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Theming Concepts Across Set-Ups

Repeating a concept over the course of multiple set-ups and days is a great way to teach your dog how to deal with specific challenges. Below is a recent example from Day School training.

When I plan a day of training, the first thing I do before I leave the house is look up the predicted wind direction and velocity. The second thing I do is pull up google earth for the grounds that I will be training on. Next, I reflect on what concept or theme I'd like to focus on. I do all of this before I finish my first cup of coffee in the morning.

Here's an example of 2 recent set-ups from Day School

On this particular day, I chose to emphasize long retired guns with terrain, cover and crosswind factors.

Set-Up #1 - Land Triple

- The middle-retired gun was 200 yards off the backside of the flyer. It was thrown to the right and was about 50 yards deep of the flyer.

- The long-retired gun was thrown in the opposite direction and was about 325 yards long.

There are a few of the key factors to this test:

- It is not obvious in the photo, but the terrain on both the flyer and the middle-retired gun falls off to the right. '

- On the middle mark there is a thicker patch of broom grass that the dogs had to negotiate. - The long-retired mark is thrown left and into the wind.

On the first 2 birds the dogs would retrieve, they hunted on the downwind side of the gun stations. On the long-retired gun they needed to stay on the upwind side of the gun station.

The long bird was a big throw and was angled back. Between the angle of the throw, the crosswind and a fairly large gap between the middle and the long bird many dogs had difficulty staying on the correct side of the left-hand bird. The large angle back throw didn’t allow the dogs to wind the bird if they hunted where the gun had stood. Their tendency after hunting the previous birds on the downwind side was to drift to the right and setup a substantial hunt.

As always discipline around a live flyer station is a major factor. Some of the dogs hunted short on the middle bird and were attracted to the flyer station.

The 50 yards of distance between the flyer and the middle bird was just enough to make it challenging for the dogs to leave the backside of the flyer. Some dogs hunted their way back into the flyer station and were corrected.

Our standard on the left-hand mark is that the dogs had to stay on the left side of the holding blind. If they made it that far and then hunted to the right, we let them sort it out.

Set-Up #2 - Double Land Blind with Poison Bird

On our 2nd set-up, I chose to repeat the factors that made the marks so challenging. In this double blind with a poison bird, I ran from behind the mound that we just ran the marks from. I used the right corner of the mound to tempt them to go to the right and towards the poison bird.

Each retrieve, starting with the flyer and ending up with the long land blind, were progressively more crosswind. Addressing a factor like a crosswind and repeating the concept over the course of 2 setups is a great way to teach dogs deal with this challenge. Between the poison bird, the previous set of marks, the angle coming off the mound, the progressively long distances and the crosswind I felt that we thoroughly covered that day’s lesson. When you chain together multiple days like this emphasizing like challenges, you are on your way to advancing your dog towards a legitimate all-age competitor.


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