A few questions about progression through smartworks....
My pup is 6 and a half months now. We are following Evan Graham's Smartworks system.
Here's where he is now.
I spent two weeks...two sessions most days on HERE and CC and HERE with resistance taking advantage of any distractions that presented themselves. As far as how much pressure he's getting from the collar in case you are wondering.....my CC went like this. I started on 0.5 while calling HERE....and pulling with the rope gradually stepping up the pressure. He showed that he noticed the pressure at 1.5 but it didn't seem to bother him. At 2.0 he would run quickly to me and at 2.5 he would let out a little whine so I established 2.0 as a good working level of pressure. He's completely reliable on HERE if there are no distractions at this point. His attitude when we are on walks or getting ready for field training is happy excitement hopping around tail up and wagging....no droop or anxiety but you can see him reigning himself in to check back as he stays close to me (within 10-15 yards)....just like the book says to expect...he's expecting me to call him HERE at any moment so he's keeping himself ready to come and checks back frequently. If there is a distraction like one of the kids or another dog or our cat or whatever he will come but usually needs a nick from the collar as reinforcement and depending on the distraction he needs a heavier nick as high as 3.5 or 4 and sometimes continuous which amazed me as he showed that 2.5 was more than enough pressure during CC. I am using planned and unplanned distractions to further formalize HERE. First question: Should I be continuing my focus on HERE before moving on to HEEL, SIT, HEEL with stick pressure? Earlier this week I thought I was ready to move on so I have begun HEEL, SIT, HEEL and after 4 sessions he's getting the picture.....he's doing very well on a very short lead in a straight line as long as no distractions just like above with HERE. For HEEL, SIT, HEEL I am using a pinch collar on a short lead...NO E COLLAR. Since I'm seeing the same thing with HEEL, SIT, HEEL as I did with HERE I'm thinking I need to back up and spend more time on HERE and more time on CC with resistance until he can work through distractions????? I want to make sure I'm fully ingraining all of this and am trying to take my time.
We've done a lot of single marks up to 80-100 yards and have done short double marks ...maybe 50 yards... all in short grass and medium cover...nothing he can't see over.....this has been pretty easy stuff. For the singles my bird boy or girl makes the throws at varying distances. For the doubles one bird boy makes the first throw and I restrain him after he's marked the fall and then turn 180 degrees and the other bird girl makes the second throw which I allow him to retrieve. He then is allowed to go to the memory bird. He's very good at this and I've started introducing some doubles at different angles as close to each other as 90 degrees....he's good on these as well but you can see him eyeballing that memory mark the whole time.
Progressing from there I've introduced him to stickmen and today we did our first A,B,C drill with 4 stickmen and a bird girl throwing single marks ranging from 20 to 80 yards in short grass. He nailed every single throw completely ignored the bird girl and completely ignored the stickmen. All he cares about is the bumper and me. (except for when the neighbors basset hound heard the commotion and came to check things out). I did use this as an opportunity to reinforce HERE.
For all of this the only obedience I'm requiring is that he start out at heel sitting next to me and comes all the way HERE....I'm not needing to use any pressure for this. While the bird boys throw I keep him steady by holding his collar.
My question about this part is how many marks do you generally give a 6 month old pup in a single session. Right now he's been getting about 20 and is begging for more. He goes out hard and fast, comes back hard and fast. Doesn't want to give up the bumper and if I'm not careful he'll jump up and steal it back from me any chance he gets.....simply CRAZY about bumpers. He's not been introduced to birds yet but that's coming soon.