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popping on blinds? need alt. methods

3463 Views 23 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Dave Burton
I have a 4 year old female that has been a different case since she was a puppy. She has never responed well to pressure and as a result never accepted force very well and shuts down fairly easily. She went through juniors and I thought that was as far as she would go. Using some unconventional methods and alot of confidence building excercises. She now has a Senior title and 1 master pass. She has always had a minor popping problem. As we started running masters I knew we would have to find a way to curb the popping. After going back over alot of training material I decided to revisit the force concept. As I expected the popping has become worse. I am now sure pressure- force is not the answer for this particular dog. So I am on the hunt for ideas for curbing a popping problem without using force. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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So I am on the hunt for ideas for curbing a popping problem without using force.
Popping it seems to me is always a man made thing brought about by excessive use of the stop whistle or other forms of correction causing a lack of confidence on the dog's part. He expresses that lack of confidence by stopping and then looking back to the handler for reassurance; hence "popping".

So, the simple answer is drop the corrections at least pro tem, and build up the dog's confidence to the point where popping disappears.

One way would be to run a graduated series of cued "memory retrieves", then transition into very easy, but nonetheless genuine, cold blinds.

I'm sure you know this, but for them as don't ...

With the dog at heel, drop a dummy into a very easily identified spot; might be at the foot of a tree, by a fence post, bit of tussocky grass, traffic cone, whatever. Walk on a few yards and send him. Over time build up the distance. When he's running with confidence do the same dodge, but from a different angle. Then from all sorts of angles.

When that's down, unseen by the dog, salt the spot and run him from a couple of feet. Continue but progressively add distance and angular variation. Then in a bit of fresh cover send him on a genuine un-cued cold blind from a few feet. Make sure he'll find something by planting multiple retrieves, up wind; if you've got a few fresh shot birds so much the better. At this point you'll hopefully have run a full monty, albeit simple, cold blind without a pop. Just build up from there.

Best I can do from this remove,

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My suggestion of utilising memory retrieves will help I'm sure, but taking up the point Bert made, I should have clearly stressed that I never correct the dog when doing this as a remediation. I do however in the tired old phrase "make it easy to succeed and nearly impossible to fail." This is after all a confidence boosting exercise, nothing else; so if you run the drill and at the same time use it as a handling exercise, the value is IMO lost.

In building up a long out run on a straight line without corrections you'll have to help the dog with your choice of terrain and anything else you can conjure up. A chum of ours does it along the touchline of a floodlight soccer pitch. I use a fold in the ground to build up confidence; just as Fido starts to get a bit uncertain, he breasts the rise and there another sixty yards out is a big fat white bumper.

One sort of off the wall suggestion after you've gone through the remediation phase is not to correct her as soon as you see she's off line (like at forty yards) but wait until she's well out, then give a whistle stop and big "over". I don't know how that fits into your "games" so take it for what it's worth. It's just an effort to retain the confidence in her mind for as long as you can.

Given that your girl is four and has the popping habit ingrained, and that you want to run in trials / tests where corrections for wandering off line are important, you are always going to be on a bit of a tightrope with this one, so softly softly catcheee monkey.

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