I never used to put my hand down on marks.
I always did on blinds.
I have been taught a routine now dropping my hand on the go bird when running marking set ups.
Its more used as a steadying tool.
I will say, I have witnessed older ,,experienced dogs ,,,who may on their blinds ,Look away from the destination point the handler wants. The experienced handler will command "Here" with the hand over the head, and the dog will immediatly look to that point.
With young dogs(Like mine) I have been chewed out for messin with her at the line trying to "Line" her.. Maybe command "here" or "heel" ONCE,, then if you dont get what you want,, I am told Kick the dog off and handle.. I have noticed very subtle improvements on her leaving the line with a good initial line now,Very slow improvements though.
I was always taught by those much more knowledgeablethen my self it's all about the eyes where the dog is going. Spine can be correct, head can be correct, eyes someplace else. I try look over the dogs head to see the eyes or watch the eyebrows, when they are in sinc, hand over the head for the release. That's all the hand is, the release. Waving the hand side to side, hand up and down, pushing with a forward motion is useless in training! At a field trial or hunt test
Sometimes a slight tap on the knee, a here or heel for push pull, a step up or back, a slight tap on the knee put the hand out in front, whatever it takes, with watch the eyes. Competition handling is different then training handling, if you go in a training mode at a trial , well it might be a ticket home. Perfect world in training with good habits, whatever it takes to win or survive at a trial within the rules or guidelines of the event.
There is a fine line between "helping" a dog and teaching (albeit indirectly) a dog not to trust its own innate abilities
Part of being a good marking dog is having confidence in your abilities
Help a dog too much, and you teach a dog not to trust itself
Don't help a dog and maybe you are driving home instead of playing on
I have helped when I shouldn't have and I have not helped when I should have (and done both late in Nationals)
No hard and fast rules here
I enjoyed a Pat Burns seminar where he presented his thoughts on advanced, multiple layer wagon wheel drills for refining pup's initial lines and getting adjustments to that line. Pup at heel where you can look down and see the eyes. Use body and leg "english" to get the proper alignment. When pup is really tuned the hand position can be used to make very fine adjustments. Hand slightly in front of dog will tend to push him slightly to the left. Hand behind will tend to pull him to the right. I'm not there yet but getting better with the dog's position and watching the eyes and eyebrows to make sure he's seeing what I'm hoping he sees.
Now, if I could just do that at a trial . . .
The leg closest to the dog, has the most influence. So, if I need a "big" shift, that's the leg that I move.
Over time, a dog becomes more and more comfortable with small changes.
But, a young dog isn't at that point yet. You can't be too picky, or they just get nervous and uptight.
I almost always get very good ILs and I don't drop my hand in until their is a focus and commitment in their eyes.
That said, how is it I hear some folks can teach their dog to follow a gun barrel but it's not possible to influence their line with your hand???
I always put my hand down for releaseing on a mark. That is so she knows not to go until my hand comes down over he head, not on the side. On a blind I use my hand on the side of her head for direction. The hand is not put down until she is in a good postion. I use heel if I need to swing her but in in and here to pull head over if needed and tape my leg for lineing if needed.