What do I do when the dog comes back with a clear indication it wants a bird other than the next shortest? Let it get the bird it wants, essentially trusting the dog, or pull it off to the next shortest, essentially trusting that the training and repetition will let the dog figure it out? What if you are watching a number of folks do something different and being more successful with the setup than than those doing things in the more typical manner?
I seem to guess wrong every time this comes up, unless I know that the dog didn't mark one of the birds.
Can we get some diagrams of field setups that secondary selection would be used ?
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My dog is often wrong but rarely in doubt, so I guess I will just hang on for the ride and then go train some more.
HR Belle's Rolling Big Rig "Jimmy"
I was judging an amateur a couple weeks ago, our birds were widely separated, a triple, short bird on the left about 160 yards, flyer up the middle (last bird down) about 220 yards and a far right birds on a hard to hold line through terrain, cover changes and an angle across a narrow strip of water about 325 yards. The left and right birds were over 90 degrees apart, the right hand bird was definitely the key bird. We had one handler and dog pick up the flyer, then the dog turns and faces the hard to get, way out there right hand bird, handler thought this is crazy, turned the dog 90 degrees left, pointed him at the much easier of the two remaining birds and sent him. The dog didn't even take a step in that direction, just blasted hard right, straight for that difficult punch bird. There were maybe four dogs out of 75 that ran right to that key bird, punched across the last water and pinned that bird, this dog was the best.
Always train for selection, but learn from experience how well your dog selects at a trial. Most labs are fairly compliant and select well at a trial, but there is the occasional excellent confident marker who can be trusted to pick his own bird.
Thanks John. I am being taught to do the same thing in training, but I am also being taught that an event is not training and you do what it takes to get the bird and get called back.
That was a good setup you described there, and I bet it was something to see when those 4 dogs pinned that long bird. I assume that the wind was blowing right to left, and the dogs that weren't really honest in that narrow strip of water probably got too far out to the right and upwind of the bird?
HR Belle's Rolling Big Rig "Jimmy"
A few points:
1. A handler has the ability to influence what bird the dog sets up for upon returning on the mat. Many times when a handler says "My dog wanted that bird" what they are saying is I didn't act decisively in influencing what bird to retrieve next.
2. If you break your training rules in competition (sit standard, selection, etc.) on a regular basis, pretty soon your dog understands that in competition it gets to do what it pleases
3. There is a good reason that most of us insist on secondary selection in training.
4. I would tend to follow secondary selection with a younger dog. I would tend to trust an older war horse.
Competition does not build character - It reveals it.
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