Pounce at the Winnebago Co. DTA....did a set of walking singles out to the west and then back.......then Daisy and Kooly ran five walking singles (each...but taking turns (exercise for the old....me, too) next Pounce ran three cold blinds to the south followed by a short break to set up three cold blinds to the north
               note: ran walking singles until the primer pistol was emptied...sat well,
                         ran straight lines to the correct sides, pinned about half and         
                         over-ran those she didn't, checked down well and learned.....they
                         were not short singles (100-300 yards)
               note: she's made a huge  "jump" in her cold blind skills.....taking good
                         lines and carrying them, runs fast (very fast), but still a little
                         "loose" right at the end......next few blinds will be much shorter
                         providing more input and control
               note: did the indoor "OB Game" last night & again this morning

Jan 28 trained in the morning (rain/snow this afternoon)....Pounce went first to
Kieselburg Forest Preserve to run a set of four cold blinds and planned to use
"walkout" control for each cast toward the end of every blind 
                   note: that went well and it hardly put a "dent" in her energy level
drove to the Roscoe Retention Pond/Land DTA to run a set of three longer cold 
blinds...these were more open with a very distant horizon...scratching my head
over these...one whistled the first and LINED the next two with no bow in the line
even with a stiff cross wind..flat out full speed....memory from a different angle ?
                    note: walked a circular path after planting blinds.....no trail to follow,
                                         strong cross wind, no marker, bumpers not visible until
                                         right on top of them and she did not see me drop them  
                    note: wanted to work on her whistle sits and casting.....did on the first
                              set, but very little chance to do so on the second

Jan 6  trained at RockCut State Park - ran 3-peat blinds to the west and two marking drills with the same concept as yesterday - check downs (in cover, longer and in a different area)
             note: ran blinds first, set up the "check down" Y & X-Box Drills using the same
                       line, but separated by a wide angle to eliminate any conflicts/influence
             note: dark green canvass bumper in "stand alone/send back" mode
             note: after Pounce was finished, Daisy and Kooly ran an X-Box "Check Down" in

                       tandem, "stand alone/send back" mode and because there were several dogs
                       in and out of the parking lot, the primer pistol was only used with Pounce   
             note: cloudy, low thirties with a 15 mph cross wind out of the south and the          
                       "Yak-Trax" were a game changer in the ice & snow


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X-Box Drill

Jan 15 another warm day (for January) 9:30 am 34° F and just finished the indoor OB
session with Pounce, focus was on differentiating between "sit", "down" and "whoa"
while heeling.....using verbal and visual cues plus tug re-enforcing on the two slip leads
late morning trained at RockCut State Park DTA - Pounce did nine walking singles in the snow and weed cover........all under 100 yards........focus was on AOF

afternoon - Pounce ran the 300 yard "Snow Fly Blind" at Kelly Meyer DTA = one whistle sit at about 200 yards...only a few yards left of the line, but wanted her to sit on a whistle and see/take the correct, slight angle back right cast, she did...."flew" out & on the return
                         note: (3rd time) refer to Jan 5th journal entry for photo of blind area

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Jan 16 trained early afternoon at Winnebago County DTA...."temps" 22° F feels like 1° F
Pounce ran five, long walking singles with a "camo" bumper and primer pistol reports (really well)...remote sit standard is solid, "lasers" to the AOF's...Kooly & Daisy ran a four singles X-Box drill (four short singles), "stand alone/send backs in tandem"
                     note: pre-trip choice of long underway was an excellent decision
Pounce's early morning OB session included a 5-minute remote sit with distractions and
this meshed well with her watching my long, slow walks between each of the singles
                     note: pounce worked another "in drive" OB session late tonight (indoors)

Map data ©2015 Google

Jan 14 upper thirties - trained indoors in the  morning working on Pounce's AKC OB class routines and had some assistance with the "Meet and Greet" standard,
afternoon trained at the Winnebago County DTA - Pounce did a "stand alone/send back"
marking drill first, short break to setup and run three cold blinds, then Daisy & Kooly ran the same set of blinds (which gave Pounce another break).....setup a short "stand alone/walk back" triple for Pounce which she did well...........tonight another 10 minutes of the AKC "stuff" including working on the "whoa" command (stand for examination)

Jan 31 high of 40°F  rain, snow, shush, ice and gloomy decided to not train
                    note: Pounce did her "combo" AKC & retriever OB routine this morning
                             which included her first five minute "out of sight remote sit" with
                              a tossed bumper sitting in easy "reach"....35 feet away - solid
                    note: repeat late night to finish off a very effective winter month

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note: These were intended to be Pounce's first set of several blinds
to the same pile.  However, they were a little too "tight". I have a much better perspective on how to set one up next time (wider and fewer).  The visibility was more of a challenge than I expected, but I was very satisfied with her effort and responsiveness.

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Jan 1-3  Happy New Year - everyone took a weather and holiday break
next three days' forecast high's - train
Jan 4 26°F   Pounce, Daisy and Kooly ran the west side 3-peat blinds...(in the snow for
the first time) Pounce 2 whistled the left, 2 whistled the right & lined the middle....faster
than Daisy and way faster than Kooly
                          note: see Dec 7 entry
Jan 5 31°F  early afternoon Pounce ran about a 180 yard cold blind with three whistles
(used Google Map to come up with an estimate).....backed up about 50+ (guess) on the return and she proceeded to line it......fast.....not sure anything was gained by that, but it did look kind of cool (this was at the Kelly Meyer Field DTA in about 4 inches of snow),
drove to the RockCut State Park DTA and first did a 60 yard, basic Y-Dill with a "check down" concept, this was in weed/grass cover above the snow.....she stepped on those running it in the "send back/stand alone" mode with a dark green canvas bumper, moved and then ran a 75 yard X-Box marking drill again as "check downs" and she stepped on the first three singles and then had no idea where the fourth went (twice) .....then I glanced back and noted the "check down" (and a repeat) were thrown directly into a very bright, "low in the sky", big winter sun......duhhhh!!
               note: afterwards Pounce was prancing around, having a great time and asking
                         for more, until I said, "Heel" and headed toward the van....she's a keeper