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Thread: Hand Signal Confusion

  1. #1
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    Default Hand Signal Confusion

    I've got a 10 month old lab pup that overall is doing spectacular. When I try to cast him from a distance I will stick my left arm straight out to the left to cast left, right arm straight out when casting right, and right arm straight up to cast him back.

    He frequently will confuse the back command with cast right, I assume since I'm using the same arm. What can I do to correct this, and is there a better signal that is less confusing?

  2. #2
    Senior Member polmaise's Avatar
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    No hands back
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    Quote Originally Posted by polmaise View Post
    No hands back

    So how would I signal a back at a distance?

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    Senior Member CodyC's Avatar
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    Make your "over" cast exaggerated to start with. I mean when you give a right cast, take a step to the right while casting over with your right arm too. Same with left cast. It will really encourage the dog to go that way. That helped with my dog. Then slowly ween your exaggerations down to where you are just using your arm. You definitely need to have a hand signal for back cast especially when the dog gets at a distance.

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    Senior Member gdgnyc's Avatar
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    Reteach, start from the beginning, and put that dog on a long line.
    But if you plan not to teach angle back, just use the arm opposite from the one you used for over.
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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    When you say "a distance", about how much distance?

    Evan
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    You probably want to build this skill in more of a controlled setting. What you want to have at the end of the day is a dog who will go straight over when your arm is straight out (left or right) and on a "Back" you want the dog to spin to his left and drive back if you stick your right arm up, and spin to the right and dig back if you stick your left hand straight up.

    I should tell you that there are some super DVD's and books you can buy that will show you the whole step-wise program for developing a good handling dog. A search for Bill Hillmann or Mike Lardy or Smartworks by Even Graham and there are lots of others.

    But for right now...

    Put out a couple of bumpers about 15 feet or so apart. Sit the dog down about 15 or so feet in front of the piles... facing away from them. Go stand in front of your dog. Blow your sit whistle (I know he's already sitting, but he needs to get the hang of the timing... sit... watch me now, something is about to happen... handle.) So the dog is sitting. Now choose either left or right arm. As you stick it up in the air, put a lot of body language into it and say "back".

    First, you'll probably be surprised how easy this is for a smart dog who wants to retrieve.
    Second, you probably will both have fun doing this. Make it a game.

    When he's doing that... find a flat field with low cover, visualize a baseball field in your head. Put bumpers at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and your dog on the pitcher's mound facing you at home plate. You can work on right and left overs and the right back and left back. Remember: Sit whistle. Pause (1-1000, 2-1000... make him wait a bit and get eager and ready to move) then handle. Give it some body English.

    The reason you want a dog to spin both ways is because you never get the full 180 degree turn. So you're helping him by letting him know on which side of the true line he'll find that bird.

    You'll really enjoy those books and DVD's and you'll find a bunch of them advertised on this sight. And you'll make a lot of good friends who can help you if you seek out a local retriever club.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
    Senior Member polmaise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ztkirkpatric View Post
    So how would I signal a back at a distance?
    This is 400 yards . Which hand does the dog see ?
    400 yards.jpg
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    Senior Member BonMallari's Avatar
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    I learned from Roy McFall to throw my over from my hand at my side UP, as if you were reaching to shake someones hand to your side, that way it is a very different motion from any back or angled back cast...
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonMallari View Post
    I learned from Roy McFall to throw my over from my hand at my side UP, as if you were reaching to shake someones hand to your side, that way it is a very different motion from any back or angled back cast...
    Thank you, this is a great suggestion.

    I am working at roughly 20-30 yards. He will turn the direction of the arm when he does it right. He began doing this naturally. He cast left and right correctly, 95% of the time.... Back all of the time if he hears the verbal command. However at a distance when just given a visual he gets confused. I will try to monitor and control my arm movement better, while taking your advice.

    I hunt flooded timber most of the time so 400 yard retrieves isn't something I will frequently ask the dog to do. He does however need to know to go back when I'm not at his side.

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