Blind Retrieve Training

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Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:11 pm

The Duck Search subject is getting alot of air play at the moment. I weighed in explaining my approach and why - that being I wanted to lay a foundation of taking a line at the start of the duck search (and all subsequent resends), as a foundation for working basic blind retrieve handling once we have completed Duck Search and UT test (which we have).

As commonly noted, the habit of independent self direction on the part of the dog, built and required for the UT Duck Search does present some challenges for subsequent training for handling. Or at least it has to some extent for me. We worked baseball drills, walking baseball, T drills on land for several months now (with some interruption for turkey season).

I have been working to move from land to water. Which is more difficult. One reason being it is not nearly as easy to correct the dog when it does not take the signal given. And for Spud, there has been some genuine confusion on what I am asking him to do, vs the prior training for Duck Search, where he worked independently seeking out objectives and searching to them on his own.

I need some shallow water where I can get in and go towards him for corrections if needed. So we did a long hot march into this shallow area this morning and worked two blind retrieves. It went well and I did not have to enter the water.

While we were on the opposite side and Spud was out searching the land and cover for raccoons and turkeys, I tossed two dead birds along that bank. Then we went across the dam to the opposite bank and I sent Spud on the first of two retrieves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBSEGffAUmQ

This is the second send. Spud took the line I sent him on and when he did not find a bird he started to my right. I stopped him with the Whoa whistle I use for dual purposes and then gave him a left Over voice and hand signal. He took it and was successful in doing it. Hoping it will be something to build on. My experience is as distance and cover increase things get tougher, so working on a foundation of success to proceed on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgrln1nBOA4
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:25 pm

nice dog ... and dog work. Looks like you're on your way!
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:30 pm

Thank you Bruce. GH and Yourself have done some beneficial behind the scenes consulting and it is appreciated.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby ANick » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:33 pm

AG,
It sure looks like you are well on the way!
Loved the line on the way out, not to mention the speed and certainty Spud's going for it!
From the looks of Spud on your 'over', I have to think that if he hasn't put 2 and 2 together, it isn't far off! I suppose he could do better... I just don't know where or what!

Looking danged sharp!

Nice work to the two of you. :)
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:35 am

Thank you, Sir.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:38 am

Gave Spud a mental break on yesterday mornings run. Only thing I asked him to do was loadup, otherwise he got to run and search with no requirements from me. I find it helps to give a dog a day off at times.

This morning I setup a land Blind run so that I could work on the Back command and build more distance into it, both between Spud and I and Spud and the bird I was sending him towards. I used the mowed path as at this stage the cover is too inviting for Spud to go searching in, particularly at longer distances, and I used a dead bird but set it off to the edge in cover. There was very little wind movement and tossing that bird into the edge of cover vs in the path proved more difficult than I had planned. Spud took the Back perfectly but ran by the bird and then came back towards me searching. I let him go for a short bit to see if he would go back on his own. He was drawn to the natural cover where he had found many a rabbit and an occasional quail, so I stopped him and sent him back again. He missed the bird again but hit it as he turned back towards me. I am sure it looks rough to some, (which it is), but is a huge positive to me in that he is showing an increased understanding and willingness to let me stop and direct him. Using the bird is a step up from a bumper which is why I used it, and I was very pleased with his demeanor. I stopped there. Short and Sweet and something I think we can build on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-CspAoPlFs
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby Densa44 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:58 am

If this is for hunting, remember that you will be reloading, ducking down in the blind and may have no idea where the bird is. That is one reason for the duck search. I'm on the fence but IME when the duck is belly up on the pond they find it without help and when it is in the weeds, they also find it without my help.

We hunt a lot and the dogs are pretty much self taught for these skills.
Pine Ridges Ginnieve NA 112 UT pz 1 200
Camridge's Sienna NA 112 UT pz 1 204
Foothill Joce NA 112
Czarina Vom Oberland VJP 70 NA pz 112
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:45 pm

Yes, This dog is 2 years old and had a good bit of waterfowling opportunities in his first two seasons (including Alberta last fall). We trained for all the UT subjects last summer and passed his UT Prize 1 in August 2017. Now we are working on some basic land and water blind retrieve handling skills so I can send him in the right direction into the area of the fall before he begins searching.

I trained for the Duck Search in a way that conditioned Spud to take some pretty clean lines when sent and then search cover when he arrived. I want the best of both worlds - a dog with strong independent search but an understanding and willingness to let me direct him within reason as to where to begin his search.

I can walk up to many different bodies of water and send him on a clean line on a blind retrieve out to a little over 100 yards as seen in this blind we ran one morning this week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51ss3qWP6a0

But it gets tougher as the distances increase. Here was a blind I setup and ran the day after the video just above. It was our longest distance water blind to date. There was good vegetation all around the edges of that large pond and Spud spotted some to his right and really wanted to go search it vs taking the line I sent him on.

If I was actually hunting and had no ability to redirect him, he would have gone over to his right and searched for a very long time and then gone who knows where after that, vs having an ability to redirect him to where I knew the duck had fallen and he did not.

He gave me a look as he veered right and I used it to give him a BACK verbal and hand signals. He wandered a bit making up his mind and then complied with the direction I had given him and we succeeded in the retrieve, with him using his nose and his eyes to direct himself once he was on the right line. Hopefully something to build on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNl36ORQpRc
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:34 am

Dogs always head for the nearest land and have to be a trained to follow your directions instead. Your dog is a very strong swimmer and responds nicely. Too many finger prints erode independence but too few are in other ways just as bad.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:24 am

Thanks for viewing and commenting Bruce. You have accurately picked up on my objective with this dog and wanting to strike the right balance for our hunting needs.

A couple of weeks ago now I tried a similar long distance water blind which the line sent required Spud to pass through some flooded timber halfway across that was highly similar to the cover he has been trained to search independently for Duck Search. He predictably hung up searching in the cover when he arrived at it, he took a couple of my BACK attempts to push him on through for a short distance, but returned to the cover both times. He was confused as to why his searching the cover I lined him towards was not what I wanted now, and I abandoned that attempt and called him in.

I was not surprised he hung up in the flooded timber the line took him to, but wanted to see if the Back and Over training we had done was sufficient to move him on past it. It was not so I dropped back to some relatively shorter distances across clean water and he performed well on those. This video was an attempt at increasing the distance with less suction than taking a line directly through cover to complete the retrieve.

I got permission to train in a fresh mowed hay field close to home and used some white bucket targets and bumpers at longer distances set out in the baseball diamond pattern to review some longer range Backs and Overs two days ago. We have of course done this before but not at the distances we were working now. I thought we were at a point of no longer using the targets but decided to drop back and make it simpler for a couple of sessions to build his confidence in what he is being asked to do when I stop and redirect him as needed.

A few mistakes were made but Spud stopped each time I gave the Whoa whistle and then allowed me to redirect him to the target. Working on land allows me to help him by moving towards the correct target as I give the Command and hand signal (I think GH gave me that tip). The targets gave him more zip/confidence he was doing what I wanted and less confusion when I redirected him was my take on how it went. I will work that a few more times in this manner and place and if we are mistake free I am thinking about using the same buckets/targets set on electric fence posts so they are visible in cover and trying some similar work in taller cover on land before going back to water.

It was over 76 degrees at dawn this morning and working this stuff in heat can get boring and look like work vs fun pretty quickly. Hence why I am working water as much as I have been.

Sharing this to solicit input and comments on my plan. They are appreciated.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby booger » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:04 am

Did you use the buckets in the water? That's what I'm planning to do once I have a few more sessions in on land.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:14 pm

booger wrote:Did you use the buckets in the water? That's what I'm planning to do once I have a few more sessions in on land.


I used a single white bucket last summer when I trained Spud to cross the open water towards cover on the other side as part of his Duck Search training. I have not used one in the water since June of last year as he learned to home in the cover on the far side and did not need it.

For now, (and unless someone with better knowledge and experience advises differently), I am going to use the buckets again on land at longer distances and when handling looks reasonably crisp on land, eliminate the targets and work the same distances on land without them. When that looks good we will go back to the fairly clean water with no targets and see how well the handling skills carry from land to water.

GH gave me a good tip on using floating rat traps anchored to the bottom with some bumpers with their cords under the trigger part of the rat trap, such that a dog can be sent to them and the dog can get a bumper and swim away with it. I may well try that in the near future. We have had some success with 180 and 90 degree angle handling in open water up to this point but at shorter distances.

Once we are having consistent success on clean water, I will try some cover in water applications again. If we immediately struggle there I will probably use some targets or alternatively jump in a kayak and go in the direction I want the dog to go similar to how I do on the land when we are hitting a snag.

I will also use some dead ducks when I go to cover in water to make sure the dog feels motivated and rewarded. If you noticed I used a Dolken duck in the video which is one step up on the excitement level vs a bumper for this dog.

That is my plan until I learn it needs it change. If others think I am on the wrong path please speak up and advise differently.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby crackerd » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:56 am

Average Guy, what's your objective in having a versatile that will actually handle in the retriever sense? For waterfowling only, or for competition as well?

Land skills on blinds when it comes to handling don't carry over much a'tall on water - not for precise handling, nor for the dog's treading water whilst awaiting your cast, nor for both the aforementioned combined and at distance.

However, putting your versatile through swim-by could make your dreams come true. :wink:

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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:04 am

MG, Thanks for taking a look. My objective is mostly about Waterfowl Hunting and being able to direct this dog into the area of the fall out to a couple of hundred yards at least on water or land. I want to preserve the independent search we developed while hunting and then training for the Duck Search portion of the UT as we hunt public marshes with alot cover.

Having trained the Duck Search first there is the predictable tendency for the dog to hang up in and search cover which is great when he got a mark but not great at all if it is a blind and he is wasting time in the wrong place or direction.

We worked Baseball, Walking Baseball on land and he understands Back and Over fairly well but I have concluded not well enough. I am expanding distances now in low cover on land using piles of bumpers at white buckets to ensure he handles well on land then want to go back to water. Most of my Waterfowl hunting is water related.

Appreciate any insights and advice you can offer. I am no great shakes in this area of training but willing to work at it and so is the dog.
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Re: Blind Retrieve Training

Postby crackerd » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:59 am

Average Guy, essentially I took on the same challenge almost 20 years ago (I know that's a mere dust mote in time compared to Gonehuntin' presiding over the fishes and loaves retrieved to hand after multiplying into pile work :wink: ). Think I UT'd four times and got fours in all but one attempt - a small farm pond in a southerly clime that had no cover and that the ducks wouldn't stay put on, but that's another story. I then moved into the backyard of a large freshwater impoundment and figured that if the dog were going to be pulling (crippled) ducks and geese out of it, given that the pond, which had no cover and no traffic by fishermen or homeowners, was something like 600 yards in all directions, a duck search wasn't the brightest idea for accomplishing it.

I had started to run AKC retriever hunt tests with another less traditional breed, and just came across the swim-by - and the fun was on! That's for handler and (generally) dog alike, because the swim-by is like pile work with aquatic improv and with more control on your end - you are casting the dog where you want it to go, and if the dog shows any hesitance to follow instructions you can either get in the water with the dog or run to the end of the a swim-by pond (the best are 15 x 30 yards, just long enough for a dog to carry out a longer cast) to meet and greet the dog as it completes the cast by picking up a bumper.

There's more to it than that, of course, but there's also plenty of information on the swim-by to be found online. If you've done the other drills described above, you might already have some familiarity with swim-by. But if not I would send you to an article by Dennis Voigt, one of the best amateur retriever trainers afoot: http://www.gundogsonline.com/Article/the-swim-by-retriever-training-Page1.htm. The actual "swimming by" the handler in this drill is a major step in handling but that doesn't happen all at once, but is worked toward incrementally over 15 to 20 sessions in a couple weeks' time. Finding a suitable swim-by pond is paramount - I found that out the hard way by having to resort to a Lowe's retention pond and running over rip-rap to keep pace with the dog's progress.

Good luck, hope this helps - or at least gives a little insight into handling a retrieving gundog.

MG
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