Kooly at 6 months old holding some "Kwick Bumpers"
                                                          since May, 2004
*
              
NFC AFC Dewey's Drake of Moon River X Maxine's Midnight Pursuit JH (Lean Mac)

               

            
                   Remote Hold - "off-set" bumper
   

    
               Kooly during last "walking fetch" 5/25/04

                  Excerpt from Kooly's training log on May 26, 2004*, he was a bit over 6 months old when the new
                  bumper idea was introduced.
                          
 *started stick fetch today - excellent session and "off-set' dummies worked super!
   
       
* note: This Kwick idea was developed  TWO years before an article appeared in 
                               
The Retriever Journal
  (Apr./May 2006 issue) about "cigaring". 
                   
     Now that I'm a bit more comfortable with FF, I decided to watch Kooly closely to study the "cigaring" habit
     (if it came up).  This was a preplanned experiment which required a collection of observations as data. 

         Data/observations:
     1) when Kooly drove hard for a dummy - usually no cigar
     2) when either screwing around or anxiously avoiding the proper response to a pinch, he more than likely
         ended up with an end
     3) when in tall grass (4 inches plus) cigaring didn't happen very often
     4) when fetching off the driveway or very short, worn grass - cigaring was almost a certainty

          Analysis:
     1) cigaring is a lazy habit that is enhanced by light bumpers that are difficult to get off the ground when
         a pup is aware that sticking his nose and chin down hard in the middle is uncomfortable
and/or
         avoidance leads away from the middle to the ends (the "end" means I'm doing this under protest)
     2) when the adrenalin is high, he doesn't care how or where it is and grabs the whole thing (in the middle)
                   note: read 2014 edit below

     3) there is very little physical penalty for picking up light-weight objects by the end (when either playing or
         avoiding) correcting after the fact is almost too late (where's the connection?)

          Modifications:
     1) make dummy heavier, but maintain same texture
     2) create a leverage penalty for picking it up by the end and make the "off-set" extra weight cause mouthing
         and rolling the dummy awkward (built in correction)
     3) eliminate one "end" (reduces choice by 50%)
     4) raise the best "grabbing" part (the middle) slightly off the ground making that the easiest place to take hold
         (built in reward)
     5) alternate placing the way the "ends" are facing so the pup picks them up "both" ways (balanced habit)

         Rationale: These will enhance and encourage the good habit of picking dummies up in the middle.

          So, I went to Menard's and bought 3" X 2" PVC reducers. By vertically placing the valve end (rope removed)
          in the 2" opening and pushing down plus squeezing/pinching the "knobs", the dummy slides in for a very
          snug fit.

          Early on (another pup) I spent a bit of time correcting for cigaring, but as from previous threads on this, find
          it one of the those battles some think of little consequence. On the other hand, others see it as a significant
          failure in FF because it may be the precursor to poor mouth habits. It is one of those "pick your poison"
          issues.

          I decided to work on this indirectly by transitioning to the "off-set" dummy idea. We did it as we "went to
          the ground" and during "walking fetch". We will use them all the way through force to the 9 dummy pile.
          After that, I will phase them out going to single T.

            Disclaimer:  I doubt anyone has done this before, but I like what I've seen so far.  May/June, 2004
                 
    November, 2004
            Final analysis:
        1) There is no further need for a disclaimer. 
        2) They indirectly establish good bumper handling habits (without pressure). (observational conclusion)
        3) It will carry over to less mouthing, eliminate rolling problems and enhance good mouth habits. (opinion)
        4) "Cigaring" was very difficult (for Kooly) and essentially avoided.  Whether it is going to affect other pups
            this way only time will tell. It's been six months since this post and there are some (at least one
            pro I know) that have started using them. They think it is a great idea because it works.
        5) Kooly went through force to pile, TT work, swim-by and is presently doing pattern blinds - "cigaring" has
            never been an issue and his bird/bumper handling efforts are excellent

      Update: April, 2005

            Kooly's mouth habits with birds and bumpers are flawless. Bumpers are snatched off the ground, on the
            fly and in the middle. Drop is done politely into my hand and birds are, also, handled with these same
            solid mouth habits.  It is a pleasure to have a pup willingly retrieve and give up birds on command while
            continually handling bumpers in a crisp manner in training. 

            The concept of avoiding bad habits from the beginning is the key.   The alternative is to let the pup pick
            bumpers up the "wrong" way (which they will do) and teach him the correct way.  Why would you do
            that if it weren't necessary?  There are plenty of other skills that require teaching, corrections and
            enforcement.  Most of these skills require bringing back a bumper.  While teaching retrieving concepts,
            there is no need to be worrying about and correcting mouth habits simultaneously, and clean pickups in
            training can be an easily established habit.

      Update: June, 2014

           Recent discussions about the FF phase of "going to the ground" suggest a related behavior described
           in the sections in blue. The nose/chin interaction "to the ground" with a more sensitive pup may be a
           temporary, uncomfortable reaction that must be "worked through".  With a high drive dog, they don't
           care how or where it is and will scoop up a bumper off any surface.

          Conclusion: if the difficulty of "going to the ground" crops up, move to thick, lush grass to simplify.
                             This may aid in making the transition.

                                                            
                                                                              Daisy at 6 months

            new update: Jan, 2006

            Daisy has finished FF and CC. During that time she was using the "Kwick Bumper" for much of her "hold"
            proofing and during the transition to walking fetch. Many marks and all pile drills have been using it as
            a steady diet. After stylish three-legged patterns, regular 2" bumpers (including orange) were introduced
            into a pile drill. Daisy specifically "aims" for the middle of bumpers for a clean pick-up which makes the
            whole process less complicated.  "Cigaring"? What's that? 
  

           

            Update: It's been nine years and three dogs since the “experiment” on “cigaring”. Many threads having
            been started and “hashed over”. Beliefs remain “entrenched” and have changed little. The key rationales
            remain consistent 1) The dog doesn't do it with birds (no big deal), 2) It eventually goes away. 3) You've
            made a mistake in FF and/or 4) This is a pick your battles carefully (no big deal).

            Which brings us to the 2013 update. The surprising question that is never asked about “cigaring” is the
            l ack of discussion of why it happens in the first place. Trainers are always emphasizing how important it
            is to “read” a dog. Yet there is never any attempt to discuss why “end grabbing” happens. It's is ignored
            as a read because of the list previously mentioned. It's just something that may happen and you deal
            with it. Generally it becomes less of an issue.....so why do anything different?

            The original observational data reads as follows.

            Data/observations:
                    1) when Kooly drove hard for a dummy - usually no cigar
                    2) when either screwing around or anxiously avoiding the proper response to a pinch, he more
                        than likely ended up with an end
                    3) when in tall grass (4 inches plus) cigaring didn't happen very often
                    4) when fetching off the driveway or very short, worn grass - 'cigaring' was almost a certainty

           Analysis:
                   1) “cigaring” is a lazy habit that is enhanced by light bumpers that are difficult to get off the
                        ground when a pup is aware that sticking his nose and chin down hard in the middle
                        is uncomfortable and/or avoidance leads away from the middle to the ends (the "end" means
                        I'm doing this under protest)
                    2) when the adrenalin is high, he doesn't care how or where it is and grabs the whole thing (in
                        the middle)
                   3) there is very little physical penalty for picking up light-weight objects by the end (when either
                       playing or avoiding) correcting after the fact is almost too late (where's the connection?)”[/i]

           I would correct the comment in #1 of the analysis. The “lazy habit” should be hanged to “pressure
           response choice”.

           Early on force programs stress the importance of pressure conditioning. Often times there are specific
           behaviors that indicate a pup is responding to pressure poorly (i.e. bugging, lack of intensity, clamming,
           no “goes”/popping). These reads enable the trainer to adjust training to compensate. The skilled trainer
           is more proactive and presents sessions in a sequence where skill building is almost seamless no matter
           what the potential of the pup being trained.

           For example, adding distance too fast for those first long pattern blinds may result in a “banana line”.
           There are various solutions the that which do not involve simplification. The “banana” is said to be a
           sign of too much pressure....so a quick, simple decrease in distance will often make the transition. The
           critical issue here is that the trainer reads it, adjusts.......and it goes away. There is no repetition to
           allow it to become a habit.

          
           Now it there is no “adjustment” there is no effort to deal with the pressure.....other than he will just
           have to work it out himself......which may take more time. The problem is this will temporary impact
           training.

           Transition this to “cigaring” the trainer has two choices deal with it or ignore it. Either way, the pup is
           telling the trainer “I feel pressure right now”. Full speed ahead may not be a wise choice.

                                              The photos below "read" no negative pressure responses.

                                                  
                                                                      Daisy, the puppy, in a pile drill
            
                                                                new update: Kooly in April, 2008 
                                 

                         new update: Gunny in March, 2010 demonstrating the results of using Kwick bumpers             
          
                                                         variation of Carol Cassity's Renegade casting drill

                                
                                                              new update: Daisy's Dokken April, 2010