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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are planning to enter a CKC WCI test in a couple months. Its pretty basic, a land double (75 yards), a water double (50 yards), and a honour. Could sombody offer up a few pointers on training for the honouring? Unfortunately I train alone 99.7% of the time.
 

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Try and get some group sessions in. You can make it work if you have two dogs.
 

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If you train alone, it will be pretty tough. I'm a newbie to all this, so I am sure there are some guys who can give you better advice... but here is what I would do:

Toss out a bumper with your dog at heel, have your dog sit, and then walk out and get the bumper yourself while the dog sits. Correct the dog if she moves (and replace the dog to the original position) and then continue to walk out and get the bumper. Start small, and eventually move out. Once she is trustworthy on this, begin to throw bumpers while she is in a remote sit and then go get them yourself as well. Be sure to reward her obedience with some retrieves, and do not give her a retrieve if she does not sit through you picking up the bumper and returning.

To be honest, we do honor work at the end of every training session. Multiple dogs stand by handlers as well all throw bumpers, and we send one dog at a time. Inexperienced dogs are placed on lead until their turn to retriever, and eventually the lead comes off. After doing this for several months, I am confident my dog won't break on an honor. Training with others will be extremely helpful, if not necessary.
 

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Newf, I'm just crawling out of my hole to talk dogs for a minute. Hope you don't mind my rambling on your thread. The training alone topics are always interesting to me. Been there...

I believe, with most dogs, the main stress of honoring is being denied the retrieve. That said, watching another dog is an added aspect for sure. Any good dog wants to get them all. You can develop the expectation of not retrieving every mark, by not retrieving every mark... :)

My methods would differ from the previous post. If I throw a bumper that is not to be retrieved, I don't walk out and get it, in front of the dog. Reason being, I use that (or the gun picking it up and re-throwing) as a correction for line issues. ie., vocal/creep. You might even say "good sit", then heel to another spot in the field and throw/send. May want to intro a verbal cue for honoring. "no-bird" etc. My hope would be that the dog eventually understands that a non-sit at the line = no bird, while at the same time accepting the fact that they're not all his, and thats ok.

With just 2 wingers side by side, you can run a single/honor. Retrieve the first, then move to the honor mat/bucket. Cue/throw/heel dog off line.

One time, I simulated a cold honor walk-up by throwing a dirt clod. When we ran that mark after a seperate double, it was funny to see him looking around for the other bird with one in his mouth. I would advise using some of your .3% group training time for that one..
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input folks.

finding other people to work with has proven to be very difficult for me so I have some work ahead of me.

During a honor situation at at test can a handler command sit/heel more than once? does the dog need to remain silent?
 

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I kept my girl steady during honor yesterday, she was ready to jump out of her skin! I continually, as soft as I could, said, "Sit", "Sit, "Sit" for what felt like an eternity. Whatever you do, train it as much as you can and around as many other dogs, people that you can, in the most exciting environment you can create!
 

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Do you know some else that has a dog that is decent at playing fetch? it doesnt have to be pretty on the other dogs end, just enough that your dog learns whats expected. Drive along any park or beach front that has water and you'll find someone throwing sticks for their dog, stop and ask for their assistance, you might make a friend that'll end up interested in Retrievers.
 

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So far the best thing I've done to teach my dog to honor reliably is to get a second dog, LOL. Now they both sit at heel and only go when I call their name, and we don't always stick to taking turns, either. The one who is the most calm gets to go. Huge difference.
 

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It's challenging to teach an honor without another working dog, especially on water, the natural tendency is to want to retrieve, which you don't want to discourage or send mixed messages about, but this is a control situation. You can practice by giving your pup different cues, verbal (No Bird), placing pup in a down, stand or sit next to pup in an alternative stance than you would normally for a Retrieve and reinforce sit/stay/down.
Train with a holding blind if you can, go to the line, put down the marks and send. Move off line and take the Honor position, cue pup with No Bird, sit/stay or down. If you have a helper, throw a single dink mark or toss one yourself, cue No Bird, wait count of 10 (you may need light restraint on pup and reinforce sit/stay/down quietly). Heel dog off Honor position AWAY from mark. Go back to holding blind or return dog to truck and remove the single mark. You can work on the steadiness by gradually lengthening your count while in the honor position before you heel off away from the single mark, eventually add another Mark as a No Bird and repeat the sequence. Pup must learn not every Mark is his. Praise the compliance of the command pup knows (sit/stay, down)
My dog, always enthusiastic to retrieve, was taught after her time to work, was time for no work. She will generally go into an automatic down for an honor now. I cued her with No Bird, Down/stay quietly reinforcing STAY. She got leash and/or collar correction for movement on the STAY.
 

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Here are a few ideas to think about. They've helped my dogs.

The key to honoring and being steady is to work at getting the dog to work with you (be responsive) and thinking "I'm available when you need me." A "glassy-eyed" dog at the line that has tuned his handler out is a poor candidate for honoring.

Another way to describe this approach is develop specific "momentum reducing cues" that the dog understands. There is no question having other dogs to honor and train with is better, but there are effective ways to compensate.

Embrace the idea that honoring demonstrates responsiveness and control. Ingrain in the dog that 1) "ready/set/go" is not the norm and 2) you are in control of when any retrieve is to take place.

Do "in your face", exciting marks that are tempting and work on responsiveness at the same time ("up the ante"). For example, delay retrieves for extended periods or run a cold blind first before picking up a mark (poison bird). Remote sit marks with delayed releases are useful. Have the dog sit remotely (in front of a holding blind with you behind), then call the dog to heel off to the side and send.

Another proactive technique is to have a cue in place that informs the dog.......when it's not his. "No bird" can be very clear if you just go out and pick up the duck. Switching heeling positions along with a "no bird" whisper is an effective cue routine.

Of course, the best foundation for all of this is a solid sit. It's such a simple concept........but "solid" can be "oh so elusive". ;)

I have four dogs and they honor each other often. However, all the ideas suggested above are integrated into their training and make a difference.
 
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