Retriever Training

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Mon Jul 08, 2019 4:59 pm

I can't see the drill AG sent you but there are a couple of books that have been helpful to me: "Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves", "Retriever Training Drills for Marking", and"Retriever Training Tests" - all by James Spencer. I think one or more are out of print but you can likely get them as used books. These are good books and are really reasonably priced. Also "SmartWork II Secrets of the Pros" by Evan Graham covers drills.


Looking at the water mark you posted it's good he didn't cheat but isn't really much of a cheating test. I would start with really short marks close to the corner of the pond and back up farther so he will cheat. You can throw the mark and when he cheats stop him on a whistle and cast into the water. Some folks nick him at the corner when he cheats (going or coming) and on subsequent throws he'll avoid that spot and prefer to stay wet. Start the short marks on the shore and throw into the water on far side and gradually back up so it's a ways to the water as well as have the marks land farther and farther on land from the far shore. Start really short and gradually do longer in the same place every day until he "gets it". Then go to another place or do from opposite side.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:08 am

Thanks Bruce.

The responses help me realize I will be into high degree of control and force when I take this on. I wonder about the timing of when I would best work on this. We have some good momentum going at the moment, I looked at a pretty good hay field with a useful mix of tall and low cover and a pond with inlets, coves, cover in the water, last night with plans to train there next week. I think we are ready to lengthen distances, do marks through cover and work on doubles. Signed up for AKC and NAHRA tests in August. Not sure I want to take on this on until after that as I doubt the tests will have severe cheating the bank temptations and working on this is going to temporary interrupt other areas.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:11 am

in Seasoned level HRC the tests are straight forward - does your dog handle on land and water to do reasonable 60 - 70 yard retrieves? Not much trickery going on. The marks are straight forward as well. This is a level that Spud should be able to do if he's had some marking and lining experience. Unless you're heavy handed it will not detract from his upland prowess in the least.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:26 pm

Yes he will handle in those ranges but we are not 100%. Some breakdowns happen as the cover increases or the terrain become more challenging. Water is often easier than land especially clean water. When he has his feet under him it is so easy and natural to start looping using his nose and the wind as he has done hundreds of times to successfully find and recover birds while hunting.

I see no risk of negatively affecting his upland work, but his drive to work bumpers (particularly in 80-90 heat) can go visibly down if I am pushing buttons a lot.

I am going for a consult with a Pro Trainer on his training grounds Thursday morning. Plan on running a few things to give him a feel for where we are presently and get his input on where to take things from here.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:06 am

Ran this setup this morning. It was a thrown mark with a blank shot at about 75 yards. I fully expected it to invite Spud to get on the bank on possibly the send and even more so on the return as the bank angled out into the water getting very close to the line he was sent on. The wife made it harder than I intended by landing the dolken further down and closer to the bank than I had requested when we discussed the setup before running it. (She has many talents, throwing is not one of them.)

I was focused on being ready to handle and did not begin filming until the return trip, but on the send Spud started angling towards the bank as it angled out towards his line. I could tell he was going to either get his feet under him along the water edge or worse hit the bank. I gave him a whistle que, he treaded water to look, and I gave him an angled back away from the bank which he took and stayed swimming parallel to the bank a very short distance out from where he could have gotten his feet under him and run the retrieve alot faster than swimming.

On the return you see I hit a hard whistle the moment he got the dolken and he turns and begins swimming back. Started angling towards the bank and I whistled again, he continued angling towards the bank going faster and I whistled again and nicked him at a low 2 at the same time, he angled directly towards me and came on in.

It was a training victory (in my world at least) and I believe he understands lines well enough that I can get some well timed corrections in and get a good response from them. That setup was not an extreme temptation but it was a strong one which is exactly my intention to give him enough angle back towards me to either do as I was instructing and or understand a correction if he did not.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0SrAJGodbM&t=14s
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:23 am

You got lucky I'm thinkin', but a win is a win. You're correction should have been NO!. Whistle. Over. Then there is no question in the dog's mind what you want. If he refuses and goes to the bank, it then becomes a capitol offense. :D

Remember when you're working on bank drills, you get more out of a short retrieve than a long one.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:35 am

I think you are right, that would be the more clear correction.

I am guilty of multi-tasking, wanting to run some longer marks in preparation for a Hunt Test but also wanting to work on lines as we do. It was 80 degrees with 90% humidity 2 MPH wind at 6 am this morning so I only have a few reps I can get in under those conditions.

Appreciate the look and the response. I will use the NO and OVER the next time. He does respond well to a hard NO when handling and starts to go in the wrong direction and he certainly understands OVER with a hand signal as well.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:16 am

I have to say it again; Spud looks like an exceptional dog to me and you're done a darn good job on him.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:20 am

I have to tell you a funny story too, since you mention your wife was helping. When I was a pro, my wife did a lot of bird throwing for me when there were no clients available. One day we were working angles across ditches and I had my daughter with me, then about five. I told my wife to take a bag of dead birds and wade across the ditch then I'd position her. She started across the ditch, her feet mired in the mud, and down she went, face first, bag of dead birds over her shoulder, into that stinking muck. She came sputtering up just a cursing, which she never does. My little girl looked up at me with big eyes and said "Daddy, Mommy is saying words ladies shouldn't ever say". I said "Yes she is but DON'T SAY A WORD!" Man, was she mad at me! My daughter now had two girls of her own and still hasn't forgotten that day.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:24 pm

:lol: That's a great story GH. Thanks for sharing and Thank you for the compliment. Coming from a guy who has trained/seen hundreds it is really nice to hear.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Doc E » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:29 pm

AverageGuy wrote:Thanks Bruce.

The responses help me realize I will be into high degree of control and force when I take this on. I wonder about the timing of when I would best work on this. We have some good momentum going at the moment, I looked at a pretty good hay field with a useful mix of tall and low cover and a pond with inlets, coves, cover in the water, last night with plans to train there next week. I think we are ready to lengthen distances, do marks through cover and work on doubles. Signed up for AKC and NAHRA tests in August. Not sure I want to take on this on until after that as I doubt the tests will have severe cheating the bank temptations and working on this is going to temporary interrupt other areas.


What level of Hunt test ?
AKC = Junior, Senior and Master
NAHRA = Started, Hunter, Intermediate and Senior

When and where are the Tests ?
.

.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:04 pm

Doc, I think we will run Junior and Started. I would rather run a test expecting to pass vs hoping to pass and based on that I do not think we are ready for Senior. Not sure about Hunter. We will continue to train, if things were coming together it could change. The tests are in Iowa back to back the first two weekends in August.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Doc E » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:22 pm

Good Luck -- Have Fun and don't forget to breathe
.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:35 am

Spent the day in Iowa yesterday with a nice fellow, pro trainer with some nice training grounds. Picked up some ideas, took 3 ducks out the freezer last night, plugged in the ecollars and set the alarm for 5am. This morning the Wife and I drive to a flat freshly baled hay field along a creek with some tall cover around. Plan was to work on doubles. Get there, gear up, collar up Spud and walk two feet to a fence grown up in tall weeds with a ditch on the other side buried in those weeds that we need to get through. Spud is ready to roll so I pull up the bottom wire and get him through it, then part the loose wires for the wife to get through which is when she discovers the ditch on the other side. I get through and begin walking looking things over to layout my first marks as I walk, letting Spud loop around a bit to air and he heads to cover immediately as every good bird dog would.

The unmistakeable sound of a dog wringing out a coon breaks the morning silence coming from a big patch of 8-10 feet tall giant ragweed. I head that way and as I go another coon comes running at me from the patch across the low hay field and another exits the weed patch going in another direction. Spud continues to wring out his prisoner from the middle of the weed patch. Eventually I tone him out and he retrieves the coon to hand. Now I have a dog with his eyes rolled back in his head from the amp'd up predatory battle, tongue hanging out 2 feet and panting as hard as a dog can pant, and two smoking hot coon tracks across my training area and likely more in the nearby weed patch.

Best laid plans go awry.

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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Willie T » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:47 am

Be prepared when you go back. Spud will remember that patch of weeds. They will be a strong suction and are likely to derail spud. Set your marks up with the weeds at your back to take them out of play if its practical.
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Edited to add: nice honest work on the return!
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