Pat’s Perspective on Land Tune-Up Drills

After completing my first two workshops of the spring up north, I am reminded of the adage “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

 Everyone in both groups, including me, had hoped to take advantage of the great training water in both Michigan and New York.  Mother Nature had a different plan.  The temperature struggled to get out of the forties.  This, combined with cold rain, caused me to nix all plans for water work. 

Upon reflection, I believe plan B turned out to be more valuable!

The decision was made to invest four consecutive days on a Land Tune-Up Drill; it’s not one I take lightly.  In the past, I have never regretted taking the time to complete a detailed Tune-Up Drill.  This time was no exception.  While working at Handjem Retrievers, we always planned a Land Tune-up for the beginning of spring training.  The training concepts reviewed and the lessons learned during this drill are all ones commonly encountered throughout the year. 

I am going to repeat a few details from a previous article I wrote regarding Tune-Up Drills:

·      “The basic purpose of a tune-up drill is to help dogs get comfortable with the difficult geometry of running straight lines in challenging situations.  Tune-up drills help give dog and handler confidence in working together, and if done right, dogs learn to relax around areas they may have had problems with in the past”. 

This drill should be repeated for a minimum of three and a maximum of five days. Do not be in a hurry to use much pressure. Too many corrections will be counter -productive.  The power in this drill is in the repetition, not the corrections.

During the workshops in Michigan and New York, we repeated the Land Tune-Up Drill for four days. In all cases, both the dogs and the handlers greatly improved over the course of the four days.  We took advantage of the unique factors that both properties offered.  We included mounds, brush piles, gun stations, key holes, stone walls, roads, tight crisscrossing lines and used remote casts.  It took each dog between 15 and 20 minutes to complete the series of eight blinds.  The concentration required to maintain focus for both dog and handler was an additional challenge. The increased level of communication became obvious in the marking setups we did after completing the morning tune-up session.  If we had warmer weather, we might not have been able to complete all of the blinds.  So, the colder temps turned out to be an advantage.

I have included a photo album titled “Millbrook Land Tune-Up”.

You will see both an aerial and ground view diagram of last week’s land tune-up.  Also included are ground views of all eight blinds.

Without a doubt, incorporating Land Tune-Up Drills in your training will greatly enhance your team’s performance.  Realistically, we may do two tune-up drills of this nature over the course of a year.  This is not something to be overdone.  Those training for hunt tests or field trials will benefit from this drill.  

I hope this has been both entertaining and educational.  Until next time…

Pat Burns