Going for 204!

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Going for 204!

Postby Densa44 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:08 pm

Once you have confidence in your duck search, and if you are an experienced trainer (read old retriever guy) I know you are thinking about acing the test. Here is one tip if you like living dangerously.
No leash!
Now, to be honest I started my no leash life because of knee surgery and was afraid that if I got tangled up and landed on my back, I might still be there on the ground in the wilds of Alberta. You'll need to buy your own stakes to heel and just s many ass they use in the test.
This has to be practiced a lot so the dog and you are both confident that you can do it.
If you have run a Derby dog (junior in Canada) in a CKC/AKC trial you'll remember the rise in heart beat when you take her leash off in front of the judges. We don't want that! Practice with no leash enough so that there is no leap in the dog's level of excitement when you enter the stakes.
The senior judge I spoke to said that every time the leash came tight in the heeling segment he took off a point. With no leash that is not nearly as easy to do.
The other parts of the test, you all know about and I'll leave them to my younger and more qualified colleagues.
You can do this, practice and confidence is the key. One thing that I have noticed about Vdogs is that they are very smart, I had very good BLFs but my PP tops them all. If she knows what I want, she'll do it. Good luck out there and enjoy your dogs.
Camridge's Sienna NA 112 UT pz 1 204
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:54 pm

I have many advantages living on a farm with grass fields, woods, 3 ponds, two coops of pigeons and pen full of ducks at the moment.

When I was training Spud for his UT I had a camo fabric holding blind setup beside the pond below the house and white electric fence posts set up as heeling gates, a small spread of decoys on the pond. It was easy to practice heeling and steady by the blind and we had it down perfect off leash.

Then we ran a mock test at our NAVHDA Chapter with lots of dogs around . Ole Spud smelled some dog smells as he passed through the gates, stopped and hiked his leg on one of them before catching up to me. It alerted me to the very real possibility he would do the same at the test with all the strange dogs around.

On test day I knew we still had a shot a Prize 1 because the field portion had gone well, so when we got to the heeling and steady by the blind portion of the test I walked a considerably faster pace than normal to keep him moving past the posts. The Judges correctly called me on it and we got a 3 in heeling.

I smiled and said nothing when the Head Judge accurately told me the score reflected me walking so fast and not the dog. He was right but he did not know it was on purpose to avert getting an even lower score and knocking ourselves out of Prize 1 in what should be the easiest part of the test. :)
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:10 pm

I've witnessed many dogs having challenges on the "easy" components after doing well on the "harder" ones. Test day is very different than training... The more you can emulate testing in your training, the higher level of success is normally achieved.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:21 pm

I have a GWP buddy who missed UT Prize 1 due to heeling only. Another GSP buddy, same thing, missed UT Prize 1 in heeling only.

I saw a Retriever Trial Judge running her Master Level Lab at the Started Level last summer because the dog had become trial wise and developed a breaking problem. She was running Started because of the single marks then allowing her to keep the dog from breaking in an actual test situation.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:07 am

That works until about the exact nanosecond the lead comes off the dog’s neck as it leaves the holding blind going to the line in a higher level test. True and tested axiom for retrievers: There are those that break, and those that are going to. Sounds like you’re describing HRC, which at last recall uses dead birds 99% of the time in their tests which tempers what happens with a “lively” retriever at the line. Add a hot flyer - aptly called a “breaking bird” - for AKC hunt tests (and occasionally FTs), and the remedial notion of bringing an advanced dog to the line on lead in a started HRC test collapses like a house of hummingbird feathers.

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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:47 am

MG,

It was a NAHRA test. What I typed is the extent of my knowledge of the situation. My thought in sharing it was it is another data point of a dog trained and capable of some very high level work (the dog has a Master Title) but failing because of something that should be simple but is not so simple under the environment of the test as SwitchGrassWPG commented. Whether what she was doing went on to fix the problem I don't know but it seemed like a logical approach to me at the time. The dog was test wise because of the rule preventing corrections during a test was what the woman conveyed to me.

Off subject but related to booger's thread on what breed of Vdog is easiest to train for handling, there is another lab in our training group which has a very significant problem with barking, whining, and dancing at the line. I made a one sentence mention of it in that thread, but I have sure seen some significant training challenges crop up with some high powered Labs with some pretty good amateur trainers at the helm. Notions you can avoid training problems via breed is contrary to my observations. Individual dogs in every breed are capable of bringing some challenges to the forefront is what I see.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:03 am

Strong off-topic observations there, AG - real strong. "Challenges" is a good euphemism for a number of FT Lab woes - you can add sticking (refusal to give up a bird) and even blinking a flyer, both by FCs I've run against. That's the upshot of running dogs that are trained incessantly on innumerable concepts and bred to be "on edge" with their control and TNT on four legs. And the quick fixes for these challenges are also innumerable and will work as a Band-Aid in many cases. But to more your more trenchant observation on "avoiding training problems via breed," cannot agree more and further to the point that's why my favorite dogs to train over the long haul are the less shall we say supercharged models, topping the list a British Lab trained for US FTs to at least a competitive level, not FC by any means but always arming me with peace of mind going to the line with her. She in turn reminded me and to this day still does of my old spinone that I ran in NAHRA senior or as you called it "master level." I've mentioned before but in different context one test where while airing (and on lead!) she encountered a groundhog sow and dispatched it with maximum efficiency but with a fairly gutteral growl in so doing that it got the judges' attention to rush over and try to break up what they presumed was a dog fight. Having got through the land series and the land blind at that same test, we went to water and alas it was a sordid time for NAHRA when no flyers were shot or dead birds available because of some H1N1 avian virus, with Dokkens used instead. She picked the first two "birds" but upon recall with the second caught a glimpse of real action if you will in the far corner of a farm pond - Muscovies. I sent her for the last faux bird and she went on a line right past it and directly toward the domestic ducks a couple hundred yards away. Proud to say, reverting to crucial NAVHDA training, I was able to call her off the ducks just as I had in several UT duck searches - as you know, failure to have your dog under control when the judges say "time" dings your cooperation score and can quash your hopes not just for Prize 1 but for a qualifying score altogether. That satisfaction overrode the fact that I had in the parlance "picked up" my dog from completing the test and was summarily put out of it.

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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:25 am

Great story MG.

(That Lab is an AKC Master, just happened I met up with it running in NAHRA Started trying to fix that breaking problem.)
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby ryanr » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:09 am

MG, interesting comment. This is a little bit of a tangent from the original conversation but I would hope most judges would not ding a dog for cooperation after they called "Time" if the dog is on a duck or actively trailing one. More than once I've seen this scenario play out and the dog & handler given some leeway since trying to call a dog off a duck or hot scent of one goes against every ounce of desire a handler has worked on with the dog in duck search training. I remember a dog emerge from the reeds a couple hundred yards across the marsh just after the judges had called time and the handler had just given a recall. The dog was in hot pursuit of a duck swimming out in front of it. The dog was vocalizing and everything. The experirnced handler turned to the judges and basically said "hey, this isn't going to be easy here toget that dog off the duck." And it wasn't, it took some convincing (and the duck diving and disappearing) before the dog came in but he did come right back to the handler once he finally turned off of the pursuit. The dog didn't get dinged at all. If I recall, the judges were about to have someone go out and shoot the duck before it disappeared.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:30 am

Ryan, a little sidebar to the "time" angle - re control and cooperation, rather than judges' discretion, which as you probably know can vary widely in NAVHDA. Where I ran the duck search for the first time after training heavily for it, the dog could get out of sight and at distance in a hurry, especially with a lively duck. When the judges called time after about 12 minutes or so, I hadn't seen the dog in at least half that time, much less the duck. But I did as bidden by the judges and whistled in the dog. After maybe two minutes there was a speck on the horizon swimming toward the line where the search originated - "line" is the operative word here because that return was essentially the Rosetta Stone for my future interest in retrievers and the competitive games involving them, though I didn't know it at the time.

As the dog got closer, another handler who happened to be a friend of one of the judges leaned in and said something I overheard, but that had zero significance to me at the time. The comment was "Now there's something you don't see every day - unless you're at a retriever trial." I sought him out and asked what he was talking about - he said, "A dog returning 400 yards on a straight line through water and going over rather than around the obstacles in its way" - tussocks, fallen dead trees and the opportunity to run around the bank to cut about 150 yards from the swim. He was a retriever trialer who also ran NAVHDA, one of few I'm pretty sure, and in my early years of training and working gundogs, I would glom on to even the most meager compliment beyond "Nice first step at heel - now get the other 999 in sync." Maybe even that one, too. But I had no frame of reference for retrievers and made it a point afterward to find out if somebody was blowing smoke, or if my versatile breed really had done something unexpected and unusual - in demonstrating her cooperation and maybe a smidgeon of the control we had worked on up through the UT when the judges called time that day.

ryanr wrote:MG, interesting comment. This is a little bit of a tangent from the original conversation but I would hope most judges would not ding a dog for cooperation after they called "Time" if the dog is on a duck or actively trailing one. More than once I've seen this scenario play out and the dog & handler given some leeway since trying to call a dog off a duck or hot scent of one goes against every ounce of desire a handler has worked on with the dog in duck search training. I remember a dog emerge from the reeds a couple hundred yards across the marsh just after the judges had called time and the handler had just given a recall. The dog was in hot pursuit of a duck swimming out in front of it. The dog was vocalizing and everything. The experirnced handler turned to the judges and basically said "hey, this isn't going to be easy here toget that dog off the duck." And it wasn't, it took some convincing (and the duck diving and disappearing) before the dog came in but he did come right back to the handler once he finally turned off of the pursuit. The dog didn't get dinged at all. If I recall, the judges were about to have someone go out and shoot the duck before it disappeared.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby ryanr » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:00 pm

Wow, that is something (btw, did the dog have a duck?)
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:11 pm

ryanr wrote:Wow, that is something (btw, did the dog have a duck?)


No, and that subsequently became a reflection of keen analysis for me. Why so? After the UT, I went on to train the dog with Mike Lardy's retriever program and the whole shebang of forcing to pile, double-T, and swim-by, and not long after that began training with a group of retriever hunt testers and field trialers, though I only trained my dogs that were at the time eligible for AKC hunt tests (as most versatiles now are) and FTs. One of the things I learned with retrievers is if they are off-line running a blind, you should stop them with a whistle and call them in verbally to the point where their line diverged, then recast them - call them in verbally ("Here! Here! Here!") rather than blowing the come-in whistle (three blasts), because retrievers ordinarily hear the come-in whistle as soon as they've got something in their mouths during their early training. If you blow the whistle to get them to come back toward you for recasting them on a blind, they have a tendency to almost panic trying to find something to put in their mouths - because that's how they've been trained. Even today, if I've got a dog that's gone off-line 350 yards out into a 400-yard blind, I will shout "Here!" no matter how far I have to move up or with the wind to make myself heard by the dog. You want the focus on you the instant you stop them with the whistle to bring them into position for a recast - not on their wanting to find something to put in their mouth that shows they haven't forgot their formative training.

So how does this even begin to address your question of "...(btw, did the dog have a duck?)" Well, not long after she was (somewhat re)trained as a retriever, I sent her on a huge water blind for a crippled snow geese, which really ain't much of a "blind" at all under normal circumstances because the dog can establish visuals that negate the "blind" aspect of it at hundreds of yards on calm open water. But there was no calm that day only rollers. The dog was taking my casts given from up on a hill, and taking them beautifully in the direction of the goose, which would dive every 25 yards or so at different angles tacking with the wind. This was at about 450 yards and I could see the dog and goose fandango as it unfolded. And the dog was losing ground. I decided to give her a straight back cast to get her to the far shore, probably another hundred yards away. I watched her get to shore and as soon as she was on land, blew the come-in whistle. I could see her hesitating to get back into the water, I blew the whistle again, saw her appear to hesitate once more, which triggered three more come-in whistle blasts. She got into the water with no further hesitation and started the 500+-yard swim back into the teeth of the wind and the rollers. At a couple hundred yards from me she seemed to be swimming lower into the water than I wanted to see but it was just a matter of hoping she would persevere because there was no other choice, really as I couldn't get in a boat and go out and get her on this piece of water. She did, but again her head was barely above water at about 100 yards away...and at 50 yards...and then, at 25 yards out, I saw why. Wasn't fatigue, wasn't her bad hips, wasn't the cold water - but was the retrieve she made. She had heard the sit whistle once ashore after after having been sent on a blind ("Dead bird" cue leading her into it) and when I blew the come-in whistle, she reverted to her NAVHDA (and AHDC Orange Book) force fetch mandate: Don't come back to me without putting something in your gob, anything in your gob, anything that will provide evidence that I, a versatile dog properly trained to cooperate with my handler, am not refusing a retrieve. And that retrieve to this day is the proudest I've ever been of one of my dogs bringing home the bacon, and by a country mile: An an empty two-litre soda bottle...that, if I think about it even today for more than a few seconds, makes my eyes water a little.

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Re: Going for 204!

Postby Kiger2 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:01 pm

MG, Good posts MG.Excellent anecdotal description of why handling dogs will more often than not, win the day. Not sure I buy the dog always assuming that a come in whistle means you better have something in their mouth.They always got in way more trouble for quitting a hunt or switching. But If pup blows past the bird, isn't the appropriate response by you to sit whistle and then give a return cast direction, Either angle in right or left or both hands out and down, come straight in with a recall whistle? I run drills on this. Also need to run drills on getting back into the water.

And actually, the dog should hear the return whistle right before he picks up the bird whenever possible. If not possible before , as soon after as you know pup has the bird. The reason his to out "return" into their mind. They may have other ideas.

I get the 12 minute rule. But you likely got ripped off. This is an old story, dont know if its true but... many decades ago there was trial on the eastern seaboard. They shot this duck and a chess took off after it, duck was lightly crippled, chess swam out of sight towards the open sea. A few hours later as trial the trial was still ongoing the chess returned with the duck. The chess won the trial. As the story goes.
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Postby Willie T » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:20 am

A live swimmer is the mother of all poison birds in my opinion.

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Re:

Postby crackerd » Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:17 am

Willie T wrote:A live swimmer is the mother of all poison birds in my opinion.


Oh, yeah, motherdom deluxe. Never known it to be used, don't know the legality in FTs, but have had the "pleasure" in training of handling away from a flyer crip on a PB blind. I wasn't running FTs at the time, but I remember in the early 000's when Mojo ducks were allowed and used shall we say conspicuously in AKC Master Hunt Tests, at least in our part of the country - one of my dogs swam right up the stake trying to scarf it. Can you say DONE, DQ'd, Pick-Up City? Not long afterward Mojos were banned. Too much "poison."

Kiger, thanks, I think, but as you know many ways to peel the banana or skin the feline, and I was trained basically, after the basics are done, not to blow a come-in whistle unless absolutely needed. Going on the premise that when a dog makes a retrieve where else would it go with that retrieve except returning to the handler. Also, most FT dogs return to the handler at warp speed because we (some of us - e.g., opening sentence) force on back and force (a little) on "back to the handler" in pile work. Because any tarrying with a return is "burning memory," and I'm sure you know what I mean re two or three retired birds in a series that's usually a triple but can be a quad. But before yard work and on singles with a young dog - especially singles thrown up on land where the dog (the pup) has to exit water and get the bird, you are 100% correct with the preemptive come-in whistle to let the dog (the pup) know the return should be its predominant thought upon picking a bird or bumper. And that return should be not only expedient but on a straight line as alluded to way above.

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