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Guest Blog Post: Q&A with Mike Lardy

Last week, I hosted Mike Lardy for the first webinar in our Expert Insights Forum. We had a great discussion on "Teaching Advanced Marking Concepts". After the webinar, we received a few follow-up questions. See Mike's answers below.

Our next webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5th with Danny Farmer!

- Pat

Thanks, Pat, for hosting this webinar series. During our conversation, I made several references to articles I've written for the Retriever Journal. You can find those article collections at As promised, you can use coupon code WEBINAR20 to get 20% off any of my regularly-priced products until March 31st.

- Mike

Below are some follow-up questions we received:

Q: When running retired singles within a set-up, are you using the Ontario 10 Step, or just throwing/retiring?

A: You can do it both ways, but if I want to run a classic tight short-retired gun setup I generally won’t do a ten-step. But I do like to set up a pretty wide open triple, run as singles, with two ten-steps. I think we did this at the first Lardy/Farmer seminar. For younger dogs especially, you don’t want a tight set-up because you are practicing at influencing a dog towards the fall and away from the blind after the gun retires, but that’s difficult when there is a tight visible gun near-by. Secondly, you want the dog to have some freedom to hunt aggressively and having a near-by old fall could lead to a failure you’re not looking for.

The best ten-step situation is where you have some feature that really makes recovering the bird difficult such as a downhill throw into cover or a hen pheasant thrown into a ditch, and you’ve got to have a wind that doesn’t give it away.

Q: How often do you run ABC and/or other marking drills compared to set-ups?

A: Not often enough! Every time I run an ABC Drill, Y-drill, or ten-step I wonder why I haven’t done it more. Instead of thinking about an absolute number, think about what your particular dog needs. ABC drills develop comfort on tight lines, improve focus on marks by learning to ignore all the other guns, and can help develop confident pin point marking .I’ve also seen it where overdoing ABC drills caused dogs to become too relaxed about going through old falls. Y-drills are mostly designed to improve hunt patterns. Ten-steps primarily develop confidence in hunting short retired guns and also encourage a dog to hunt away from the gun. I’ve seen daily Y drills really help hunt patterns and they can be a stress reliever as well. So once again, no recipe here- you’ve got to read how your dog reacts to these drills and react accordingly.

Q: What is the best use of a flat, factorless field for training the all-age dog?

A: In Wisconsin, for years I had access to a 30 acre field that was higher in the corners but basically flat and featureless. I loved it! I could work on just about any configurational training concept without worrying about whether the cover or terrain dictated that I throw a mark some particular direction. For example, I could work on a simple indented triple requiring secondary selection where the only real training issue was “get the short mark next."

Q: In training, do you balance "tough" tests (consisting of concepts + factors) with simple, factorless set-ups? Does this keep marking sharp or improve attitudes?

A: For an all-age dog, I pretty much always look for “factor-fighting” marks, but I will often run them in a simplified manner such as running singles. I think the balance comes from how often you run retired memory birds on the one hand, or unretired singles at the other end of the spectrum of difficulty. Now for a dog just out of the transition I love to reduce the factors as I described in the previous question so I can work on fundamental concepts.


Upcoming Events Danny Farmer & Pat Burns Game Day Handling Strategies April 5th, 2022 | 7:30 pm EST *Registration closes 4/2! Mark Your Calendars - Remaining Webinars for 2022! Jim Van Engen | May 18 | Registration opens 4/1 Wayne Curtis | July 13 | Registration opens 6/1 Pat Nolan | August 17 | Registration opens 7/1 Judy Aycock | September 13 | Registration opens 8/1

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