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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, forgive me a bit as I am a UK trainer, but I am interested in how you guys train and run blinds. Always looking to learn more and take on board fresh ideas.

I had a look at setting up some blinds along the lines shown in this diagram: (drat, can't post link as not allowed to yet, but it was on retrieversonline - favourite setups, where the blinds were set out at approx 220 metres) but at a rather reduced scale. ie. Long blinds were at 120 metres max, thru long grass, as I just don't have the space to lay out much more.

Question: when you set this scenario up, do you expect the dog to run all the way to the long blind on that initial cast/sendaway, or are you stopping and correcting any line deviation, or re-starting the sendaway to get there in one? What is expected in the USA?

Here, 200+ metres would be an exceptionally long 'open' retrieve and the norm would be more at the 80-150 metre mark.

Just curious really. I expect my dogs to take and hold that initial line and go straight to the area, without having to stop and re-direct though.
 

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Well, in a perfect world, a handler would line his/her dog up, send it, and the dog would take a perfectly straight line to the blind location, ignoring all factors and suction along the way. That would be "lining the blind". However, most of the time we are faced with less than a perfect situation, as dogs will be dogs and they will succumb to factors and suction along the way that will cause them to deviate from the perfect line. Hence, most of the time, we are stopping the dog and handling it enroute to the blind.

We always expect the dogs to take and hold the initial line, but they frequently do not do that..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Mike, so what do you do about it in training? Do you bring the dog back and start again, or just handle on? If my dog doesn't take the right line on the initial sendaway, or starts to deviate off course (by what you call 'suction') then I usually vocally correct it once it is a way off the line (so it knows) and then have it back and start again. I am just interested in what is possible for your dogs, and how you deal with it.
 

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Thanks Mike, so what do you do about it in training? Do you bring the dog back and start again, or just handle on? If my dog doesn't take the right line on the initial sendaway, or starts to deviate off course (by what you call 'suction') then I usually vocally correct it once it is a way off the line (so it knows) and then have it back and start again. I am just interested in what is possible for your dogs, and how you deal with it.
There are different schools of thought...

I will recall (bring back to start again) the dog only for very poor initial line. Once the dog is on his way with a good initial line, I will stop for deviations (regardless of the reason for the deviation. i.e. wind fade, climb a hill, suction of a poison bird, etc.) from the line and handle (cast) with no correction. I will generally correct only for a cast refusal.

Too many recalls takes the "try" out of the dog. You'll need that "try" when the dog faces a really tough marking scenario. Some dogs may need a little of the "try" taken out, so it is very dependent on the type dog you have.

The handle, as soon as I read the dog is giving in to a factor, teaches the dog to fight the factor. Handling at the moment the dog makes the decision to give in increase the chance the dog will understand why he was stopped.

The correction I give for a cast refusal is typically a nick from the ecollar but it varies. It is always indirect pressure.
So correction could be:
toot-"NO"-cast (verbal only)

toot-nick-cast,
toot-"here"-toot-cast (recall just to the spot where the dog took wrong cast)
toot-"here"+burn-toot-cast (recall just to the spot where the dog took wrong cast) This is really direct pressure on "here" I guess, but not on the cast.

Younger dogs may get a second toot after the nick or after the "NO" to improve stability. As in toot-nick-toot, or toot-"NO"-toot

nick = a short duration stimulation from the ecollar (press and release)
burn = a stimulation from the ecollar longer than a nick (hold for a full second or two)

edit: Also US blinds (in competition) are run to the bird rather than to the area of the bird. If the dog goes into a hunt at the end, you would likely be failed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
edit: Also US blinds (in competition) are run to the bird rather than to the area of the bird. If the dog goes into a hunt at the end, you would likely be failed.
OMG, you fail dogs for hunting and using their noses to find the 'bird' in USA?!!! Now, that's bizarre!!! LOL

Not going to go there with any comment or discussion on that, as I think we are playing very different games, so I am only interested in the synergies really in running the line and what the different approaches are to that.

We don't use the E-collar at all here, so all that 'nick' and 'burn' stuff is a bit lost in translation!

I guess I train differently in that if the dog starts to go off line it has effectively gone wrong, or challenged that initial command, so I don't usually handle on. I would rather get there in a single cast (what you call sendaway), and this is what wins tests/trials here, straight to the area.

I understand your point that that may take a bit of drive from the dog though, although it doesn't really seem to be the case here. Maybe we overcome this by getting the dogs confident with memory blinds.

Interesting to hear different methods though.
 

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Our blinds are about showing handlers control over dog so dogs job is to go where we tell them. We set traps with scented areas where a dog that resists following our direction will fail.


Here are a few examples of dogs running blinds at our National Championships so you can see how it's done.

1)
This link takes you to a 240 yard Water Blind test.
First read the description and click on the PDF link "Drawing of the test area". Note on the drawing where it says "Gunner for Dry Shot".
Next click on the video link for dog #55. FC-AFC Rammin Hot Chili handled by Randy who posts on this forum.
The initial send for dog #55 is not shown and the video picks up as the dog swims past the "Gunner for Dry Shot" and skims past an island, gets on a point of land and continues up on land to the bird without any cast. This is a very good water blind. Randy does blow the whistle and stop her when she is right on top of the bird which is normal and prudent here.

Link to 2005 National event day 2:
http://www.akc.org/events/field_trials/retrievers/narc/2005/monday.cfm

Dog #55 Video:
http://www.akc.org/videos/events/field_trials/retrievers/narc/2005/mon/55.swf


more to come......



At the same link above now watch the video for dog #52.
http://www.akc.org/videos/events/field_trials/retrievers/narc/2005/mon/52.swf
This video shows how we line up and give the dog an initial cast. This dog requires 2 additional stops and casts to get into the water at an acceptable spot . Not that the dry pop gunner is not visable to the dog. This video ends at the spot where dog #55’s picked up.
 

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PS
Blinds here in the US are setup so a dog is unlikely to get there on a single cast. At any given event maybe 1 dog in 50 will "Line" the blind without any help after the initial send but it is the exception.
Generally speaking, in our training if the dog deviates from the path between point A and point B we will stop and handle them back onto the line we want. If dog scallops or deviates back in the wrong direction the next stop may be followed by a correction (nick) then another cast. If the dog continues to be uncooperative it may be subject to further consequences.
 

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I would love to run your field trials, I think my first dog would have been good at them, not too sure about my recent dogs though. Our sport have evolved way beyond actual hunting scenarios and has become quite extreme, though a well trained field trial dog makes an excellent hunter. To be competitive in field trials requires a dog that is very balanced. We ask them to use their head and own initiative to find birds in the marking series, then turn total control over to the handler on blinds. The blind you describe where we handle to an area where the dog could scent the bird and hunt it up on it's own is typical for the way we actually hunt, but would be a complete failure in a field trial where Judges puposely scent areas to throw dogs off the line to the bird.

Like you said, two very different games.

John
 

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Here is an example of our land blinds from another National Championship.
This test is a combination of two blinds where dog first runs a 350 yard land blind then a 275 yard water blind.
http://www.akc.org/events/field_trials/retrievers/narc/2007/sunday.cfm
Click on the test drawing than watch the video for dog #29 running the land blind.
http://www.akc.org/videos/events/field_trials/retrievers/narc/2007/sunday_29.swf
This is AFC Lars Harmony N' Blues handled by our friend Bob Larsen who sadly passed away.

Note that this land blind is run through sage brush and this dog is from a part of the country that has no sage brush making it a bit more difficult I would think.
Also note that over here we do not use the Spaniel type whistles like you do over there.
 

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And here is a dog running a land blind from a different National Championship.
This land blind is about 225 yards long and is run between two marked retrieves the dogs had retrieved earlier.

The test drawing showing marks and the blind:
http://www.akc.org/events/field_tri...=lg_0166.jpg&caption=Drawing of the test area

The video or dog running blind:
http://www.akc.org/videos/events/field_trials/retrievers/nrc/2004/test1_3.swf


And one more land blind run by Charlie Hays which is pretty good.
http://www.akc.org/videos/events/field_trials/retrievers/nrc/2005/sun_13.swf


If you watch the videos I posted plus others at the same website you should get a good idea what expect of our dogs on blinds.
You can also check out the marking tests from the national events. Most of them are rather difficult.
 

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trying to stay with your original question;

in training, if the dog deviates from the initial line given within 50-60 feet, i will call them back and re-send. other than that, i handle the dog back to the line to the bird and continue as needed to the end of the blind.-Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Breck - Yes, I am aware of the set up in US and the differences thanks. The clips you show are pretty similar to some of our Open level working tests, but at distances that are greater. Our maximum distances in working tests are usually about 200m, although the odd one is further, but sometimes they can be much less, as distance isn't the ultimate goal for us.
What strikes me particularly in the 2004 clip http://www.akc.org/events/field_tria...007/sunday.cfm was the lack of pace in the dog's initial outrun. It moves away quite slowly and has to be re-cast very soon, and then multiply re-cast (which is somewhat understandable given the greater distance). This would be marked down in our tests. I think we probably handle a lot less.
John R - yes, your sport has well and truly evolved and moved away from true hunting scenarios, and somewhat lacks realism, but has become a 'sport' in its own right. Horses for courses! There are worries here that we may one day follow suit, but hopefully not. We want dogs to use their heads and initiative (and 'nose') on all retrieves, be it blind or mark, but also remain perfectly obedient and controllable - a fairly tall ask I guess, to get that ideal balance! (and all without the use of an electric collar)
The name of the game in the UK is quite literally 'game finding' and this is put first and foremost, as this is what we have dogs for, to put game in the bag. So, the idea of setting 'traps' would be totally anethema to us, and very frowned upon. Yes, we have diversions (poison birds - to prove control), but we don't set things up to purposefully try to catch the dog out and wrong foot it for using it's nose. This would be taking away the natural ability of the dog (for us).
We're playing two different (but similar!) games, and I definitely don't want to get into a fight over what is best, as I realise that I would be totally the loser, and in a minority of one!!! LOL I can accept the differences.
Thanks for accommodating me and enlightening me. I hope we have bits and pieces to learn from each other...
 

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Whether to recall and resend really depends on the experience of the dog and his confidence in momentum.

With a young dog just starting cold blinds I would never call back and resend but just handle. With the young dog momentum is more important than precision. With the young dog I would not insist on keeping "tight" to the line but only insist on stopping when commanded and changing direction with the cast. You might put out 3 long blinds and if he picks the wrong one its no big deal as long as he was stopping and working with you to change direction.

As he gets more experience you add more difficulty and tighten your standard for holding the line. You will stop and cast him sooner before he gets as far off line. If he takes a poor initial line you might immediately stop him and call him back. When you call him back you are telling him the direction he went was wrong and to go somewhere else. Thats why its usually not good to call back in after he's done the initial part right and made a mistake further out. In the dogs mind its telling him that everything he did to that point was wrong. This practice might create poor momemtum and problems like popping. Before you start calling back its probably best to condition the dog with a "no no" drill like wagon wheel lining which makes them more comfortable with calling back and resending.

An advanced dog will get not only distance but extreme factors to pull him off line in the form of poison birds,wind,terrain , and shorelines. The line you keep him on will be much tighter and the requirement for accurate casts much more precise. This precision requires very precisely timed corrections....thats why the e-collar works so well for this type of work.

So the question of recalling or just casting depends.....its like many other aspects of advanced training. It depends on the dogs experience, his underlying temperament, his momentum, etc.

Hope this makes sense,

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Paul - just playing 'devils advocate' why 50-60 feet? What is the difference between challenging the line at 60 feet (that's less than 20 metres, right?) and challenging the line at 120 feet? Not being cocky, just interested in why you set that as your boundary? Surely, if you set the bar a bit higher you would get a dog that was better at taking and holding the line?

Like I say, I would hope that my dogs would take and hold a good line at a good pace, over a variety of terrain for at least 100m or so, before either 'popping' or deviating.
 

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We may want to clarify what "holding a good line" means.

Our advanced dogs are expected to hold a line within a corridor of roughly 5 - 10 yards, depending upon the nature of the obstacles. At 300 yards out, that is a matter of a few degrees! If we simply send the dog in the proper direction and let him hunt it up on his own, we will fail the test for not challenging the line.

Sending the dog out in the general direction and allowing them to wander off course 20 degrees, hunting it up on their own, is not really the control we are looking for. That is why you see more whistles/casts than you are used to. If you were standing behind the handler, you would probably wonder why he/she is stopping the dog so much!

In real hunting, our practice would be more similar to yours ... let them get out there and get the bird and bring it back. In a field trial however, we would end up with all the dogs tied. Not much demonstration of control.:razz:

BTW, in competition, calling back after the initial send is prohibited. That is strictly a training exercise.

JS
 

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Kennel maiden said: "What strikes me particularly in the 2004 clip http://www.akc.org/events/field_tria...007/sunday.cfm was the lack of pace in the dog's initial outrun. It moves away quite slowly and has to be re-cast very soon, and then multiply re-cast (which is somewhat understandable given the greater distance). This would be marked down in our tests. I think we probably handle a lot less."

Right, I mentioned in my original post that this dog was not very experienced running in sage brush. The dog was from the east coast and the event was out west. Likely one reason for the slow go. Not a big deal. Also, if you notice, from the dogs point of view they were looking out over a vast expanse to a mountain a mile away and could not see where they would actually be running until they crossed the road. 2 bits of difficulty.


Kennel maiden said: "Like I say, I would hope that my dogs would take and hold a good line at a good pace, over a variety of terrain for at least 100m or so, before either 'popping' or deviating."

Curious ? if you draw a straight line on one of your field trial blinds in the UK, approx how many yards deviation to one side or the other of that line can the dog get before you would stop and handle?

Also, if your dog is 'popping' frequently you want to analyse what you're doing to determine the cause of the pops and revise your training.
 

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Is this the drill you saw on RetrieversOnline?


There is a lot going on here. Basically you are asking the dog to "line" or pass very close by different "objects" ( Hay bales & a chair) and you are giving the dog a repeated look at a similar "picture" (like running between two specific trees 100 yards away). Plus, doing the drill with a cross wind makes it a bit more difficult for dogs to stay on line as they tend to fade with the wind.
Items 1 and 3 are for training purposes only (not used in tests) and here are designed to keep the dog from anticipating what's coming next in the drill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Breck - when we run our dogs to a given area in a working test or field trial they need to be within a 'reasonable' distance of the fall, otherwise they are considered 'out of area' and disturbing game, and would be heavily penalised. So, I would say 10-15 yrds of a given point. ie. judge says 'at that tree'... But life is not so cut and dried in a field trial, which is a live shooting scenario. The judge may say that the gun has told him he has a bird down 'in the area of that tree'. In which case, it is not necessarily pinned to that tree. You would send to the tree area and the work your dog around that area, again within a reasonable distance (20-30m total?). If he makes nothing of it, you may move the dog a bit and let it 'open up' its hunt. And, of course, the bird could be a runner and have moved on....

So, in terms of keeping them on a line. We look at it as a bit of a 'corridor' to that point (look through a toilet roll tube sort of thing, and see what you can see!). Obviously the width of that 'corridor' will vary with terrain, and an area of woodland or heavy cover you are going to need to keep the dog much tighter to stay in vision, whereas on flat grazed ground you have a bit more lee-way. But I guess the corridor might be 5 - 15m wide depending on the distance?

I knew if I mentioned 'popping' you would be down on me like a tonne of bricks!!! ;-) :D and was going to avoid that term (actually it is not a term even known or really used in the UK). Thanks, but my dog isn't popping frequently, so I don't have any concerns there. What I was trying to say is that eventually the dog will inevitably break the line, or may check back to see if it has gone too far, if you are going huge distances in one cast. No dog is going to continue to 'infinity and beyond' whatever your training method! LOL. Your dogs won't get to do that (popping), I guess, because you are continuous 'bouncing' them back along the corridor. So, that masks any drying up of the line perhaps?

JS - likewise, same in UK Test or Trial, you only get one chance to get it right! No, starting again! So, that is why it is so important to get it right first time, and have a dog that takes and holds a good line. "Sending the dog out in the general direction and allowing them to wander off course 20 degrees, hunting it up on their own, is not really the control we are looking for." and EXACTLY the same in the UK. Totally not acceptable.

Young vs experienced dogs in training - yes, totally agree. Similar methods here. We are more lenient on the line the dog takes if we are working at building its distance. And will even 'seed' a greater area at the required distance so that when the dog gets out there it is successful. Later on, we are more precise on line. Also, we build precision into lining by doing lots of memory marks/blinds to rehearse lining.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Breck - yup, that's the one. I had a play with it today as a training exercise. For me, working on long lines and also on casting. Like I said, I shortened it up, as where I wanted to run it I only had 120 metres to play with. So, it was a small scale!!! And there were no chairs, trees, hay bales or roads involved! So, greatly simplified.

In this respect, on my VERY scaled down and simplified version I was expecting the dogs (one 2 yr old and one 15 month old) to run straight to the long blinds in a single cast, as there was nothing too difficult to pull them off course. I actually had most difficulty with the stupid first lefthand cast!!! So, this is something we need to go back and work on. True casting, strongly and on the first command...

I like all the diagrams and drills you guys have. We are just completely lacking in that respect here, and are probably not nearly disciplined enough with how we teach our dogs. There is no such thing as a "program". Folk visit trainers, join groups, buy a book or two, and fumble their way along!
 

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Paul - just playing 'devils advocate' why 50-60 feet? What is the difference between challenging the line at 60 feet (that's less than 20 metres, right?) and challenging the line at 120 feet? Not being cocky, just interested in why you set that as your boundary? Surely, if you set the bar a bit higher you would get a dog that was better at taking and holding the line?

Like I say, I would hope that my dogs would take and hold a good line at a good pace, over a variety of terrain for at least 100m or so, before either 'popping' or deviating.
recall is a kind of correction. as has already been said, a dog that has ben recalled probably thinks everything it has done up to that point was wrong.

in our blinds, the amount of precision required for a good score in a HT or a placement in a trial is extreme in the advanced stakes. blinds are generally broken down into 3 segments by the judges, those being the beginning, middle and end.

if in training i think the dog has failed the beginning of the blind, i recall and resend. i make that determination at the distance i mentioned in my first post. i want the dog to understand what the task really is. please remember we are talking about 1 to 1.5 degrees of difference on either side of the true line in order to stay within the corridor Breck mentioned.-Paul
 
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