I am training my lab, Amber, for hunt tests. Amber is the first dog I have ever trained in anything and it is going well.
My quuestion about FTP (Force fetch to pile) is should I always do it as the same routine or should I vary distance and cover as we progress? Do all the bumpers need to be in the same 3 foot circle or can I string them out in a line a couple of feet apart so that the last one would be farther away than the first one? I have been using about 8-10 bumpers per pile and I have also been having her sit on the way in sometimes at different distances from me. Right now I am just working with me on home plat and her going from the pitching mound to second base , I haven't introduced fist and third base yet.
My question on marks is should I run marks over till she gets them right and then not do that same mark again, or should I stop if she has to work a very large area before she finds it? If the person throwing the mark has to help her out should I always rerun that mark?
My Question about Decoys is how do you train a dog to ignore decoys? I had her coming back across a pond and she saw a decoy and droped the dead duck she had and triedd to grab the decoy, I shocked her just as she grabed at the decoy and she then came back to me at the edge of the pond and I had to really fight with her to force her back to the dead duck. She latter did more retrieves back though the same patch of decoys and didn't seem interested or scared of them, is there a way to proof decoys? Did I do the right thing?
Kelly and Amber and Ready
Boy, I don't know about Force To Pile yet, but I can tell you that Monty is a decoy retriever (is that a new breed? Labra-Decoy-Treiver?), too. In fact, I just got a box of 24 plastic mallards (drakes and hens) to float in our pool and scatter about the yard in order to train him to "ignore." If you'd like to borrow a few, I can bring some this next weekend if you'll be there...
~Julie, Rogue, Monty, and Eddy~
"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue." -Anon
Thanks, I am going to be there on Saturday and Sunday. I Also bought a box of the decoys but I just didn't know how to use them to proof Amber. Speaking of which I need to find my copy of the rule book for the Saturday lesson ...I know I have it somewhere....unless Amber ate it...lol
Kellly and Amber and Ready
Welcome to "trainerhood." First of all, two token and obligatory questions: 1) How old is your dog? and 2) what training program/programs are you using?
Sounds like you are kind-of mixing a couple of terms/drills. "Force to pile" is where you have one "back" pile at second base. This drill is done to teach/enforce the "back" command. On this drill, I would not do any "remote sits", either coming or going. You can work "remote sit" in later in your "T" work. You want to increase momentum on both coming and going. The pile is only about 20-30 feet away. FTP is also where you can introduce your right and left hand back. Your dog should rotate in the direction of the hand you send "back" with. This is easy to accomplish. Just simply "cheat" a few steps the direction you want your dog to turn and give the corresponding cast. He will naturally turn the direction you cheated. "Right and Left back" will come into play later as you begin blind retrieve work. Once your pup's momentum is good on FTP, then you can intoduce the over piles (first and third base), which then becomes a drill commonly referred to "3 Handed Casting." These over piles are the same distance as your back pile. Slowly introducing the "right over" first and then the next day introducing the "left over." Make sure to give 2-3 "backs" to each over. We want "back" to be the command that is firmly ingrained because that is the most important. Once 3-handed casting is going smoothly, then it's off to "Double T", which is a "whole 'nother sermon."
I would caution you about repeating marks. Mike Lardy says repeating a failed mark is just setting the dog up for more failure. If it is a concept or factor you are training for, then a repeated mark may be in order. But, there is a reason your pup did not have success on a mark. Try to evaluate why she failed to make that retrieve. Was there too much terrain, too much cover, too much distance, too strong of a crosswind that "blew" her offline? Are there other factors that are involved? Don't be too quick to help your dog on a mark or call her out of an "Area of Fall." Dogs mark with their eyes. When they reach the general area of the mark or "area of fall" (AOF), they will hunt with their eyes and nose. Allow her to hunt the AOF. When I first started, I was under the misconception that a dog should run out and just "step" on every mark. But as I learned from training with more experienced handlers (I'm talking about guys who have dogs that are QAA, MH, GRHRCH titled), they would be very proud of a good "hunt of the AOF" as they would "stepping" on the mark. Also at hunt tests, assisting the judges and being a gunner at the line at HRC events, watching a dog hunt an AOF and hearing the judges comment "Great hunt" taught me that there's more to retrieving a mark that just running out and picking up the bird. Now, if your dog leaves the AOF or takes a bad line and never reaches the AOF, is when you want the birdboy to give a little help by way of "Hey, hey, hey" to get the dogs attention in the field and toss a second bumper or bird to ensure success on the retrieve.
Intro to decoys should be done on land first and under a very controlled environment. Simply spread your decoys out and walk your dog through them on lead to introduce her to them. Allow her to smell and examine them but if she attempts to pick one up, sharply snap the lead and tell her "NO." Once you've zig-zagged your way through them and she's comfortable with them, then return to the line and throw a mark off to either side, where she can make the retrieve without contacting the decoys, but definitely see them. Throw marks to both sides and gradually work your way in until you are throwing marks landing in the middle of the decoys and all the way through them. I would caution you against leaving decoys lying about. Like anything left in my yard, it instantly becomes a "chew toy." The last thing we want is to try to have our dog run a mark through a bunch of "chew toys."
I am not always clear on my explanations, but I hope this helps. Good luck.
Keep a few decoys in your training yard, and pond, and they will start to ignore them very quickly. That is all I ever did.
HRCH Ellie Mae MH CGC
Justlabradors.com -- the best site for your Labrador needs.
Amber is just over 3 years old so she is a bit old to be starting this I know. I am not sure what method I am using I am just teaching by what I see and have heard others doing. I forcefetched her at about 2 years old for Obedience but never could get a drop on recall, with this FTP work I have done she is now understanding that when I say sit or down she has to do it right where she is at. She has tremendous drive and considers walking or trotting a complete waste of time.
She does real well on flat fields with marking. She doesn't seem to understand hills yet and keeps driving up them rather than searching the bottom. On water right now it just seems to be distance but I am stretching that out gradually. Someone just showed me yesterday the whole cast with different arm and dog should spin that way before going back and I can see how that is going to work in the future. I do have some decoys (still in the wrappers) so I can work with making them the taboo objects.
Thanks for all your answers and time it really helps to reasure me and get me going in the right direction.
Kelly and Amber and Ready
Kelly, some things you have said in your post tells me your dog might have potential to be a good hunt test dog. You said she "keeps driving up them instead of hunting at the bottom." You may not realize it, trainers work very hard to get their dogs to hold a line to a mark instead of giving into the hill and running down it. Sidehill marks are very tough because of the terrain factor, and most dogs will give in to the hill, fade down hill and end up loosing the AOF.
Don't worry about distance, that is probably the easiest thing to train for. It will come.
Let me encourage you to do one thing. Purchase Danny Farmer/Judy Aycock's DVD "Basics" and follow their steps in training. It is perfect for beginning handlers/trainers. They use simple terms, fully explain the complexities, and make training/handling where anyone can do it. It will be the best thing you can do for your dog. I also use MIke Lardy's materials as well as Evan Graham's. But for the beginning handler, Farmer/Aycock's is the best. If you do, with the type of dog you have, I'll bet by spring you'll be running Senior/Seasoned tests.
I am amazed at how much Amber has learned in the last two weeks since we started doing field work about 3-4 times a week plus homework. I have the opportunity to enter Amber in two JH tests in 7 weeks and I think I will. The local club is having a practice JH test this Sunday so Amber will be in that and it will hopefully show us what we really need to work on between now and then. The people I am training with are really mad at me because I started training Amber 2 1/2 years too late... They said I should have had her out in the field when she was 6 months old doing marks and such. Well at least I am learning alot now and my next dog will be even better.
Kelly and Amber and Ready
She'll catch up, don't sweat it. Have fun.
I don't feel so bad now about the distance Amber is going on marks. I was worried because I kept having to move up on the marks that the other people I am training with are doing. It turns out the people I train with do field trials and as such are doing 200-300 yard marks and blinds. Amber is doing 150 yard marks on land and 80-100 yard marks on water pretty well.
One nice thing about google earth is that you can measure any distance if you can locate landmarks.
Kelly and Amber and Ready