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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a picture from the 2021 NRC 1st series to use an example. These birds were both throw left to right.

However, let's pretend the long bird was thrown right to left and let's pretend we are training. And you send your dog and she takes off on a nice initial line, as she comes out of the valley she "squares" the hill on the way up putting her heading towards the right side (backside) of the gunners.

How do you like to handle this in a training scenario? If you noticed a pattern in a dog to square a hill side on marks (and therefore putting her in a bad spot)...what would you do to work on it to teach them to not square/drive the hill?

Sky Shoe Vertebrate People in nature Tree
 

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Silent throw a second bird/bumper while the dog is enroute just as it starts up the hill. Over time, less help. Use just an arm throwing motion. Also, set it up at first with a helpful right to left crosswind, then downwind, and finally make them fight a left to right crosswind.
If you wanted to fully challenge the dog, find a place where the dog has to swim across a small body of water at the base of the hill, and then fight that crosswind.. ;)
 

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Practice. Squaring a hill is a physical issue. In order to take a straight line angling up a hill, the stride on one
side of the dog is interrupted by slightly by a higher surface (shorter) while the next stride on the other side
"strides" longer. The effect is to cause a dog to square it. The following YouTube reveals the initial effects of
squaring a "fall".



If the dog has a visible target (the white pole or visible pile) a dog will tend to mentally compensate (with practice)
for the factor. Therefore, if a dog marks well (knows where the fall is.....white pole or bumpers) physical and mental
conditioned responses will result in moving directly to the "fall" (in theory).

Put yourself in the same situation. Why can you walk up a hill at an angle in a straight line? If you will notice, your strides
are different with each leg......and you will not even think about it.......because you know where you are going. Muscle
memory is cool (conditioned responses). Precise practice is productive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Practice. Squaring a hill is a physical issue. In order to take a straight line angling up a hill, the stride on one
side of the dog is interrupted by slightly by a higher surface (shorter) while the next stride on the other side
"strides" longer. The effect is to cause a dog to square it. The following YouTube reveals the initial effects of
squaring a "fall".



If the dog has a visible target (the white pole or visible pile) a dog will tend to mentally compensate (with practice)
for the factor. Therefore, if a dog marks well (knows where the fall is.....white pole or bumpers) physical and mental
conditioned responses will result in moving directly to the "fall" (in theory).

Put yourself in the same situation. Why can you walk up a hill at an angle in a straight line? If you will notice, your strides
are different with each leg......and you will not even think about it.......because you know where you are going. Muscle
memory is cool (conditioned responses). Precise practice is productive.
I understand the challenge of walking/running on a hillside for dogs and people a like. And I think drills like that can be valuable. But I don't think it's the "cure-all" for disciplined marks. If you start to see a trend that your dog is squaring hills on marks, then that drill might be a good place to start. But I feel like you have to address it in the field as well.

A long memory bird (250+ yards) with a gunner that is retired (or even a gunner that goes out of sight as the dog dips down in the "valley") and then the dog has to angle the hillside and not "drive" or "square" up the hillside (even slightly) can be a challenge. In my experience, some dogs have a tendency to drive up a hill moreso than others.

I personally like to run similar marks that all require the dog not to drive the hill. Or maybe I will run 3 peat blinds thru a valley and make the dog continue on an angle. I try not to setup marks and blinds that the dog needs to square a hill.
 

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If you start to see a trend that your dog is squaring hills on marks, then that drill might be a good place to start.
Would it not be proactive to realize that may happen and prepare for it ahead of time....
instead of having to correct a "trend"? Negative conditioned responses are often difficult
to get rid of. Early on (when I first started training) one of the best and simplest approaches
was to avoid mistakes. Early on I also found out that it was necessary to know what a
mistake looked like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Would it not be proactive to realize that may happen and prepare for it ahead of time....
instead of having to correct a "trend"? Negative conditioned responses are often difficult
to get rid of. Early on (when I first started training) one of the best and simplest approaches
was to avoid mistakes. Early on I also found out that it was necessary to know what a
mistake looked like.
I hear what you’re saying and you are correct, of course we should be proactive and train to stay on a side hill. But I don’t think it’s always that simple. I wish it was.

And in NO way am I suggesting a collar correction for squaring.

But sometimes failing the factor still happens. It’s tempting for a dog to drive up a hill. No matter how many drills you have run. That’s why you see marks like that.
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But I see some of the best FT dogs in the country sometimes square or drive up a hill.

my point is, it happens. And those dogs have been schooled to not do that. But again, it happens.

so was it a one time deal for that dog? What did you do? would you handle to keep them down and show them the way? Or let them go up and figure it out on their own?
would you repeat that mark right there? Or just wait and do setup a similar setup tomorrow or next week to see to “watch” and see if it’s a “thing” or it seemed to just be that mark on that day.
 

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Having steep terrain to train on is a great asset. The concept is exaggerated and the dogs have to put a conscious effort into holding a hill side. Start with standout guns that a dog does not lose sight of in route.
 
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