Three Days for Test Dogs

  This is the journal entry for two days of training followed by a Seasoned HRC hunt test. After running the test, I can determine 1) what the dogs need work on and 2) devise a plan to create a more positive performance on tests. Daisy and Kooly need less in the actual retrieving and more in the focus and responsiveness areas. In the future, two days before a test (and maybe more) will be quite different than these.  We need to improve marking off the gun, reduce excitement levels (or at least develop the skills to deal with them) and raise the heel/sit standards in the face of great distractions while off lead or with no e-collar. Basically this means creating more situations in training where control standards can be
more meaningfully enforced and routine mechanics of the test will be better defined.

The issue becomes "Where do I want the dog's mind at when coming to the line at a test?" The level of excitement in training is not the same as at a test. If the dog is "on the edge" in training, he/she may go over when testing. A high drive dog must especially understand and accept the concepts of control and responsiveness.  The routines were close, but the control factors were lacking.     

June 14 (morning) trained alone at BT's hay field- ran an HRC double with a diversion followed by
              a cold blind using ducks, remote wingers, bolding blind, bucket, popper gun and a duck call
              memory right, go bird left, diversion on return from memory & finished with "shot" cold blind
              (late morning) drove to the Square Pond and ran four short cold blinds with ducks
                     note: both Kooly and Daisy did fine with the HRC double and their blinds, Kooly needs
                              same maintenance on scalloping, he ran an extra cold blind parallel to the shore
  (left click on thumbnails)  
           left - "go bird" & blind
         right - memory & diversion
           four cold blinds
              HRC Seasoned set-up - double,  diversion and blind                             + Kooly's extra

 une 15 (morning) trained at Steve G's - new pond up by Monroe, WI = ran a Seasoned HRC set-up
             walk-up, double with a diversion followed by a cold blind using popper gun, holding blind,
             duck calling, HRC bucket, remote wingers and ducks (trained alone)
                    note: The blind was much longer than 60 yards (which is the HRC Seasoned test limit).
                    note: Daisy did very well with the whole set-up (just a little excited on the long walk-up)
                    note: Kooly's only problem was the loud "yip" he gave leaving for the go bird, good
                             "mo" on his blind, need to remember to make him wait longer on the cast when
                             it appears Kooly has "selected" the wrong target.........If I don't wait, he doesn't
                             get off this tunnel vision (a little wait and he is more likely to change). 
 (left click on thumbnails)  

                                                                     HRC Walk-up                  
         Simulated HRC
         Seasoned Test

 June 16 up early and left at 5:00 am for Horicon Marsh HRC's hunt test - Daisy and Kooly ran the first
             KwickLabs hunt tests since last July (when Kooly ran an AKC senior test).
                     note: Daisy passed and looked mostly good. In the land series, after the walk-up (which
                              she did well on), I decided to proceed off lead to the line because I needed to see
                              just where she was at. We need more work there.
   On the double, she didn't
                              swing with the gun, but heard the winger go off. She pivoted her head to see the
                              fall. I released her and she veered back to what was supposed to be the memory
                              bird. She picked it up. Daisy was looking straight at the go bird and change her
                              mind right after getting released. She lied to me.
 After picking up the second
                              bird on a little hunt, she ran the blind. Daisy looked really sharp on the blind. So
                              far, things were better than OK.

                              The water series went really well (took her to the line on lead). This part of the
                              test was a double with two very wide, "cheaty" marks (except the cheat was
                              eliminated by a 6 foot wall of high cover), a diversion duck was tossed fairly clear
                              of the return line and finished with a blind "up the middle". With the shape of the
                              pond there was no other alternative. Daisy locked on the memory bird and did not
                              (would not) swing over to the "go bird". She did flinch a bit with the splash. I put
                              the gun in the rack after saying out loud "open & on" . Daisy was asked to heel
                              facing what was suppose to be the "go bird" (which she probably didn't see.....just
).  After letting her settle, I cued her with "get your mark". When she
                              leaned forward a bit, I cued her with a "good", dropped my hand and waited. I said
                              "Daisy" and she flew into the water....taking a perfect line to the duck. Did she see
                              it? I'm not too sure she did, but then proof. Going on the principle of
                              always trying to put your dog in a position to succeed, this turned out to be the
                              right choice. 

                              Afterwards one of the judges said, "She didn't mark that bird."  I replied (with a
                              wry smile),  "She must have gotten a glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye."
                              We all had a good chuckle at that. The other judge said , "I thought you were
                              going to say "back" (after I lined her up). I replied, "It was a mark. She did hear the
                              splash."  The other judge finally added (while smiling), "Well, we can't say she
                              didn't mark it in our notes, but we all know you'll be addressing that issue come
                              Monday morning training." It was a rather hilarious exchange on a common issue
                              when judging.
                              She again ran a great blind. At first from the left side, she kept looking back at the
                              fall area of the "go bird", So I "no/here/heeled" her to the left side heel (which she
                              did crisply).  This allowed me to block the view of the "go bird" fall area, and she
                              then proceeded to get a good cold blind "lock". She ran a great blind with a very
                              nice angle back cast.
                              Daisy passed her first hunt test and got a Seasoned ribbon. 
   I was very happy
                              with her.
  And yes, starting Monday morning, I know what we'll be working on.  

                     note: Kooly has not run a test since last July, when he "blew up" on an AKC Senior water
                              series. We've been working on his line manners and especially the vocalization
                              issues. I thought he was ready and that since you can talk quietly to your dog at
                              the line in HRC, he'd be OK. Well, he wasn't.
 In the land walk-up, he vocalized
                              when asked to re-heel.  He was pretty much to the bucket before I was and a real
                              handful for the double. He ran a great blind. Decided to let him run the water to
                              see just how bad he was and how much more work we needed to do. Kooly crept
                              on the memory bird and just barely re-heeled soon enough to see the "go bird". He
                              was a bit whinny on the re-heel. Kooly then  proceeded to pick everything up
                              cleanly. We had no problems with the diversion.

                              Marking is absolutely no issue, and he has an excellent memory. His "mo" was way
                              better than in training. He took a perfect angle back cast to the blind. The judges
                              were impressed with his blind, but not overly thrilled with his manners. 
                              passed, got a ribbon and he will not run again for at least a month. Can you say
                              back to the drawing board? This type of performance will not come close to
                              cutting it in Finished. 

: It was a very hot day for the test (near 90F). However, the high tech Solar Tarps
                              really worked well. The dogs and I were comfortable in the van. The high volume
                              fans added a breeze, and finally, some cloud cover late in the test provided relief. 
                              I could not help but notice how similar the land and water training set-ups from the
                              previous two days of training mirrored the HRC test's land and water series. This
                              gave a very good read on the mental differences.
 (left click on thumbnails)  

      Chris D. & "Maddie"
     before land walk-up
           Horicon Marsh
           HRC (WI)
      Seasoned water 
                 high tech solar
           Kool Kwick Van

                        I had a lot of fun this weekend, and totally enjoyed running both dogs.  The next test won't be
                        for about one month. These are two very nice dogs that are fun to work with because they
                        are talented and challenging. When you sit back and look at the whole is all
                        about the journey. This was a short story in a long trip.