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Thread: Handling on Marks

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    Senior Member oneshotlu's Avatar
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    Default Handling on Marks

    HELP! I've got a dog that is very reliant on the handler during marks... if he doesn't run straight to the bird he likes to immediately pop and wait for a cast and rarely really searches the area of the fall. We have been working diligently to keep him from popping right when he gets to the area of the fall. He is doing much better lately and is starting to hunt on his own, but I am afraid to handle at all now in fear that he may revert back to his old ways and just rely on me to handle him. So, my question is, when is the right time to handle on a mark? Yesterday for example, we threw about a 100 yard triple mark and on the third bumper he took a line that brought him about 30 yards to the left of the fall area and ran about 30 yards past the fall where I stopped him, whistled him closer, and gave him a right over cast to the bumper. I thought maybe the better option would be to have the thrower toss another bumper into the area of the fall so he would find it on his own, but in the heat of the moment it's hard to know what exactly to do. What would you have done? What would you do to improve his hunting ability during marks and stop relying on the handler? And finally, when is the right time to handle on marks? Handling my dogs to a mark wouldn't have bothered me in the past because I only hunt with them, but now that I am getting into HRC and AKC hunt tests I don't want him trying to pop on me during a mark at a test. Thanks in advance for any advice you are able to give me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by oneshotlu View Post
    HELP! I've got a dog that is very reliant on the handler during marks... if he doesn't run straight to the bird he likes to immediately pop and wait for a cast and rarely really searches the area of the fall. We have been working diligently to keep him from popping right when he gets to the area of the fall. He is doing much better lately and is starting to hunt on his own, but I am afraid to handle at all now in fear that he may revert back to his old ways and just rely on me to handle him. So, my question is, when is the right time to handle on a mark? Yesterday for example, we threw about a 100 yard triple mark and on the third bumper he took a line that brought him about 30 yards to the left of the fall area and ran about 30 yards past the fall where I stopped him, whistled him closer, and gave him a right over cast to the bumper. I thought maybe the better option would be to have the thrower toss another bumper into the area of the fall so he would find it on his own, but in the heat of the moment it's hard to know what exactly to do. What would you have done? GUN HELP. SET DOG UP AGAIN, REPEAT MARK, THROW 2 BUMPERS FROM LINE SO THAT IT IS A MEMORY BIRD. What would you do to improve his hunting ability during marks and stop relying on the handler? SINGLES-LOT'S OF THEM. EASY AT FIRST, BECOMING MORE DIFFICULT AS HE GAINS CONFIDENCE AND HIS HUNTS IMPROVE. And finally, when is the right time to handle on marks? WITH THIS DOG, IN TRAINING, ALMOST NEVER. IN A TEST, WHEN YOU FEEL HE HAS NO CHANCE OF RECOVERING THE BIRD ON HIS OWN. Handling my dogs to a mark wouldn't have bothered me in the past because I only hunt with them, but now that I am getting into HRC and AKC hunt tests I don't want him trying to pop on me during a mark at a test. Thanks in advance for any advice you are able to give me!

    I'm not really shouting at you. Caps were so that my answers would stand out for you. Good luck!-Paul
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    Senior Member oneshotlu's Avatar
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    Thank you, Paul. This was very helpful!

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    Senior Member mitty's Avatar
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    Are your gunners out, wearing white? Or are they hidden?

    Can you tell from your dog's body language that it "remembers" the mark?
    Renee P

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    Senior Member oneshotlu's Avatar
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    Gunner was wearing a black shirt, but the line he took was away from the gunner (gunner was throwing from the right and he took a line about 30 yards left of where the bumper fell). The dog loves to run straight lines as far as he can get away with (he's very good with blind retrieves because he will run a straight line for miles if you let him) so it seems as if maybe he wasn't sure exactly where it landed so he just decided to run straight and fast until hopefully he ran past it. He was charging hard in a straight line so initially it seemed as if he was just trying to run a line downwind of the fall area so he would smell the bumper, but then when he ran straight past the fall area it seemed like it was time to stop him and bring him back. He wasn't planning on stopping anytime soon though, so I don't know what to think.

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    Senior Member mitty's Avatar
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    I am no help with your question, meanwhile it sounds like your dog is doing the right thing, but that you are sending him to the wrong place. If you have your dog lined up to go 30 yards wide of a 100 yard mark, why are you sending him?
    Renee P

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    Senior Member BonMallari's Avatar
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    To the OP: you have built in the POP, by handling so quickly when the dog is sent ,you have bailed the dog out..quit handling on marks and make the dog stick to the task at hand ...to be blunt and honest once a dog starts popping and you handle you have given the dog what he wants which is help
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    Senior Member oneshotlu's Avatar
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    He was initially lined up right when I sent him, but then started to run left of the fall. I'm a hunter, so to me, if the dog wants to run a line a little to the left of the fall so he can wind it, I am okay with that. But, my point is, he clearly didn't know where it was because he continued to charge straight past it with his head held up in the air. He wasn't using his nose and he wasn't stopping to hunt. Based on what the dog has done in the past, if I wouldn't have stopped him myself, he would eventually pop and wait for a cast from me.

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    Senior Member fishin444's Avatar
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    Wait until your dog has the picture of the mark in his head. Meaning the dog will be staring intently in the correct direction and line. Reheel the dog until he gets it. If the dog pops on you bring him back about half way and resend. If he seems lost or establishes a hunt in an incorrect area. Have the thrower get his attention. HEY HEY HEY to bring him in to the fall. You will need to shorten up the throws and build some success then gradually increase the distances. You might try using large white or black bumpers in mowed or very light cover to begin with. When you are at the line watching the dogs head and ears will tell I got it or I don't have it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member oneshotlu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonMallari View Post
    To the OP: you have built in the POP, by handling so quickly when the dog is sent ,you have bailed the dog out..quit handling on marks and make the dog stick to the task at hand ...to be blunt and honest once a dog starts popping and you handle you have given the dog what he wants which is help
    This is what I have been doing for the past few weeks, and he is getting better about it. I know it is my fault for handling him on marks too often early on in training, because until I joined a retriever club I didn't realize you should never handle on marks unless you have to. I should add that when he can't find the bird on his own he will give up and come back to me, so at this point, would you just run the drill again?

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