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Thread: Long Distance Lining!!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Stephen Whitley's Avatar
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    Default Long Distance Lining!!

    After running our first master test last weekend my mind has been working overtime! What do these guys(pros) do to maintain or improve a dogs' lining skills? Lardy says that dogs learn to go straight through handling. Do pros do anything other than handle to make a dog go straighter for a longer distance? My dog handles very well at this point. However, I would love for him to line a blind in a test just once!!! And I know that judges should set up a blind that should cause the dog to have to be handled. But, still, I see a few master dogs line the blinds. I want to be that guy one time! Do pros do lining drills for their advanced dogs or do they just set up blinds and run them and handle and not worry about how long the dog holds his line? I would think for field trial dogs that they have to do something to keep them on line for a long distance since the straightest line wins. What do they/you do? Thanks!
    Stephen

  2. #2
    Senior Member JS's Avatar
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    They do a lot of things that mostly just stretch the dog out.

    Set up super long blinds and follow the dog out to stay within a "controllable" distance.

    Try to "always" set up your blinds at the end of the field or the end of the pond. That gets the dog in the mindset that when you say "dead bird" or whatever, he thinks he's going to the horizon.

    Run 3 or more back to back in a session.

    JS
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    Jack's right, run longer blinds. I often am running 200 yard blinds or better even though I am running dogs in the hunt test arena and will seldom see blinds over 100 yards as per the rule. The idea is if you can run a dog on a 200 yard blind and maintain control of him out there, then a 100 yard blind may be a lot easier. Your dog and you will have more confidence. It is kind of like the guy who has been throwing all his marks from his side by hand and then when the dog has to go out on a 100 yard retrieve, the dog stops at precisely the point that the handler can hand throw a bumper and begins his hunt there. So if you train long on blinds, the dog is going to perhaps take that first 100 yards straight as an arrow with a head full of steam.

    However, you can't just run long blinds and expect to be lining the blind. You have to have a dog that is confident at the beginning while you are setting him up and is looking out into the field and picking out his target, and that target better be the same one as you have in mind. You also need to run lots of blinds with factors, whether it be a point to go over, an obstacle to go over, under or through, suction form the bird crates, holding blind, gunner or old fall.

    Now with that said, I don' tknow anybody that trains with the idea of "lining the blind." They train to handle challenging blinds with as much style, perseverance and control as they can. If the dog lines it, WOOHOO! You got lucky. And if the blind is one that a lot of dogs are lining, the judges are probably not real happy with the test and wish it might have been a little more challenging. Been there, done that on both accounts.

  4. #4
    Kristie Wilder
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    Lining drills don't teach dogs to carry straight lines over distance. They are basically to teach an INITIAL line. I follow Mike Lardy's program, so I naturally agree with him.

    Here's what happens over a period of time, typically 6 or more months once your dog starts running blinds:

    1) The first blind "experience" your dog has is typically pattern blinds. These are taught/known destinations. Dogs frequently line them quite easily for that reason. What we are doing here is building MOMENTUM. We just want the dog to go, go, go when sent on back. And then to simply distinguish between three different blinds -- ALWAYS in the same place, same field. We ONLY enforce go/stop/come. We do NOT look for precision casting. We simply want the dog to change direction when cast, even if it's not a perfect cast. As long as they make an EFFORT that's all we need at that point in training.

    2) In Mike Lardy's program, we then move to blind drills. These are taught single blinds where we then introduce a gunner to the field and then a throw -- we run the blind one or more times before the gunner is introduced, after he's introduced and then after he throws a mark. This teaches the dog to change direction off distractions. So now we've advanced to a more complex scenario where we're teaching the dog to understand the change in direction with something (the gunner) en route to the blind.

    3) At this point, we've either done or are also doing or will do... Pattern blinds with diversions. Back to the pattern blind field with marks set within the pattern blinds. Run a blind, throw a mark, run a blind, run another blind, throw a mark. We mix it up and again, add complexity to the changing of direction.

    4) Then we're typically ready to run our first cold blinds. They're on flat, featureless fields with the wind at our back if there is any. We again simply ask for go/stop/come and a change of direction. And, while we'd LOVE to line all these blinds, we are working on MOMENTUM. They may look like giant zigzags on paper and that's ok.

    HERE is where LINES start to develop....

    All of our dogs early cold blinds are for MOMENTUM only. We are NOT trying to get them to take factors. We are just reinforcing the most basic concepts of blind running -- go/stop/come/change direction. Pressure is used sparingly, but if necessary. Attrition is used if the dog has problems changing direction -- for the most part, but it varies from dog to dog.

    So, picture this... A first cold blind may look like a giant zigzag on paper. Over time, as the dog understands what a blind is, you'll see he'll get better at initial lines and you can tighten up that zigzag. When you do it right, you begin seeing LESS NEED for casting. The dog is starting to understand and is carrying lines and casts farther and farther.

    A VERY IMPORTANT part of this process is YOUR COMMUNICATION AT THE LINE. One of my favorite training tidbits is from an Andy Attar seminar... And that is "SHEA" -- spine, head, eyes, attitude.

    You line each of those things up prior to sending the dog. If your dog's spine is lined up 45 degrees to where you're sending him, you're sending the wrong message. NOW... With dogs just starting to run cold blinds, we're looser on "SHEA" -- we get their spine lined up and work on their head. But we don't nitpick, we want to just get them out of there. As they progress, we'll see them "lock on" better and better. And then we do the "full" "SHEA" and make sure the dog is very focused on the destination before sending them.

    The dog will learn over time that the direction that you are communicating is where they need to run to without stopping until they find a bird...

    Soooooooooooooooo.... Lining blinds comes from:

    1) Good transition from momentum (casting for change in direction adn to maintain good attitude/style) to literal casting (literal casting is where the cast, when taken, will take them directly to the bird) -- "tightening up the zigzag"

    and

    2) Good communication on the line -- setting your dog up properly, not nitpicking when they're just starting (will cause bugging and maybe nogos) but then building to where you and your dog can really work together in "locking on" to the destination so that when you send them, they carry that line as long and far as possible.

    Hope this makes sense. If you follow Lardy's program, this is basically MY explanation of MY understanding of it...

    -K
    Last edited by Kristie Wilder; 10-14-2008 at 09:30 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lisa Van Loo's Avatar
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    Long blinds. I call 'em "Yee-Haw" blinds, because once a dog has had a few of them, they really get into the idea that they can run (and run, and run...).

    To get a dog that lines well, first you have to have a dog that can pick a spot on the horizon. Believe it or not, not all dogs have this capacity. Gopher does not. She just goes wherever my left foot is pointing, has no concept of an "end point". Really good blind-running dogs look out and say "I am going THERE", and "there" is where they head when you kick them off the line.

    To teach a dog to stick closer to that initial line, you have to gradually tighten up the "lane" you cast within. With young dogs, we let them get a bit off line before stop-and-cast. This maintains momentum. As a dog develops confidence running blinds, you don't have to wait so long to blow the whistle and cast. The more blinds you run, and the more stop-and-cast your dog does, the more he will "tolerate" having his line corrected without losing confidence. You have to really read your dog.

    All-age dogs and experienced Master dogs have run many, many blinds, and can handle even minute corrections to their line without breaking momentum. It is a gradual process. You don't want to strat out nit-picking, but build up to it, and you may end up with a dog who "gets it" and runs very clean blinds for you.

    Oddly enough, Gopher, who has no clue where she is going, starts out slow, but tolerates minute corrections, and usually only needs two whistles, one to tell her when she is too far to the left, and one when she is too far to the right. After that, she runs like hell in a straight line, satisfied that I am firmly in the driver's seat. Strange dog!

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  6. #6

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    That is the most concise and best advise I think I have ever seen for the steps needed to teach / learn how to run blinds on this forum. Thank you, Kristie.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Don Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristie Wilder View Post
    A VERY IMPORTANT part of this process is YOUR COMMUNICATION AT THE LINE. One of my favorite training tidbits is from an Andy Attar seminar... And that is "SHEA" -- spine, head, eyes, attitude.

    You line each of those things up prior to sending the dog.
    Great post, Kristie, and I agree that confirming "SHEA" at the line is very important. I sometimes see dogs sent when it's not all there and, not surprisingly, the initial line is bad. I make it a habit, once lining up the dog, to lean back and look carefully from the base of the tail, up the spine, to the head to the blind to confirm that we are lined up. I'll never forget when my late Belle lined both of the blinds on the land series this past Spring. I'm sure confirming her preparation helped.
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    As a new member of this forum, Kristie's explanation is outstanding. My dog is beginning cold blinds and his handler (me) was unsure as to what I was doing. Now I know. THANK YOU.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Stephen Whitley's Avatar
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    The dog needs to be able to pick a point out in the distance and run to it...okay. I have never used white flags or buckets or anything to help because I figured later when I took the flag away it would turn into another problem I would have to address down the road. Do you use any kind of marker to help the dog learn to look way out there?
    Stephen

  10. #10
    Kristie Wilder
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Whitley View Post
    The dog needs to be able to pick a point out in the distance and run to it...okay. I have never used white flags or buckets or anything to help because I figured later when I took the flag away it would turn into another problem I would have to address down the road. Do you use any kind of marker to help the dog learn to look way out there?
    No markers. The SHEA thing works partly because you've hopefully lined your dog up consistently on marks from the first time you ever sent them... So the dogs already have an understanding of "go as sent" when you start running blinds. The only thing is you add is the "back" and the fact that they didn't see anything fall... So they already have some building blocks to work on lines... based on what you've done on marks.

    -K

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