"Place" and "Send Backs" (sequence)


    High level retriever performance requires a significant quantity of interrelated
    skills. Acquiring those skills ahead of time is often proactive and makes for 
    a more seamless process. "Seamless" means not having to teach more than
    one thing at a time. A very useful question to routinely confront when
    training is "What does my dog need to know before attempting this setup?"

    The rationale is to introduce concepts in a seamless manner knowing that later
    the required supporting skills will be in place. One physical example is a
    placeboard. This "tool" becomes part of the picture when teaching send backs.
    Introducing placeboards as a segment of early OB training does accomplishes
    a great deal (proactive). 

    When serious marking begins the concepts of "place" and "send backs"
    should be well entrenched. In addition, skills are much easier to teach when
    the context is singular in nature. Teach one concept at a time. 

    Lastly, one should note the "place" command will "identify" 1) a physical
    position and/or
2) an action. The context is often quite varied and should be
    obvious to the dog when dealing with any session).  

    Given the previous parameters establishing skills in best done gradually and
    seamlessly over a period of several months.

    The following
excerpts from Pounce's monthly training journals cover a nine
     month window
of seamless presentations.       

July 27 (2014) first week home...this afternoon she will begin being fed on a
       small placeboard (once a day), the other times will mostly be in her crate

Aug 3 Pounce did several "run thru" moves with the dog hide......it makes a
       tunnel with plenty of room to shoot "in and out" (early exposure to a dog
       hide will payoff later)
 note: Pounce is eight weeks old
Aug 5 two pictures of “working” quail and using the dog hide

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  "in after a quail"
"out with the quail"

                Pounce's Quail/Bird Imprint - YouTube Video (link)
April feeding often on a placeboard

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          ten weeks old

Aug  23 each day treats are used to continue the imprints of "sit" and "kennel" 
      plus a placeboard is always around to have a few "sit/place" verbal cues to
      chain in the eventual use of the "place” command
             note: early, casual "imprinting" is easy and proactive

September through early November Pounce was mostly at duck camp (often)
             note: boat rides, playing in the Mississippi River backwaters and
                      learning how to be just one of the pack of four
Oct 10  started two new things this week 1) "kennel" command is being changed to "kennel/place" eventually transitioning  to remote sits on "place" commands
Oct 20 a placeboard is now "in the area" where she trains....Pounce will walk
     over it often and "sit" on it occasionally
Oct 22 photos of low, round placeboard in the yard to remote sit on, the shape,   
     geometry allows sitting and facing anywhere have the same "feel/look”
            note; put the round and rectangular boards out for the morning session.
                     she was comfortable walking over and sitting, did one retrieve off
                     each from a remote sit (at the end of her short checkcord)

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Nov 18 trained in the morning indoor pool room deck...put out placeboards
            note: walking over and sitting on place boards (retrieving off one, too)

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   "place" training board

Nov 19 since she has "taken" to the placeboards, sitting on and being released
       from them will be a regular part of her indoor sessions (with eventually
       working remotely off them)
Nov 22 placeboards are in her future and Pounce is already comfortable
      getting up on one and sitting, I do say "place" when she does so and it is  
      well imprinted so that she doesn't mind sitting (I have four different looking
      placeboards around the pool deck (square, round (big, small and elevated)
Nov 24 doing five minute "session" right after airing - quick, excellent session,
      then in the afternoon Pounce went through entire routine with a new
      expectation, left her on a place board and walked away to throw a bumper
      down the far side, Pounce's sit was solid and erect with total focus on where
      the bumper went, she never even glanced at me as I walked away or on the
      way back, picked up the lead in reinforced sit a few times then returned to
      the line to stand beside her.....Pounce's eyes NEVER left the stare at where
      the bumper fell behind the small jump and released on command bringing
      the bumper right back , repeated with the change of tossing a bouncing,
      rolling bumper short and in full view = same steady, stare and release. This
      is exciting "stuff" from a very young pup with a "wild streak lurking" within Nov 27 going to and sitting on close-by placeboards on command
Nov 30 first time outdoors - remote sit retrieving off a placeboard

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Mar 4 (2015) still training indoors using a placeboard and rubber mat

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                                "mat & placeboard"
        "pup added"

Mar 11 continued yard work outside using a place board

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                                      Pounce & "Steadiness" (link)

April 9 did several short "stand alone" with "send back" singles
     note: continuing dog hide imprint - discovering" kibbles inside (daily)

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                 "eight singles"
          "reverse view"
"stand alone line"

 April 10 started daily yard work on "casting" to elevated placeboard
     note: skill required for "send back" marking drills and hunting & need
              many more "reps" (
and better visibility)

journal excerpts:
continue chaining "back/place" command and re-enforce with low level
     collar, verbal "good" &  next "reward" bumper (eventually add "whistle sit")
                note: bumper is tossed back over my head and Pounce runs
                         past me for the retrieve, delivery is taken several yards
                         from platform/placeboard (reps on delivery a bonus) and
                         cast from there.....not moving back more than 5-10 yards
                         for awhile (very gradually increase distance) and use the
                         "solid" yard distance in the field on "solo" training per
                         where she is at in the yard (while this is being taught)
                         no hurry = need this to be a solid skill (not "kind of"), she's
                         young, no rush and didn't make this into a big deal (even
                         though it is)
note: my 4 previous Labs were taught "send back" expectations
                         AFTER they were well into transition...my "cavalier" attempt
                         to use "send backs" with Pounce before transition was
                         flawed...a "Duh" moment
, therefore, the yard work sessions
- teach not expect

note: it would be more accurate to describe this session as "yard
                         fun" rather than work...upbeat, fast, animated and exciting

 note: stay at this distance in the yard (and in the field) for ten
                         sessions (each location) before very gradually increasing
                         the distance (repetitions & no testing) - this must be solid
                note: many, many consistent, fun "reps" create an expectation
                         that is actually an automatic reflex (action)

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                                      "yard work"    
       "more visible"

                                      there is more to this entry

evening repeated morning session, continued chaining "back/place"
     command and re-enforced with low level collar, verbal "good" and the next
     "reward" bumper - 1st run after a "drive engagement", Pounce runs straight
     to the elevated placeboard, wheels around and sits....looks straight at me
     and said,
"I got this now. You showed me it this morning." She "wheeled off"
     eight straight sends from fifteen yards with really nice wheel and sit  
     deliveries.....session over .

                 note: another one of those, "That went well sessions!"   
                 note: In a recent conversation with a trainer well versed in
                          Hillmann's program, part of the discussion about training
                          dealt with the difference in learning when a dog is in prey
                          drive vs. defense mode......prey drive training promotes
                          being responsive and being able to think when excited.

                          This morning Pounce was responsive and wanted to learn.
                          She was more receptive and learned quickly because
                          it was fun and rewarding. She tries and works with me.
                          The contrast between the "I love to work...what's next?"
                          pup and one that wonders "What are you going to make
                          me do next?" is striking.

                          The above is a summary of what was discussed in terms
                          of training philosophies. Essentially, the key contrast was
                          teaching, learning and functioning in "prey drive" vs.
                          "defense mode".
April 11
morning repeated yesterday's "send back" lesson and extended the
     distance a few yards, good session with bonus distractions = barking  "yap"
     dog across the road and a dog walker down the road next to where we were
     working - this session plus  all the "heel/delivery reps" are beginning to
     produce a quality expectation AND she is having fun
                note: each time any drill is "worked", the skills taught prior to
                         teaching something new are repeated (over and over)
                         and even more automatic - skill development is a steady
                         process which builds a strong foundation
                         key concept - teach new "stuff" only when the required
                         old" skills necessary to "pull it off" are in place
                         key question before starting - What does my pup need to
                         do well before we begin working/teaching this new skill?
afternoon Pounce ran two Y-drills - orange bumpers Roscoe
             Riverside Park DTA, the first was at 55 yards...then moved wingers
             diagonally and slightly longer to 65 yards from the line (range finder)
                 note: Pounce jumped on each single - no issues
                 note: did the "van to the line" routine both times
                 note: had a few distractions (hikers with dogs....which was good)    
                 note: used large holding blind at the line                
April 12
morning repeated "send back" session with Pounce retrieving
             bumpers thrown behind me after each send back, dropped the
             chained "back"  command and now just using "place" - she gets it
             (pretty rapid leaning and very cool)....then finished the drill by
             throwing two left and two right angle backs.....she is a "quick study"
             and did super with those......deliveries are getting closer and closer
             to a consistent right or left side heel with no "run byes"                

April 19 began extending the time that Pounce stays in the down position
             (and using the “down” command), she is also in the process of learning
             the “whoa” command
April 20 Pounce's "send back" skills for "solo" marking sessions are in place
             and distance is being extended

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     Pounce singles
     (70 - 122 yards)
    Pounce singles
     (80 - 113 yards)

April 23                        Pounce & "Steadiness" (link)

April 24 (2015) Pounce ran her 1st ABC drill with "send backs"

Pounce's 1st ABC Marking Session (YouTube link)

April 28 dog hide routine is now in place "waaaay" before hunting season late
     evening the last three weeks after the last airing of the day Pounce has
     been "playing around" with the three commands, "down", "whoa" plus
     "kennel" for the Avery Ultra Low Dog hide note: it all came together this
     evening - Pounce was in the hide on "kennel" and "down", a bumper was
     tossed and she remained in the hide, "here"/"heel' brought her out to "sit",
     she was released on "Pounce" & quickly retrieved the bumper........she's
     ready for hunting (well....not really, but this is a key component)
            note: it started with treats, progressed to commands and was never
                     learned by applying any pressure....just kept each session "up
                     beat", exciting and fun
            note: there were many days that I would just plant a treat for her to
                    discover, every day she would run to the hide to search......it
                    became an obsession which gradually transformed into an
April 29 around noon Pounce went out to air, when returning she visited her
     dog hide (conveniently left in sight), soon she was inside and laying down
     "giving me the eye" to toss a short bumper. when it landed she stared at it
     without moving, "here/heel" quickly had her up, out and into the ready
     position, steady & stable......a very cool sequence for this duck hunter
May 2 morning up early and Pounce first did a seven bumper Zig-Zag lining
    drill in the yard, then the Avery Ultra Low Dog hide was taken out (first time
    outside) and Pounce ran three short singles out of it, the last with a short,
    flopping Dokken  
            note: expectations 1) enter on "kennel/place" command (two words
                     (for now), 2) laying "down" (command) inside looking out, 3)
                     watching for the "big event" when it finally "appears", 4) a
                     delayed exit cued by the "here & heel" commands to a position
                     clearly off the line to the fall, 5) settle into the retrieving position,
                     6) wait, look out and "collect" the moment for at least ten seconds,
                     7) released on "Pounce" and 8) delivery then rinse and repeat
            note: #4 is significant when first teaching this skill because it "intercepts"
                     forward momentum, the dog is NOT allowed to move straight
                     ahead on a line with the fall 1) when hunting it is highly unlikely I
                     will be in front of where my dog is hidden) 2) it immediately
                     establishes who is in charge (control), 3) it enhances esponsiveness
                     and 4) it emphasizes that the line is not a "launching pad"
foot note: This is an adaptation of Pat Nolan's approach and "dovetails"
                            nicely with the Hillmann philosophy.

          In essence, I refuse to become a potted plant.

          multi-rationale= 1) steady, 2) waiting patiently while in a high
          state of excitement, 3) the hide is NOT a "launching pad", 4)
          focus, control and responsiveness come BEFORE any reward
          and 5) practice, repetition & consistency produce multifaceted,
          automatic reflexes.......pup oozes "This is what I do because it
          Is all I know how to do."

May 6 "after a break" Pounce ran a basic Y-Drill with orange bumpers at 75 yards  
     in the "stand alone/send back" mode,  she understands the "place" command
     and returns to the line with vigor...as we left the van she just ran out to the
     placeboard, turned around & sat without me even asking her to......looked at
     me and said "I'm ready"
May 8 Pounce came out and ran a set of "send back" singles with a mallard (65
      to 85 yards)....ankle high grass with one single (of the six) thrown over a
      gravel drive falling "out of sight" on the other side (never hesitated & flew
      right over the gravel to pick up the mallard)
May 9 did a set of seven, "stand alone", send back singles with a mallard to put
      a very different & exciting end/spin to further negate today's morning session,
      used the inlet ditch to the square pond which is about 15+ yards wide and
      provides angle entry/exit exposure to singles thrown on one side with the
      remote line on the other....perfect start for a pup, there is mowed grass
      on either side and the ditch has had no time to shoot up the normal five foot
      high grass so there is excellent straight line visibility when crossing, Pounce
      seemed excited about the "send back" expectation and zipped back to the
      line on the "place" command almost as fast as her retrieves. ducks are
      really exciting

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                                Saturday's singles
         "The Ditch"

May 10 afternoon Pounce ran nine singles in the reverse direction across the
     ditch used in yesterday's session and worked at manipulating the squaring
     tendency most pup's exhibit
             note: by moving left & in the pup learns squaring isn't close to the
                      direction of subsequent singles which translates to a learned
                      expectation of "marking.......not lining" (this is an assumption)
             note: the last two singles were right in the reeds at the shoreline and
                      about fifteen 15 yards out in the water
             note: Pounce's first duck mark from water

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                                 Sunday's - 1st two
 Sunday's - last seven

May 14 set up the "hide, toss Dokken, "here/heel" and "fetch" on Pounce! drill
             note: see banner above
             note: worked on this extensively during the winter, did a brief outside
                      intro a few days ago and she was really good at it this morning,
                      several "tosses" I picked up and she had no issues coming to heel
                      first out of the hide before retrieving
             note: focused, responsive and in control with a great deal of drive.......
                      when released to retrieve

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                      "at ease"
     "The Setup"

     "Place" and "Send Backs" are now established training and hunting skills.
              (both skills were developed proactively in a seamless process)   

       Pounce is now almost 12 months old. This all began when she was eight
       weeks old. We trained "regularly" (several months).