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Thread: Working on blinds

  1. #1
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    Default Working on blinds

    Good morning Juli. Can you give us a bit of base info on your dog that you were doing the lining drills with? How old? Collar conditioned? Force fetched? How advanced is he in doing blind work?
    For everybody, Juli and I have not talked about these items specifically, but I did ask if I could quiz her about training. I do not want to put her on the spot, or have this interpreted as finding fault. I am sure she has some good answers that might shed some light on more advanced training.
    In Richie's thread you described a lining drill in which you added obstacles. You said, "....If he had trouble then I repeated from that location until he was jumping over the obstacle and lining the blind ..(or moved up, if it took more than 2 times of handling him over the obstacle)...."
    Why did you choose to repeat the drill from the same spot when a failure had occurred? It sounds as if there were times you had more than 2 failures you moved forward, but I am wondering why you re-ran the drill from the same spot? Did you correct him? If so, how?
    On day two, you said the following occurred; "...
    I moved back to about halfway and repeated..He needed to be cast as I anticipated..but on the subsequent send he lined each one,..."
    If you were anticipating a failure, why did choose to go to that point and run the blind? What was your goal? When the dog failed, what was your reaction?
    Is there anything else you can tell us that I missed? If you were trying to teach a new handler what you did right or wrong, what would you tell them? If you gave yourself a grade from A to F, how did you do. Not the dog, just you.

    As an aside:
    When I work with dogs there are 3 things I do, or try to do. I'll list them with a percentage of what I try to do to get to the end.
    Teach- 80%- I show the dog what I want. We break down concepts to the most basic levels, and build on each one. The goal is to not correct the dog, though corrections may be necessary.
    Train- 15%- The concept has been taught, the dog knows it, or we sure think the dog knows it. We run the dog on anything from large aspects of the concept to the whole thing. Most often the training is done on the same area we have been teaching. We plan to correct. If/when the dog fails, we correct the dog to enforce the previous teaching.
    Test- 5%- Testing is running the whole concept cold. We want to see if the training "stuck". Does the dog get it? Will the dog complete the task as trained? If not, where does the failure occur? The test might be run on a concept in a new training area, one that the dog has not seen before.

    Percentages are just a visual on what I feel the focus for a trainer should be. If you get into training too much, too early, you will find that corrections are happening too often.
    Working with dogs takes a constant evaluation of what has happened, how it happened, the successes, and the failures. A trainer needs to be quick witted, fast on their feet, and able to adapt to changing inputs from the dog.

    As for Juli, I am not insinuating she did something wrong. I am only asking questions for clarification.
    ARR


  2. #2
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    Hitch is near 4 yrs old and was taken through the 'basics' of retriever training....ff, cc, ftp, 5 handed casting, four phase drills, swim by, etc.....I would say he is running late transition level blinds (near master level work...well, I have seen him do better on some blinds than some master level dogs, but IMO he is not quite running master level blinds..

    As to the questions regarding the training sessions...I would first like to note that he received NO collar corrections for attempting to go around the barriers...he was stopped when he was a few feet past the barrier, called forward to about 15 feet in front of the barrier and stopped, then cast over (usually an angle back) the barrier....

    Day one - the reason for giving him two opportunities to 'line' the blind by going over the log/jump (18 inches high) was because I wanted him to learn that he won't get away with trying to go around either side .......I also was working on teaching him to cast toward a 'factor' and to negotiate that factor.....(in this case a barrier)....After casting him each way, then I moved forward to build success....

    day two training... I started with success. I knew he would likely try to go around the barrier when I moved back, and that was fine with me... I wanted the opportunity to cast him over the barrier....Taking these casts, IMAO, is very important, because I know that in a test situation he will not always take the correct line...I want him to be a good handling dog and to take difficult casts..... Rather than letting him go all the way to the barrier, I stopped him when I saw him first committ to going around (about 15 feet in front of the barrier) then I cast him from there....again, no collar correction....Then ended of course with him successfully lining the blind....

    I didn't really view Hitch's attempts to go around the barrier as 'failures', but opportunities to teach. I often will say 'NO' just as he is committing to go the wrong direction .... (a habit I would actually like to cut back on, but for Hitch a 'No' is often enough for him to understand that he is doing something I don't want him to do)...As for the timing, I have often wondered if it would be best to say No after he is sitting...but by then I don't know that he would understand the 'no'...so I say it before... LOL...

    I would have given myself a B on those sessions... I didn't hurry things and gave Hitch the opportunity to be successful at both the beginning and ending of each session, with the teaching in between.

    I would agree with your percentages of teaching, training(reinforcing), testing....

    Juli
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    Default nice

    Thanks Juli for honest answers. Your responses may help others. Let's look at things a bit.
    Juli, if you had laid out a lesson plan, what stage would it have been classified as? Teaching, training, or testing? And when you laid out the lesson plan, what was the single goal?
    From what you wrote my perception is teaching/lining.
    You started short, extended the line, avoided correction, but then ran into a problem.
    Note: when I talk about "problems" or "failures" I am trying to describe that the norm/expectation was not met. Not that the handler or dog failed and gets an "F".
    At that point, you changed the concept. I understand the idea that the dog needs to take casts over obstacles, but in a pure sense, was that the goal of the session? By stopping to cast, and repeating that, do you think you enforced the lining expectation? With no correction, did you enforce the expectation?
    If your goal was purely to teach lining, is there something different you would have done?
    The second day you said you moved to a spot you "anticipated" the necessity to cast (a "failure"). Why? Again, if lining obstacles was the goal, why "test" the dog to failure? (if somebody has a different word for this than failure, please insert) Does that make sense?
    General note:
    Teaching does not mean a handler does not correct. Teaching means we simplify to help the dog learn through positive repetition and try like heck to stay away from negatives. Training is where we reinforce the teaching.

    Last note:
    Not all dogs are honest. Some will always challenge the handler. It sounds as if Juli knows her dog well. Handlers need to always assess where the dog is mentally and be prepared to respond. If Hitch is normally honest, then perhaps he will get less correction. If Hitch is always challenging the handler, and always challenging the concept (cheating), then once I am sure he knows the score, I would correct immediately. Suffice it to say that a lot depends on the dogs ability to handle pressure.
    I only use Hitch as an example.

  4. #4

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    Is this discussion between just the two of you.
    I have different variances of this same concept and a different approach on teaching it.
    If not I'll digress.

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    I had a response typed up and then my internet connection quite working...LOL

    anyway... Hitch has done similar type training, but not since last summer...He was fairly close to being done with the teaching phase, but I opted to back up a little since it has been a while....I would not do this type of drill with a dog that was just beginning this phase of his training.

    The sessions were teaching, the goal was lining AND casting......In a few days I will begin using collar corrections for lack of effort....

    If I wanted to do just a lining drill, I'd likely do an 8 spoked wagon wheel....

    Baron, please feel free to chime in.

    Juli
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  6. #6

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    I really woudn't call this blind training ARR.
    I would consider this more as a decheating tool. Yes we are teaching a line to follow. Just like we are teaching the line in cheating singles on the water. I teach this just like cheating singles on the water. The same concept and the same corrections. Except teaching the line initially is much simpler.
    Step one. Teaching the concept of jumping over the obstacle.
    I will start by going along with the dog and then jump over the obstacle myself and encourage the dog to do the same. Monkey see, monkey do.
    I'll do that several times. Then I will step directly in front of the obstacle and tease the dog with a bumper and then fling it to the other side and letting the dog rip to go get it. I then will step over the barrier and sit the dog. I will step back over the barrier and then call the dog to me. I will repeat a second time except this time I will encourage the dog right over the barrier coming back to me. If unsuccessful I have the dog jump back and forth a couple more time following me and then repeat. If the dog was successful then I start moving farther away. From the distance that I can throw I will correct for cheating the obstacle by saying "No, Here" and re throwing. At this point you are so close to the obstacle that if they intend to cheat their line is wrong right off the bat. So recalling at this point works. When I get back far enough to where I can't throw over the obstacle I bring in a helper to throw a bumper for me behind the obstacle and then send the dog. Now if the dog cheats I will let them commit to the error and then whistle sit. I may bring them back in front of the obstacle with a come in whistle and then cast as Juli has mentioned. Then proceed. When teaching this initially I use no pressure other than a recall or attrition by bringing them in and recasting.

    Step two..After the dogs have seen this several times I then relate this concept to blind running.
    I will introduce the pile of bumpers on the other side of the obstacle just like I did previously. By walking over the obstacle with the dog. Then I send them from my side up close over the obstacle to the pile. Then encourage the dog over the obstacle on return if needed. At this point I will receive the dog at a front sit(again they are up fairly close) and then back cast them over the obstacle. If there is a mistake made I may simplify by tossing a bumper over the dogs shoulder and over the obstacle to the pile. If successful then I will alternate rotations subsequently until I am satisfied and then move farther away. Remember they must rotate correctly Again sending with the dog front sitting and getting them to rotate in both directions. Then moving even farther away. Corrections will remain the same.

    Step three. Casting "over" the obstacle.
    Again introduce the pile as before. Then sit the dog to one side or the other. You will cast the dog across the obstacle using an "over" cast. Stay fairly close so that once the dog jumps the obstacle and picks up a bumper you can step back in front of the obstacle to encourage the dog to come back across. If you don't the dog will cheat around the side of the obstacle to return back to you. Once successful then start moving farther away. You also will have to flip flop from one side to the other so you can cast in both directions. Corrections on this are simply "No Here" up close and whistle sitting the dog farther away and walking along side again and recasting with another "over" cast.

    Step four... Angle cast across the obstacle.
    Corrections for this are "No Here" up close ...whistle sit at a distance and walking up and giving another angle cast.

    I try to keep my corrections with out collar pressure. Only using collar corrections for Go, Stop and Come.
    Now if I have a late transition dog that has seen this before and from me reading the dog is blatantly cheating. I may let them commit right up along side the obstacle and whistle sit. Give a nick, call them in, whistle sit and cast.

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    Default Glad you decided to get in the sandbox WR

    Sometimes my titles miss the mark. I called it blinds after reading Juli's account of her work on 3 pattern "blinds".
    I concur w/you, like I wrote in the opening, that this is actually lining drills.
    WR, if you are teaching this as a lining drill, either by marking or running to a pile, will you re-run from the same spot as Juli did if the dog avoids the obstacle? Teaching level, not training.
    If you are teaching this as a casting drill, and the dog cheats, do you re-run from the same spot again?
    Juli, you indicate that you had not worked on this since summer. That is a long time for a dog. It looks as if you started out well though. But I still wonder about how teaching a simple concept like lining obstacles becomes 2 separate concepts (lining/handling) and that was the plan. It feels as if you added a concept, and potential problems. If it had not worked, then you end up dealing with an issue that is not lining related.
    Let me ask this a different way:
    1- Were you teaching Hitch in the most conservative manner you could?
    2- What were you going to do if Hitch did not take the cast?

    Remember when I talked about teaching a dog A to D, and going back to A the next day? You concurred. Is there a chance on day 2 that you started out at A, but missed B or C and went to D where you anticipated handling?

    Note: (Not just for Juli)
    Handlers often forget that dogs do better when building ideas/concepts in a linear fashion. Simplifying is so critical to success that it can not be stressed enough. I've watched training sessions fall apart because too much got added into the initial plan, and the handler and dog could never recover. Even the simplest of plans may fail. Be prepared to act quickly to find a positive direction, and end the session on a positive note.
    Winning a battle with a dog does not necessarily mean you ended on a positive note.

  8. #8

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    If the dog tried to cheat....right off I would not move any further back. I would move up to the previous position where the dog was successful. Then either end the lesson at that point or keep simplifying it until the dog is successful. If the dog reaches this point it tells me that the dog has understood the lesson up to that distance. So I will put the dog away thinking about what it had just learned. The next lesson I would come back out and start from square one and progress...hopefully...fairly quickly to where we were the day before and build further.

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    Default Exactly!

    My thought is this. Why repeat what the dog just did not do correctly? To me, that is a test. This is not the place to test, it is a place to teach.
    If you are in training mode, and plan to correct, maybe then repeat. But we are teaching.
    Fix the problem, simplify the concept (in this case go shorter, maybe way shorter) and stop on a positive. Introducing a new concept, i.e. handling on a lining drill, has potential for failure.
    I used to struggle with this. I'd get so wrapped up in the moment that I would forget to teach. By the time I was done, the dog was confused and I was not a happy camper. "that dog knows better". Right. It did not work well then, it does not work any better today.

  10. #10
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ak River Rat View Post
    Juli, you indicate that you had not worked on this since summer. That is a long time for a dog. It looks as if you started out well though. But I still wonder about how teaching a simple concept like lining obstacles becomes 2 separate concepts (lining/handling) and that was the plan. It feels as if you added a concept, and potential problems. If it had not worked, then you end up dealing with an issue that is not lining related.
    Let me ask this a different way:
    1- Were you teaching Hitch in the most conservative manner you could?
    2- What were you going to do if Hitch did not take the cast?

    Remember when I talked about teaching a dog A to D, and going back to A the next day? You concurred. Is there a chance on day 2 that you started out at A, but missed B or C and went to D where you anticipated handling?

    Note: (Not just for Juli)
    Handlers often forget that dogs do better when building ideas/concepts in a linear fashion. Simplifying is so critical to success that it can not be stressed enough. I've watched training sessions fall apart because too much got added into the initial plan, and the handler and dog could never recover. Even the simplest of plans may fail. Be prepared to act quickly to find a positive direction, and end the session on a positive note.
    Winning a battle with a dog does not necessarily mean you ended on a positive note.

    I was teaching Hitch the best way I felt..Did I push him a little, perhaps, but no more than I felt he was comfortable with and could learn from....I guess to me, a dog has to make a few mistakes so that they can learn from those mistakes....Yes, a gradual process should be established...success is paramount to setting a foundation and building on it gradually..I don't feel I went from A to D - But yes, I will agree that I did skip B......

    Hitch's response to the training, by lining the blind after the two casts and when I backed up again are reason enough for me to believe that he was not confused as to what was expected after the 'teaching' (casting)...Also, if you saw him in training, you would not see a confused dog...IF nothing else, I work very hard to keep my dogs happy and relatively worry free.....If at any time during the training I felt he was 'losing ground', I would definitely simplify and do whatever it took to get him confident again....

    If he had not taken my first cast, most likely he would have gone too wide (tried to go around the other side)..If he had done this, I am not sure if I would have let him go (because he took the cast, just not as precisely as I would have liked) or if I would have stopped him and called him back a little and tried again...I probably would have moved up some if I had called him back to recast...If I let him go then the next time I would bring him back to the front of the barrier, either way, we would have changed our drill to a handling drill only..... LOL ....

    ARR, you obviously have trained dogs for either field trials or hunt tests...given your knowledge of the general procedures... I appreciate your questions. They make me think about what I am doing and why I am doing it more than I already do...It is good to get a different perspective...Someday perhaps we can get together for some training.....
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    Default Juli is awesome!

    I applaud you. I am impressed whenever a person can look at themselves and make a self determination that is revealing. You ma'am get an A. (Maybe a C for the session though) (insert happy face, emoticon broken)
    There is much I do not know about training dogs. I do know where many of my failings are. And I do know where I have seen others fail. I will not say, in any words Juli, that you failed. You decide for your "team" if you made good choices or not. If not, then make the adjustments. I bet Hitch will turn out just fine with your guidance.
    When you look at your pattern blinds, think about your goals.
    How will you:
    1- Simplify the concept
    2- Make the corrections
    3- Trouble shoot the problems
    4- Modify the program
    You have a plan, now go do it!
    Most people do not look at what could go wrong, pre-plan corrections or reactions, and then train. They get butt deep into problems before they know it, and their dogs learn nothing in the process other than training is no fun at all.
    Remember Simplify? How could you do your patterns differently?
    Maybe:
    1-establish the line by starting short and working back. Keep working the line until the dog understands the whole length.
    2- add on 1 obstacle close to the pile. Start close, move back.
    3- Add on one more obstacle at a time, start close, move back each time.
    4- Put the whole blind with all obstacles together.
    or:
    1- establish the blind
    2- add an obstacle, start close, move back
    3- move close and start handling on 1st obstacle. Left and right side angles, overs, and backs.
    4- Add obstacles and handle over each one, same as first.
    Now:
    Develop other blinds that are similar. blinds to line over obstacles, blinds to handle over obstacles.
    Through this whole process, the dog learns that the obstacles must be hurdled. Regardless if he is lined or handled, clearing the obstacle is the norm.
    You've taught him several different blinds with obstacles. You have lined him, and handled him. He is perfect every time regardless of wind, time of day, etc. Now it is time to train.
    How? At the next training session I might start at the end of the already established pattern blinds, the furthest point, and run him on the lining concept cold. If he cheated, I would correct and handle. If he cheated, I might run the next blind shorter or find a way to make the training exercise less complex. READ THE DOG!
    So what happens if he nails it? GREAT JOB! Do it again the next day, and maybe the day after. Again, know the dog, read the signs.
    Success! Happy days! What now?
    A cold blind with obstacles. This is the test. We don't test where we taught or trained. Find a place that looks and feels the same, set up similar obstacles that look the same, and run the dog. Be prepared to correct. I would not let him cheat a cold blind just because I was assessing his knowledge.
    If he has to handle, and does it cleanly, great! Go run the test again elsewhere. Do not run the same blind. If you have issues figure out the problem and develop a strategy to fix it.

    Note:
    The ideas are predicated on a handler knowing the dog. The ability to read and understand what is happening. Most of the questions we deal with on this forum are related to puppies and basics. All of you, just starting out, are where WR, Juli, 3CBRS, Linda, and others were sometime in the past.
    Training dogs is not scary. It is not difficult. It does take time and commitment. More of you should be working on complex issues, especially if you want a good hunting dog.

    While I am not a club guy today, I once was. Clubs do offer great value to handlers just starting out. I always worry about the club members that started in show (badly) and turned to field as another outlet for their endeavors, then attempt to teach new arrivals, but most clubs will have somebody that can help you build on some basics and get your dogs into more complex issues.
    Watch and learn. Sit back and see how other people train. Take notes. Think about it. Does it make sense? Really?

    I watched a guy one time stick a collar on a dog. He'd never say a word to the dog, but if the dog got off line or did something wrong he'd burn the dog. Why I asked? He said, "that teaches the dog to not do that".
    That my friends is a dangerous trainer. Not only to his dogs, but to impressionable new trainers. No, his dogs never amounted to anything. I don't recall them ever completing a single test at any level.
    3CBRS, do you remember that guy? Might have been before your time.

    Juli has been a great sport. She allowed herself to be put in the spotlight without knowing what the direction was. I am surprised that there are not more questions or comments by others. This is not the ARR, WR, and Tuffboots show. Please ask questions or make comments.
    ARR

  12. #12
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    I'll be the first to admit my shortcomings as a trainer...Fact of the matter is, I am 99.9% self taught and so writing these training sessions up for others to 'critique' is a great way for me to learn and reflect.......I have never had a mentor or anyone to show me how to do it...I had books and videos, and the internet....It hasn't been an easy road, and I know I have a long way to go... But I love the challenge and within the next 3-4 ys, hope to have a chessie titled in all three hunt test venues (HRCH, MHR, MH), plus have his CH (then we will see about running Q's )....I feel pretty confident we'll be able to do it... Well, I hope so.

    Thanks ARR for your input....

    Juli
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    Sorry to drag out an old thread, but WOW!

    I would love to lock my self in a room with these three and just suck knowledge from their brains! There's a lot of good information in this thread and if you haven't read it in a while it's worth a look.

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    Default Bring a short straw

    The glass is not very deep.
    Glad you got something out if it. Writing thoughts, especially training, in such a way that people can understand it, is tough for me.
    Thanks for bringing this back out for folks to see.

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