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I’ve got a 2 ½ year old GRF that is running at the Senior AKC level and training a little more advanced than that. She’s a very hard charging and fast dog. Typically, she’s an excellent marker. However, when running multiples, she will sometimes take a perfect line to the mark, over run it and then put on a BIG hunt. With tight multiple mark set ups, this big hunt has taken her into the area of an old fall. But, she does not slow down or commit to a hunt, so never considered it a switch. This past weekend a couple of judges saw it differently. Fair enough.

I read some of the posts on the different applications of the dirt clod drill and have some questions.

First, it appears that a version of the dirt clod drill can be used with singles to tighten up a dog’s hunt. If I run the dirt clod drill as singles to tighten up her hunt:
1) Does the thrower simply plant the bird once she leaves the AOF and wait for her to come back and find the bird on her own?
2) Does the thrower plant the bird once she leaves the AOF and make some noise to get her back in the AOF to find the bird? or
3) Do I correct/handle her when she leaves the AOF?
Option 1 makes the most sense to me because the dog is not relying upon either the thrower or the handler to help her find the bird.

Second, in those rare instances when she has entered the area of the old fall, she doesn’t slow down to establish a hunt, so I haven’t considered it a switch. Assuming I am incorrect and this is a switch, it appears that the dirt clod drill can be used to discourage switching. To do this, I would set up a tight double, send her for the go bird and the gunner would pick up the short memory bird when she is returning with the go bird. I then send her to the memory bird, which is no longer there. I assume that the suction to the old fall is strong enough that she is going to be encouraged to switch, in which case I correct her and handle once she establishes a hunt.
What do I do if she leaves the AOF for the memory bird, but does not commit to switch or establish hunt in the area of the old fall for the go bird?
1) Do I correct/handle her as soon as she gets in the general area of the old fall? or
2) Do I correct/handle her when she leaves the area of the fall for the memory bird?
 

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I don't think that drill is a good one to apply to this situation.

Consider doing a lot of multiple marks with bird boy help on the memory bird(s). Start with throwing a second, silent bird when the dog is at your side after delivering the go bird. If the dog overuns the AOF without checking down, have the bird boy help. As the dog improves, instead of throwing a second bird, just have the bb make the arm motion of throwing a bird. Further improvement would mean no help while the dog is on the line prior to being sent, but helping whenever the dog does not check down. I also think that to get through this problem it would be a good idea to only throw flat or slightly angle in throws for a while. Yes, this will unbalance the dog somewhat, but with a hard charger it will take care of itself once this problem is behind you.

The next step would logically be abcd drills to get your dog comfortable with driving through old falls and maintaining a good line to the bird. good luck!-Paul
 

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The dirt clod drill is definitely the right way to address your problem. Use single marks in NO COVER.
Mow the grass if you have to. Do not handle. You want to accomplish this with as little help from people as possible. Throw a fifty yard mark using a clod and send the dog. Have the gun stand ready to throw a bumper into the center of the fall area without seeming obvious to the dog. (no body English)
When the dog leaves the area of the fall the gun should throw the bumper making sure the dog does not see any part of the throw. The dog will usually work his way back to the aof and find the bumper on his own. Only help if the dog becomes totally lost.
Repeat about six or seven times per session or quit before the dog over heats. By the third session you will notice the dog is reluctant to leave the area of fall. He will also start hunting tighter to the fall.
The reason dogs hunt big is they think the bird is in front of them. This exercise teaches the dog that the mark is probably behind him so when he runs through the aof he will check behind him to see if he missed it.
Caution – You can overdo this drill and have the dog hunting so tight that he will miss a flyer that landed long.
When you are done with the exercise and are running marks you can handle when the dog leaves the aof or tries to switch and he will understand what he did wrong.
 

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Sounds like she needs to go back to basics on force fetch.
Sorry, but I totally disagree with you. Sounds like the dog needs to learn how to tighten up it's hunt pattern.
 

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Sorry, but I totally disagree with you. Sounds like the dog needs to learn how to tighten up it's hunt pattern.
I agree. And that is one of the better adaptations of dirt clod drills. I run mine like this.

Dirt Clod Drill (aka Cow Chip Drill, etc.)

This valuable little drill has a number of applications depending on need. I’ll focus on your dog in this explanation, and that is de-switching. A dog prone to switching lacks discipline about diligently hunting a fall to the extent that they will readily leave a hunt to go and hunt another fall.

Keeping in mind the age and developmental level of this dog, we’ll approach the cure on a more advanced level. That will include literally setting him up to commit the foul you have cited as habitual, and then correct it sternly for lasting effects. Bear in mind, this is something you will likely need to do a number of times, reading your dog as you go for the development of a conscience.

D.L. Walters once noted that when a dog has been given enough education about his job that he must learn a sense of obligation about doing it to be reliable. I agree with that, and this drill is designed to do that.



The first step will be to configure a set of double marks with ample suction away from the go bird. Above is an example of Flower Pot marks in a tight formation that would tend to draw a dog toward the longer mark if he over ran the shorter one (the “go” bird). I would say to set yours up so that there is no more than 50 yards between the falls. (“Pinched”, or converging marks also work well)

The dynamics of the drill, as they were originally run, included having your bird boy either throw a large dirt clod or a cow chip. The thrown object was roughly the size of a bird, and we used enough distance that they couldn’t tell the difference. But, when they got to the fall area, there was no bird. That is because we wanted them to quit the hunt, if they had that proclivity, so we could correct them for it. They would sometimes leave it instantly, finding no mark in the area.

Instruct your bird boy to be ready to slip a bird out into the fall area on your cue. This would happen when the dog left the AOF to go for another mark. You’ll make your correction, and direct your dog back into the fall area to resume the hunt. Try not to get side tracked here about “What do you do if he doesn’t hunt”. We’ll get to that.

The fall area of the go bird should be open ground. There should not be cover in the fall area adequate to hide even a pigeon. When your dog returns to the fall area, the bird will be visible, and retrieving it should be virtually automatic.

Don’t re-run it. Put him up and go run something non-mark related. Come back tomorrow and run another Dirt Clod Drill in another spot, and change the configuration slightly to have a different look for the dog.

As for when to make the correction, let me say this. First, I no longer use dirt clods or cow chips. I use the same drill dynamics, but we throw birds (ducks), and attach decoy anchor lines to both of them. The distance to the shortest fall (the go bird) is about 75-80 yards, so the bird boy has plenty of time to reel in the bird after the dog is sent. The bird boys retrieve both marks, so the dog isn’t ever rewarded by a switch.

That allows a more effective application of the drill because I allow the dog to complete the switch and establish a hunt in the long fall area. Just as he commits to the hunt, “Toot” – nick – “Toot”, and then “Toot, toot” to direct the dog to come back into the go bird fall area, where the bird boy will have already replaced the fall with a duck that has no line attached to it. This rewards the dog for hunting the fall area of the go bird, in direct opposition to having been corrected in the long fall.

I do not send them for the long mark, where they’ve just received a correction.

In the rare case of a dog hunting so diligently for the go bird that he will not leave it to switch, I instruct my bird boy to be ready to sneak out a bird on my cue, and to do so in a manner that the dog will not see him do it. That is a reward for a diligent hunt. But that rarely occurs.

Evan
 

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Sounds to me like a very poor mark. Sounds like the dog knows the direction the bird was tossed, but doesn't have a damn clue where the bird is and is hoping to wind it.

I would shorten the memory bird up greatly, like hand thrown from the line. When the dog comes in with the go bird let them line themselves up for the memory bird, are they looking in the right spot? Let them really build the picture. After the looking around stops and they are focused on the right spot give them a good count to 5 or 10 before you send them.
 

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In training on marking set ups, I call it a switch when the dog makes the decisoin to give up a hunt and head for an old fall or another bird. I will sometimes correct after the dog leaves the AOF, but before he gets to an old fall or another gun. The reason for this is that I want the dog to understand that he is being corrected for leaving this area, not for being in the other area. I will not give a collar correction, and do my best not to handle in the area of the fall. The dog will too easily associate the correction with the gunner. I will either handle back to the area of the fall and let the dog resme hunting or I may have the gunner stand up, make noise with the winger, etc. to help the dog stay in the area.

Dennis Voigt has written in Retrievers ONLINE describing his version of the dirt clod drill as well as other drills to tighten up hunts. An article index is available on the web site and back issues are available. This is money well spent and you will get far better explanation than I can give here.
 

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According to the O.P. the dog does not hunt the area of the fall at all. It is blowing thru it and hunting long and big. This is not a switch or leaving the AOF after a cursory hunt, and that's the reason i don't think clodding is going to cure the problem. It is putting on a huge hunt and if the setup is sufficiently tight, it ends up in an old AOF.
a TIGHT setup, according to the O.P., not a wide open setup like Evan has drawn up.

I think this dog is not marking the memory bird at all, or has poor memory skills at this time. Memory can be enhanced thru training.-Paul
 

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Excuse the inexperience here, from my part, but first of all when she is overrunning these marks, what type of terrain are we talking about? Is it flat/short grass or are we talking thick cover or tall grass. If it's a flat area with no cover and she can easily see the bumber/bird and she is a great marker, I feel she is going and retrieving on her own terms, but if there is cover and she can't physically see the bumper/bird and she is over running it. The dirt clot drill sounds like a good idea, but i'm just a novice and trying to learn like some of us here.
 

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Novices should be VERY CAREFUL about the advice they give. IF you are CERTAIN you are giving good advice, cool, but to tell someone to apply pressure is something that novices should stay well away from. Too many people know nothing and can take advice very literally
Excuse the inexperience here, from my part, but first of all when she is overrunning these marks, what type of terrain are we talking about? Is it flat/short grass or are we talking thick cover or tall grass. If it's a flat area with no cover and she can easily see the bumber/bird and she is a great marker, I feel she is going and retrieving on her own terms, but if there is cover and she can't physically see the bumper/bird and she is over running it. The dirt clot drill sounds like a good idea, but i'm just a novice and trying to learn like some of us here.
 

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I’ve got a 2 ½ year old GRF that is running at the Senior AKC level and training a little more advanced than that. She’s a very hard charging and fast dog. Typically, she’s an excellent marker. However, when running multiples, she will sometimes take a perfect line to the mark, over run it and then put on a BIG hunt. With tight multiple mark set ups, this big hunt has taken her into the area of an old fall. But, she does not slow down or commit to a hunt, so never considered it a switch. This past weekend a couple of judges saw it differently. Fair enough.
Brian,

The reason I think you're looking in the right direction for your dog is that I've encountered this behavior in several dogs, some to an extreme. The one your dog reminds me of most was named "Ebby". She had talent from a very early age, but loved to run for the joy of running. Her owner had not been able to get her through a first series in Derby because she started each one doing just what you have described. We treated her with dirt clod drills as I've described.

If you set up a double as I've diagrammed you'll not find it wide open to your dog, but rather very tempting. But, providing Flower Pot marks as a basis, you'll give your dog more black & white rules to break for running this drill. But I would caution anyone using this application not to run it too often. Run it every other day over a course of a week at most, and less if your dog begins showing signs of popping on marks, or other issues.

Usually, this treatment provides very quick results. If you see those results early, that's fine. Do it once or twice more before returning to cold set ups.

As for "Ebby"? She finished her Derby career with 19 points, winning a Junior Double header (winning the Derby & Qual at the same trial) when she was 19 months old. She also had two Amateur wins before an injury prematurely ended her career. I'd say dirt clod drill was the right therapy, and she never needed it again.

Evan
 

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Brian,


.....

But I would caution anyone using this application not to run it too often. Run it every other day over a course of a week at most, and less if your dog begins showing signs of popping on marks, or other issues.


.....

Evan
Totally agree with this part. Always keep in mind that when you are overzealous in treating one problem, you risk creating another.

In this case, you want your dog to believe in what he saw and stick with his hunt rather than look for an easy way out. BUT, you don't want him to become AFRAID to expand his hunt at all ... there will be times when he DOES mismark and will need to leave the area he is initially hunting.

Read the dog and watch closely for signs he is getting the message. Balance is everything.

JS
 

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According to the O.P. the dog does not hunt the area of the fall at all. It is blowing thru it and hunting long and big. This is not a switch or leaving the AOF after a cursory hunt, and that's the reason i don't think clodding is going to cure the problem. It is putting on a huge hunt and if the setup is sufficiently tight, it ends up in an old AOF.
a TIGHT setup, according to the O.P., not a wide open setup like Evan has drawn up.

I think this dog is not marking the memory bird at all, or has poor memory skills at this time. Memory can be enhanced thru training.-Paul
As I said above, I am with Paul on this one. Sounds like a piss poor mark/memory, you need to simplify and build the skills required to mark and remember where that bird is.

lower cover
shorter memory bird (like 20 yards to start with)
throwing the mark at something easy to remember (like the base of the only tree in the field).

Without seeing the dog though, she may be just out on a joy run.....
 

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Little Friday funny: So we had no dirt clods or cow chips so Sehon ties up a little grass bundle.Buster checks down and nails the grass bundle and delivers like he just won the National !
:lol: :lol:
 

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Sounds like a piss poor mark/memory, you need to simplify and build the skills required to mark and remember where that bird is.
If he were referring to one mark I would agree. But...
I’ve got a 2 ½ year old GRF that is running at the Senior AKC level and training a little more advanced than that. She’s a very hard charging and fast dog. Typically, she’s an excellent marker. However, when running multiples, she will sometimes take a perfect line to the mark, over run it and then put on a BIG hunt. With tight multiple mark set ups, this big hunt has taken her into the area of an old fall. But, she does not slow down or commit to a hunt, so never considered it a switch. This past weekend a couple of judges saw it differently.
That sounds like a habit, and it's one based in a lack of discipline. The owner states she's typically an excellent marker. But excellent markers can look poor when they lack discipline, and that's what dirt clod drills address.

Of course they can be applied in different ways to address various nuances. But this one seems pretty straight forward. I'm now wondering how it's going for this dog?

Evan
 
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