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    Thread: Baby steps...

    1. #1
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      Baby steps...

      I have to keep reminding myself that Ram-Jet-Rocket-dog has only been training in the field for a month. A MONTH! Heretofore, she was either being a puppy, or going to the pro for basics (obedience, force fetch and steadiness for single retrieves) and somewhat more advanced work (stopping on a whistle and handling.) Almost all of this (90% anyway) was done "in the yard". Then came winter.

      In the last month, she has gradually learned that she must:
      1) be quiet in her crate until it's her turn
      2) walk to the holding blind at heel... lay down quietly until it's her turn
      3) Sit quietly on the line until she's sent
      4) Go on a blind, stop on a whistle, and take hand signals.

      And most of this, she's getting better about. UNLESS, that is, there are ducks being thrown out there. (Ducks = Lab-crack.) Then she comes comPLETELY unglued. Today, she did it again. She got corrected and put back in her crate.

      Big sigh...

      But, then I must remind myself that she is the highest high roller I've ever had. Orders of magnitude more horse power than I've ever experienced. I may be looking at another 6 months to a year to get her quiet and self-contained on the line. Who knows?

      But, even so, I saw a glimmer of progress. As the bird was being thrown today, she did not hunker down into "launch position". She actually sat tall and watched the birds go down. And then she fell apart.

      We'll get there. We both are learning a lot about patience.

    2. #2
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      I have to keep reminding myself that Ram-Jet-Rocket-dog has only been training in the field for a month. A MONTH! Heretofore, she was either being a puppy, or going to the pro for basics (obedience, force fetch and steadiness for single retrieves) and somewhat more advanced work (stopping on a whistle and handling.) Almost all of this (90% anyway) was done "in the yard". Then came winter.

      In the last month, she has gradually learned that she must:
      1) be quiet in her crate until it's her turn
      2) walk to the holding blind at heel... lay down quietly until it's her turn
      3) Sit quietly on the line until she's sent
      4) Go on a blind, stop on a whistle, and take hand signals.

      And most of this, she's getting better about. UNLESS, that is, there are ducks being thrown out there. (Ducks = Lab-crack.) Then she comes comPLETELY unglued. Today, she did it again. She got corrected and put back in her crate.

      Big sigh...

      But, then I must remind myself that she is the highest high roller I've ever had. Orders of magnitude more horse power than I've ever experienced. I may be looking at another 6 months to a year to get her quiet and self-contained on the line. Who knows?

      But, even so, I saw a glimmer of progress. As the bird was being thrown today, she did not hunker down into "launch position". She actually sat tall and watched the birds go down. And then she fell apart.

      We'll get there. We both are learning a lot about patience.
      I'm glad you're seeing progress and that you don't expect things to happen overnight. Six months to a year is NOTHING! And your dog is just a baby. If you think about on-boarding at a new job, it really takes a year to get up to speed, so why would it be any different for a dog? In the world of obedience the popular age for experienced obedience folks to compete in novice is four years old, and these pups are consistently in classes and private lessons starting at ten weeks of age, and are going to matches and seminars starting usually by the time they are six months.

      The group I sometimes take field lessons with does not do obedience and they all have well-bred field dogs (Labs, poodles, and a golden). Their dogs are doing awful so they all just slap e-collars on them. I got a friend involved who has been doing obedience for a few years. She has only competed to novice, but trained through utility. The dog has stress issues (adult rescue, came that way) so she does not show him any longer. He has a trained retrieve (no e-collar, no forced fetch), heel, recall, etc. The only thing she had to do was let her dog know that it was OK to pick up a bird because that was new to him. She hasn't had to train him in the field at all. He even does doubles without training. He is a field Lab and so, like your dog, there is some over-excitement with the birds, but he has a proofed stay, so it's just noise (whining).

      It's so much easier and way more fun to go slow and proof your dog. It sure makes participating in different sports fun because with obedience work, you always have a good baseline. Field work has been so much easier for us than anyone else in my class (the young dogs are all under two) because of our obedience background. I'm not saying he is perfect, but we definitely have fewer problems, and way more fun, and are the only ones out of the young dogs even ready for the WC this Spring. Besides my obedience friend, we are also the only ones without an e-collar or a forced fetch.

    3. #3
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      Formal Basics takes, on average, six months, and usually begins when the pup is six months old. Here is what it looks like.

      The components of Basics in order

      1) “Here”
      2) “Heel & Sit”
      3) “Hold”; automatically evolves to Walking “Hold, Heel, Sit”
      4) “Fetch”; ear pinch, which evolves into Walking “Fetch” & “Fetch-no-fetch”, e-collar conditioning to “Fetch”
      5) Pile work, including Mini-pile, Nine bumper pile; AKA Force to pile
      6) 3-handed casting; teaching the 3 basic casts – “Back” and both “Over’s”, including 2-hands “Back”
      7) Mini tee; includes collar conditioning to all basic commands, transferring to the go, stop, cast functions in micro dimension as preparation for the Single tee. Also includes De-bolting
      8 ) Single tee
      9) Double tee
      10) Water tee with Swim-by

      Your dog will have been fully e-collar conditioned, and obedient in all conditions, including strong distractions and diversions. This prepares the dog for advancement in fieldwork, and provides you with all the tools to promote and maintain the highest standards of work over his entire working career. Anyone who has not thoroughly taught the dog in fundamental commands before just "throwing an e-collar on them" is an abusive ignorant individual. There is no excuse for that kind of thing, especially in this the information age where sound methodology is so widely available. As the old ball player Dizzy Dean once said, "It's easy when you know how." In today's dog training world learning how is the easiest it's ever been.

      EvanG

    4. #4
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      Thank you Evan. I was also disturbed by the "slap an e-collar on them" comment. If this was allowed by someone giving lessons in field work I would be dubious of their knowledge. Obedience taught in yard work is extremely important and an e-collar is not the answer for a dog that has not been taught. E-collars are not a teaching tool and a dog must be collar conditioned and taught before an e-collar can be effectively used for a training aid.

      I too have a fireball and she was properly collar conditioned last summer. Over the winter we worked on obedience and line manners. The pro I used told me the best method of correction for breaking was not to allow her to make the retrieve, which she lives for. We are just getting back into outdoor training as most of our snow is gone. We still have the swim-by to complete but that will be at least a month away. In the mean time we will work on the progression to cold blinds, cheating singles, simple retired guns, poison birds and drill work. Should keep us busy till the water warms up.

    5. #5
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      I just wanted to tell everyone, as a novice owner of an intense 7 month old field lab, how much I am learning from all of you and how grateful I am to be able to follow your conversations and message threads. I admit up front that I have no idea what I am doing with Ellie, so it means a great deal to me to hear your training stories. Your recounted experiences give me a much clearer picture of the time, energy, patience, commitment, and perseverance required to develop and train a happy, well adjusted, working field lab. I hope that one day I can join into the conversation with Ellie, but for now, I just wanted to thank everyone!
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      The Belly Monster!

    6. #6
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      May I suggest looking into a solid proven retriever training program directed specifically toward fieldwork? There are several good ones that are current in methodology, sequential, and easy to follow. Most of the old materials are still out there, but are not as effective or efficient.

      EvanG

    7. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by Anna Scott View Post
      Thank you Evan. I was also disturbed by the "slap an e-collar on them" comment. If this was allowed by someone giving lessons in field work I would be dubious of their knowledge. Obedience taught in yard work is extremely important and an e-collar is not the answer for a dog that has not been taught. E-collars are not a teaching tool and a dog must be collar conditioned and taught before an e-collar can be effectively used for a training aid.

      I too have a fireball and she was properly collar conditioned last summer. Over the winter we worked on obedience and line manners. The pro I used told me the best method of correction for breaking was not to allow her to make the retrieve, which she lives for. We are just getting back into outdoor training as most of our snow is gone. We still have the swim-by to complete but that will be at least a month away. In the mean time we will work on the progression to cold blinds, cheating singles, simple retired guns, poison birds and drill work. Should keep us busy till the water warms up.
      This is exactly where Ram-Jet-Rocket-Dog is in the program. It is still too cold to do swim-by. Last fall when we did water force, she was still doing puppy-stroke. Sounds like we are experiencing much the same thing. As far as the line manners go... yes, we are basically correcting her by not letting her get the retrieve. And it KILLS her. It's the thing she wants the most. She wants it more than she wants oxygen. I know she is a very bright young dog and eventually she will make the connection... "when I'm quiet, they'll send me for the bird."

      The feeling with this dog is that if we give her an inch, she'll (eventually) take a mile. We want to stop vocalization on line and any, any, any creeping. And now that I think about it, she really has been much better on the creeping. She is not "front-ending" me like she was a month ago. But oh, my... happy feet and whining.

      Is this what your dog does to get put in the penalty box?

    8. #8
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      Yes, that's pretty typical. But don't ignore it. Do you have a heeling stick?

      EvanG

    9. #9
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      Absolutely, Evan. I just put the tab collar on her and "reprimand" her with the heeling "device" while saying "QUIET, QUIET, QUIET" and up in the truck she goes. No stim on the collar.

      Her pedigree suggests she will eventually be a superb marking dog. I so wish we could work on marking drills. That would be so satisfying. But if we can't get an alert, quiet dog that moves on line with me... the rest is irrelevant.

      She pulled off a nice little puppy water blind today (haven't done swim-by, so it was very simple). She hits the water like a ton of bricks, I got two nice handles. BUT, the line for the land blind was very near the duck drying rack. (In retrospect...) Anyhow, she completely lost her mind, wanted to grab a duck, couldn't heel-here with me, the rest was quite forgettable.

    10. #10
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      I sometimes forget that the young one is only 14 months old until I reflect on the days training. My old girl is like sitting in a rocking chair, every step of the way is so smooth. The young one is like the injector seat of a jet plane, you better be in control or you're in trouble. The heeling stick is always with me when we are training. Right now a light tap helps to reinforce the don't break message. Training in the horse arena means the marks are real short and real tempting. Yesterday we threw a double poison bird with a blind between. Once the blind was picked up we used secondary selection to pick up the marks and threw a bulldog on the return from the second mark. We reran the blind before picking up the bulldog. I am hoping that we can train outdoors tomorrow so that I stretch the marks out again. Our snow just doesn't seem to want to leave and we are still in negative number temperatures.
      Do you keep notes on each training session?

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