I've felt like my dog has been ready to move onto swim-by for the last month or so. But even though I'm surrounded by ponds and wetlands, I was finding it very difficult to find the right swim-by pond. So, in the meantime, I worked with her on forcing to water and some basic water-T drills. Nothing elaborate... just trying to do enough to keep the concepts fresh in my dog's head. Anyway, this afternoon I was determined to find something that would work. Some google-earthing and finally I found what I thought would be a suitable body of water. Upon arrival I confirmed that it would probably work, but it was definitely not the perfect scenario. It was basically a "finger" coming off the east end of a larger pond... so a near shoreline around three sides, then an hourglass leading to open water on the fourth side. I established the back pile and ran it several times. Then I ran a couple overs to the right, toward the open water, allowing Betty to return directly to me. After a couple more backs, I cast her to the right over and while she was in-route I ran around the opposite shoreline and attempted to call her in to me. It didn't work. She instead went back to the line where she started. I tried it again and had the same result. Crap. I realized that maybe by placing that "over" pile further out from the line she'd be less likely to return back to the line on retrieval. So after running another couple backs, I tried another right over cast, this time about 5 yds further out away from the line. Bingo. I was then able to whistle tweet and "here" over to the opposite shoreline. After just this one time "helping" her swim-by to the opposite shore, I gave it another try... but this time, I didn't run over there... I simply gave her a whistle when she grabbed the bumper and gave her a left cast toward the opposite shoreline. BINGO again! First try... she swam-by the whole way over to the opposite shore. I couldn't believe it. I was ecstatic and immediately threw her a fun bumper. After a couple more repetitions with some back casts thrown in, I decided to go around to the opposite side of the finger and run swim-by in the opposite direction... this time left casts to the bumper and right casts for the exit. Without a hitch, she nailed it 3 times in a row. I got greedy then, and decided to cast her right to a bumper and send her on a swim-by out into the open water to my left. As she swam toward the bumper, I thought to myself that I was an idiot for pushing it too far... that I should have just finished on a good note and been done with it... I was wondering if I'd regret this last swim. But BINGO for a third time! She swam-by like no big deal right out into the open water. Then I stopped her, cast her back to the right again toward the centerline, and tweeted her back into shore. Again, I couldn't believe it.
I know this is probably old hat for a lot of veteran trainers here on RTF but this is my first dog and my first attempt at training swim-by. I know we still have a lot more work and repetitions ahead but for now I am extremely pleased with how things went. I was really uncertain how it would go and to an extent I lacked a bit of confidence too while preparing for it. The fact that I had a hell of a time finding the right water just made things worse. I'm glad my dog bailed me out and helped make things easy on me today. I've read of the benefits of swim-by on here and in programs and such, but seeing it live is a totally different perspective. I know it was only one session, but after the first couple successful swim-bys I immediately noticed a more confident response to casts from my dog. She's been rock solid casting on land but sort of wishy-washy in the water. After tonight I suspect those water casts will improve greatly.
Thanks for reading. I just had to share!
I am following smartwork but if anyone has any tips pertaining to swim-by or drills to build off of swim-by please share. I try as best I can to soak up training information from as many sources as possible.