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Discussion Starter #1
You may think sit meas sit, but my guess is that it really doesn?t to your dog.

I can discuss this subject because in many respects, I am an expert. By expert, I mean that my dogs are known offenders (one having broken in two different trials in the fourth series where we were on the leader board) and that I am, in no small measure, to blame.

First, some background. My dogs are professionally trained by Cherylon Loveland. She does not run trials, I do. In the off-season, I train every weekend. In season, I train Thursday, then jump in my dog truck.

Second, it doesn?t matter what you do, the dogs know a field trial (or hunt test). I don?t care what you do, you cannot replicate battle conditions, only approximate. At a FT, there is no collar. There are lots more people, dogs, and truck. The dogs sit around longer. There are more guns at the flyer station. They get a shot duck or pheasant - not a pigeon. So, if you have a high powered dog, he is going to be jacked up. That is a given.

Third, if you have a young, jacked up dog, your obedience problems can be exacerbated. One partial solution is to wear the dogs out. When my dogs were 3 and I was running in the AA stakes, I would run blinds in the morning before the set up dog ran, run blinds after the setup dog ran, run blinds after the marks, run blinds after the blinds, etc., etc. etc. I found that when I was able to do this (not always possible because of grounds near FT, running numbers, etc.) I found that I MIGHT have a chance of keeping the dogs RELATIVELY mellow. You may think I am exagerating. Let me assure you, I am not.

When I ran the dogs' legs off on blinds, they would still race out after the birds, but be more considered about it. If I didn?t run the blinds, I was doomed. The dogs were just too pumped to be a FT. If they had to sit in the truck and wait, they would be running all over God?s country in the first series. Things got somewhat better last year at age 4, but they still needed the blinds to blow some of the steam out of them.

Last Spring, my two 4 year old littermates each had a win and each needed two points to qualify for the National. So, I pushed hard ... I ran too many trials in a row ... and got nothing. What?s worse, the dogs line manners got worse. One moral - be careful not to run too many trials in a row!

So, Cherylon and I dissected what was going wrong. There were some things that we could not address or did not want to address. Neither Cherylon nor I wanted to take the drive out of the dogs. It is too big a part of what we enjoy about the game. We thought (and this year may tell us so) that age would probably take care of some of the problem.

Then we started to work on me. And we discovered sit did not mean sit to the dogs when I was running them. They knew that the standard was different for me than for Cherylon.

Ok, so what do I mean when I say sit means sit.

It means in training (and of course at a FT) to the dog that:

You don?t get out of the dog box until I say so.
You don?t move after you get out of the dog box until I say so.
When I am walking to the holding blind (and I use a very short lead - a 6" climbing rope with no loop attached to a choke chain, which makes it easy for me to identify surging by the dog - and which can remain on the dog for land marks), you must sit when I stop.

It means that when I call for the birds, ANY movement calls for correction (either 6" lead or stick).

It means when you return with the bird, reposition, and sit, ANY movement without my direction calls for correction.

It means that after you gives me the bird, ANY movement without my direction calls for correction.

The standard is ANY (and I do mean ANY) movement.

When a handler can say that he or she truly honors that standard (in training - there are always some allowances that need to be made at a FT), then Sit means Sit.


My guess is that if you videotape yourself, you will find that sit really does not mean to the dog what you think it means.
 

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Sit means Sit

Ted,
This is the standard Rex-Judy-Farmer approach to line manners. It is why out-of-state judges are amazed at how well behaved our dogs are online. In a typical 60-80 dog open, you MIGHT have to tell 3 handlers to reheel their dogs.

I am learning the hard way these lessons because Zipper was a laid back, steady eddie kinda dog. Wizard is not and you have to make him toe the line. If you watch yourself, the you don't have to watch the dog.
 

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Ted--thank you--I really appreciate this post and I'm sure others will too--EXCELLENT POST!!

I'm printing it out and going to go over it with my training group so that whoever is at the line behind me can watch/evaluate MYcorrections and timing, etc. There's certainly EVERY possiblity that I'm NOT making the dog sit....a TRUE sit......that I am allowing him to do some movement in training no matter how slight and that would most certainly carry over into trialing, especially with this type of dog. Soon as this snow melts some so we can get back out and into fulltime training mode I'm going to implement all of what you posted. As it stands now IF I can gain some ground with this regimen of training he may get to run in late summer, early fall. All I can do is try and he's just too nice a dog to quit on him.

Reo
 

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I've had it both ways... the macho choco dawg was pretty chill and totally accepts that sit means sit. When the macho Crash dawg arrived at the airport at 8 weeks old and i stuck my had through the hole in the crate to pet him for the first time - he bit me and i bled right there on the airport counter... i knew i'd have to take a different approach with this dawg. Steadying started from day one. By 6 months i could walk out 50 yards, toss a mark, then walk back to the line to send him kicking up the dirt. Lee can speak to it better than i can now but he's still a firebreather and doesn't move an inch on the line. Or does he, Lee?

I think the gist of it is to evaluate what you got early on and deal with it then.

Shayne
 

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WONDERFUL WONDERFUL POST TED!!! WOW....awesome....

I KNEW this stuff but it really sinks in for that habitual creeper I have (Bug) who has been known to leave the line on her own between multiple marks.....eesh

Shayne, I don't recognize the dog you are speaking about....Crash has a heeling stick with his name embroidered on it. He's much better than he was when I got him (damn dog acted like no one had ever put a lead on him) but we now see "eye to eye" most times. The wound on his nose (from pushing out of the dog trailer) is healing up nicely after having to slam it on his head 20 times in one training session. Pushy freaking Texan Dog......

Ted, I would like permission to reprint this in the Oregon Retriever Trial Club newsletter that I am typing out (will be out in the mail first week of March) and would be happy to send you a copy of the newsletter.

WRL
 

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I forgot to give props to Ted... that is an awesome post.

Lee... all i can say is he was rock solid steady before peeing on Tricia's shoe. I never said he remained calm on exiting the kennel. He bit Mark Edwards one time when putting him back on the truck... i was certain the lesson he received that day would have stuck with him for awhile... guess not, although i never said he was smart. hehe

Shayne
 

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Ted

I tend to believe that the disregard for the 'sit means sit' command is handler/trainer induced.

In our wonderful world of HT's and FT's, regardless of who's game we're playin', we as humans have a need to get there quickly. Though we go through the OB session of training we are constantly extending the dawg onward at an excellerated pace, either because of rule demands or our ego/dreams. Unfortunately along that road to success, some things suffer, OB may get a little less attention, while we're working on blinds, marks, TT, FF, CC and such, so we can compete.
We buy high energy dawgs, then we attempt to get them higher through training scenarios that included live flyers, gunfire and the like. Our adrenaline flows, the dawgs sense it ,and things start to slide down hill in our quest. The athelete that we've trained our dawg to be takes over, and in the excitement of the moment, his adrealine flows also.

We push our dawgs hard to get into the competition of our egos, at an excellerated rate, that we forget ......BABY STEPS, Baby Steps, baby steps............... IMHODAO... if I may quote our friend Joe S.

Man........I love these dawgs and these games!!!

Polock......the only time the the world beats a path to your door is when you're in the bathroom

:drinking:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One thing that I think I need to reinforce - as Gman and Shayne both alluded to - your approach depends upon the dogs.

My two boyz needed lots of blinds and lots of obediance because they are as Steve Martin would say - "Wild and Crazy Guys."

At the same time when I was running the boyz, I had a 3 year old bitch, with whom I did not run blinds, and did not get on about obediance. She was lower maintenance and was better off left alone at the FT.

So decide what to do depending on your dog.
 

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Excellent post Ted. I had 2 dogs that didn't budge on line. I was spoiled. Then I got 2 dogs that I thought were doing ok but they were lifting their butts and doing tiny little butt scoots. My trainer also noticed it and said don't let them get away with one little scoot. Well, at a trial, that little tiny scoot turns into a hop hop and they are 6 feet in front of you. We now practice even leaving the house to air. Sit means sit.
 

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Know your dog

Exactly right Ted!

Zipper needed to be relaxed and feeling good, especially on watermarks to do well. Other dogs need to be tightened down for their "minds to be in gear". Got to know your dog and what is needed. Perfect example of it this weekend in the Am at Acadiana. Sunday morning, its raining, 50 degrees and the wind is blowing at 25-30 mph. Judges just lick their chops with condictions like that. The dogs have not had a collar on them since Thursday, many of them running Open and Am, so they have seen a few birds. Great waterblind with a re-entry required after a sizeable distance on land. I think only 2 dogs out of the first 15 picked up the duck! Sunday morning is a great time for a little OB with a collar on a dog that builds.

I have also found that as a dog advances in training and the setups get more difficult, there is a great tempation to COMPETE instead of train. Handlers get so involved in doing the tests that they forget about line manners, creeping, movement. Keep your standard.
 

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A guy in my dog club said "a break starts with the first move."

Joe M.
 

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Terrific point, Ted.

Also a good point by Joe M.. I would go a step further and say that a break starts within the framework of the dog?s expectations. That?s why I?m such a fan of ?think drills?. Before reaching that point of maintenance, though, I also start with, and continue to promote, a solid sit standard as part of what any of my dogs come to expect from me.

As a former pro I also recognize how client?s dogs have different expectations of the standards supported by trainers, as compared to those they expect from their owners. In suggesting think drills, my standards are assumed because a solid tripod posture in a single piece of real estate is the only standard I accept. Measures beyond the norm (like think drills) have impact only if I keep that standard alive at all times.

As you pros know only too well, in spite of all the teaching and pleading you may do with your clients, they will do what they will do. Sometimes they listen, learn, and follow direction well. Sometimes they don?t.

Evan
 

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Evan

What do you mean by "think drills?"

Also for anyone, as we try to adhere to the "sit means sit" level of obedience, other factors come into play. This example is easy to illustrate and is where my question arises from. I don?t know how many saw the ESPN retriever show a few weeks ago but it had a very difficult steady situation presented to the dogs and I looked at it and wondered what I would/should expect from my own dog in that situation. The marked retrieve was a double. There was a fairly technical bird (DFT) thrown on the right. Then right away a diversion bird was thrown right by the front of the handler and dog moving right to left about 15 yards in front of the handler. The reactions from the dogs were anything from a simple shift of the front feet to mark the fall to a controlled break stepping out of the box that was the test parameter.

In this example does "sit mean sit?" Is repositioning to mark the fall still sitting?

Being new to all this, I watched that part of the show with as much interest as the retrieves themselves.

Joe M.
 

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Great question, Joe! :D

First, the answer to your very good question would be "yes". Sit means sit. Even if you train your dog to move with you, he moves in response to a cue. That may only be your physical movement - right or left, or stepping up or back on him to communicate your desire for him to move. Many handlers do those things only intending to turn the dog's head to see marks in another direction.

Even if the dog is trained to move, though, he should only pivot while remaining seated on the same spot next to the handler. I've done it both ways. I prefer to be able to move the dog in a tight pivot because of the separation that sometimes exists between marks.

"Think drills". The more I observed that style itself became an obstacle in a dog's performance, the more I would give that dog to think about. Very focused check-down drills, poison bird blinds (even for derby dogs), and even primary selection have been useful in helping the high drive types remain focused on their jobs without taking that wonderful style out of them. Reo also mentioned that she does cold honor blinds; a very simlilar regimen to poison bird blinds, and a wonderful discipline.

There are many other examples of think drills, but I'm sure you can see that the idea is to change the dog's expectations. Instead of always anticipating a one-two-three-GO cadence, you provide something more to think about, or to anticipate happening before they get to go.

Did I describe them well enough?

Evan
 

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Evan, if you are not careful you will start speaking with an Australian accent. I could not agree with you more.

As you know I follow US training methods. But it gives me a headache day after day trying to marry up the major differences with what is required from my Australian dogs in competition. Downunder our dogs HAVE TO HAVE good line manners, otherwise, they have no chance of seeing the marks (they are from silent hidden bird launchers).

What I saw, by observing the prenational training and the national itself was one trial. I cannot wait until I see a weekend FT and a hunt test during my next trip.

But what I did see was wonderful to terrible line manners. During my observation of the prenational training I made notes beside every dog that I was blessed to video and see working. I wrote comments for example like happy tail, needed "use" of heeling stick between marks, great focus, great heeling to line, great memory. The blinds blew my mind with the control of course!!!!! It was interesting going through my notes after the completion of the Amateur national - the dogs percentage wise that had good line manners, were not just the finalists but the dogs that had lasted nearly until the end of the trial.

By having visible gunners in the field surely that encourages bad line manners and head swinging. Or for that matter duck calls etc in hunt tests.

I was told many times that line manners or for that matter delivery of birds is not really considered in competition, the dogs work in the field is.
So that is the standard. Therefore the dogs are taught by THE RULES - ours and the judges.

Also in Australia dogs do not see where the birds fall in our competitions. They see the bird in the skyline but that is all. I really enjoyed your comment about mixing up training/selection. Sorry to repeat this information but also in higher stakes the dogs will have to pick up the blind before getting the "skyline only sighted" marks in the same series (run).

Nothing turns me on more than a dog, obeying at the line to leave the marks and go for a blind, then picking up those marks like there were neon signs on them.
 

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Evan

Yes, you explained it perfectly.


Evan said:
First, the answer to your very good question would be "yes". Sit means sit. Even if you train your dog to move with you, he moves in response to a cue. That may only be your physical movement - right or left, or stepping up or back on him to communicate your desire for him to move. Many handlers do those things only intending to turn the dog's head to see marks in another direction.

Even if the dog is trained to move, though, he should only pivot while remaining seated on the same spot next to the handler. I've done it both ways. I prefer to be able to move the dog in a tight pivot because of the separation that sometimes exists between marks.
Essentially, taking initial alignment drills for heeling and handling and putting an additional component of responding to subtle handler movement only. Allowing pivot within that parameter only and holding to the strict standard. Sit still means sit.

Evan said:
"Think drills". The more I observed that style itself became an obstacle in a dog's performance, the more I would give that dog to think about. Very focused check-down drills, poison bird blinds (even for derby dogs), and even primary selection have been useful in helping the high drive types remain focused on their jobs without taking that wonderful style out of them. Reo also mentioned that she does cold honor blinds; a very simlilar regimen to poison bird blinds, and a wonderful discipline.

There are many other examples of think drills, but I'm sure you can see that the idea is to change the dog's expectations. Instead of always anticipating a one-two-three-GO cadence, you provide something more to think about, or to anticipate happening before they get to go.


To make sure that I have it clear. An additional example of a "think drill" would be, much as primary selection, throw a mark, pause, turn and run a blind. Change the expectation.

Thank You

Joe M.



Ted

Excellent initial post and subject
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Joe

In many respects, "sit" is simply a synonym for "control." When you enforce sit, you are enforcing control.

Another means of enforcing control is to make sure not only that the dog does not move its feet without your permission, but also that the dog does not move its head without your permission.

For example, suppose you are running a triple. The first bird is thrown. Before it hits the ground, the dog swings its head. You could say "sit" and stick the dog. You could simply send the dog for the first bird (and correct if he does not run straight and true to the bird, then start the sequence over). You could wait until the dog's head returns to the first bird. You could do any of those things before calling for the second bird. Or you could simply call for the second bird. If you simply call for the second bird, you are teaching the dog that he can control the tempo of the birds. If you do one of the others, you are telling the dog that he needs to be more attentive to you and that he cannot swing off until you allow him to.

Ted
 

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Will ya'll "dummy" this up for me? I hear several references to the stick, but, unless I am wrong about some of you, all of you are collar folks. I assume during training all have a collar on, so why dont you nick instead of correct with the stick?
And, if you dont mind, take this a step further with more "sit" infractions at the line. Do you just tap with the stick as a reminder, is it a whack on the first infraction, as it is a known command by this time in the scheme of things? It seems that with a collar it would be easier to "ramp up" the correction to "meet the crime" so to speak.
Also, I cannot agree more with Joe regarding that the break is a "process" and not an "event", by beginning at the first movement by the dog. With that in mind, every dog I have seen will lower their head before their front feet leave the ground from sit, to STRETCH out and push with the rears as they grab their first piece of sod with the front feet. When I run both my dogs from heel, one heels left, one right, the honor dog will lower its head when the go dog leaves on its name. To back up a hair, I inherited the second dog and HAD to change his name. My bitches name is Gracie, and his name was Ace. He HEARD his name when I ran Gracie first because of my southern accent. His name is now Eli (E-lie). That change was enough to sort out ANY confusion for either dog. So, that in mind, does the lowering of the head by the honor dog merit a correction, and by what means and to what degree would the correction best suit the scenario, collar, stick, *grinnin* clicker?

Blast-great thread by the way, all who have posted please respond with correction method and psychology of why you would choose this method and of course subsequent corrections. Everyone is welcomed to respond of course I would like to hear of the logic behind your correction.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Blast

First, the collar is only one tool. Other tools are lead, stick, and voice. Just because you use a collar, doesn't mean you abandon others.

Second, my view is that dogs violate sit in many ways, not just the way you decribe. Some dogs dance, tapping their front paws and raising their butt. Others lower head, crouch and raise butt.

Third, my standard is butt planted on ground, front paws planted too. I will make exception if test is wide open and I must make the dog travel through a long arc - for example one bird is at 9 o clock and another at 3 o clock. But in such instance, I will either be moving into the dog or moving away from the dog - cueing him, telling him I want him to move with me.

Fourth, the correction depends on nature of infraction (is it just a twitch, is the first time I have seen the behavior, what happened yesterday). When I come to the line, assume dog on left (I have two sided dogs), short rope lead in left hand, stick and collar in right. I will jerk on lead if forward movement of paws or crouch with butt lifted (typically on marks as they fall). In contrast, if after returning with a bird, the dog moves forward after giving me the bird, I will stick him across the chest because I find stick on butt tends to drive a moving dog forward. I may also nick for latter.

Big moment (or repeated little ones) may merit stick and collar.

Remember don't nag if you want this to mean anything. You come to the line, dog gets positioned, you say sit. Don't say sit (sit, sit, sit, sit, sit)along the way. If dog violates standard, then you say sit with appropriate correction.

Ted
 

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:flasingsmile: Like our friend, Peake, I enjoy threads about training more than any others! This one has been great.

I?m in such complete agreement with Ted that I only have a couple of things to add in answering your question. The degree of correction is something I temper with how I read the dog, along with how I read the degree of infraction. It?s a balance with each dog because each one tolerates a slightly different degree of discipline while operating at optimal levels. Some dogs, when the standard is too strictly enforced, don?t mark quite as well, for example.

When you see a behavior in a dog that you associate with breaking, you are seeing a symptom of it. (2. sign of something else: a sign or indication of the existence of something, especially something undesirable ? Encarta online dictionary) The cause of the outward behavior began before the symptom became visible. It?s the thought process, which is governed by what the dog has come to expect or anticipate. Part of what we are all talking about here is the ?sit? standard our dogs expect to live with. Sometimes that is a different standard, depending on who is running the dog.

Evan
 
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