Balancing Blind Momentum
|Over the last several
years, the concept of balance in training has always been a focal point.
However, pinning it down and actually accomplishing it has become more of a
challenge because every dog is different. My last pup seems to have taken
forever to "lock" on a line for running blinds. Just "kicking him off"
didn't seem to make any progress. Wagon wheels were effective for "wagon
wheels", but the carryover was minimal. Other lining drills were
mastered rather quickly, but in the process of working through this, his
"leaving" desire was not all that great. Added to that, he seemed a little
too laid back about "getting there".
Success and rewards are powerful. Gunny was a little slow to mature and the type of dog that demonstrated more of a need to know "What's in this for me?" To a certain extent, I have often thought this was the residual impact of being a singleton pup. Recently, the light has gone on.........he is a different dog.
First of all, I figured the "leaving" part would improve once his motivation kicked in. Secondly, "getting there" would come around when it meant something more special and fun. So the training approach was to focus on those two issues.
What set this in motion was finding a freshly mowed field that was perfect for the introduction of my 3 Ghilly "faux shrub" lining drill. It was angled across a mowed pattern with a strong wind factor. This was to be a variation of what are called gradient blinds (a theme).
Gunny ran 9 blinds...three from each station. Each running station was on a line angling away from the 3 Ghilly's (faux shrubs" with bumper piles). Mostly, this was a lining drill to work on Gunny's "look lock". He caught on to the routine rather quickly and had fun with it. I knew we were on the right track. A long range plan was clarified after running this drill. I would use specific drills with targets (not white "stuff") to enhance his "looking out". The goal was to enhance his desire and create more balance in his "leaving" and "getting there".
(left click to enlarge thumbnails)
The long range plan was to zero in on the
training concept of "doing what the dog needs". A variety of "attractants"
were to be used to "draw" his focus. Eventually, the phases would lead to
natural attractants......real terrain. At the time, the exact steps were not
fully realized. However, it was fun thinking about "what each would
The setup photo was taken from a small rise beyond.
The pile was invisible from the line. It was initially "identified" by
throwing a bumper to it from the first line. It wasn't long before he was
literally flying between decoys (like they weren't there). The decoys were
exciting and the drill was fun.
The first eight pictures show Gunny's older sister, Daisy, reviewing the process. The following set of photos show Gunny (the pup) learning how to work through the "No-No" concept. He was a quick study.
Once the idea of "dealing with a barrier" was imprinted, distance was added to the equation. The "distance" drill was simplified by using a previous pattern blind. This sequence of photos reveals the use of stickmen to form an additional "slot" beyond the "camo" jump. When taught via increments, the difficulty of the drill is reduced because of previous "No-No" concept training plus using a familiar path. "Leaving" and "getting there" were what we were working on. Gunny flew through these early sessions with a great deal of excitement and poise (because it was a clear picture and fun). The mental image "of a line" and the routine of "going" was being solidified. His high desire in "getting there" was developing quickly.
The next step in the "progression of visuals" was
to introduce more natural slots and barriers. The addition of varying
"pictures" with related themes was designed to get Gunny focusing on
straight ahead destinations. His "leaving" desire improved tremendously
because there was more confidence in "getting there" (he wanted to).
He now had a vision with motivation which fed "the fire". The
idea of white buckets and/or stakes was rejected as too much of a
August will include finishing off the Definitive Casting drills and
an introduction to the "No-No" mound. Gunny
likes "leaving" and "getting there".