Improving and correcting on memory birds - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Improving and correcting on memory birds

Hi, okay this topic has always eluded me, maybe we can start a discussion and hear other trainers' thoughts and opinions.
What are the theories on improving and correcting lines to memory birds.
I really have never had a good handle on how to correct and improve memory. I am admittedly cautious about correcting on memory birds (bad lines to memory birds) because you cannot be sure if the dog is being naughty and purposefully messing up or he just plain old doesn't remember it perfect. I typically end up bailing him out by repeating it as a single. Which is sort of like closing the barn door after the horse has left.

I will say also that I VERY RARELY handle on marks. Like, never ever. So I would NOT want to just handle on a flubbed memory bird. That is totally bailing the dog out and the second you blow the whistle the mark is toast. I would much rather recall and make the dog do it himself from the moment I send him until he gets to the bird.

OR I typically avoid the scenario by doing the memory bird first as a single, correcting if needed, then putting it into a multiple and crossing my fingers. I feel that at least in that scenario if the dog messes up the memory bird you are justified in correcting because he's already been there. But my constant dilemma is, by habitually doing memory birds as singles first, are we allowing the dog to become lazy on memory marking, because it's a crutch, or is it a wise choice to maintain confidence? Ack!?

I guess my fear of correcting on a "cold" memory bird is that it will erode the dog's confidence on memory birds. But maybe I'm overanalyzing it and a few well placed corrections will overall improve performance on memory birds.

I will say I only do multiple setups in training, maybe 15-20% of the time. A majority of are marks are singles. That HAS served me well....Bally is a very good marker, knows the rules (cheating, etc) and overall has good memory. Doing mainly singles has allowed him to become very proficient at taking excellent lines, and we really concentrate on line manners and focus. But let's face it, a dog needs to train enough on hard memory birds to become reliable. And you have to have a training plan in place to correct and improve mistakes.

Thoughts and feelings?

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 04:24 PM
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Is the memory mark with a stand-out gunner or retired?
It makes a difference in how I deal with it.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Let's just stick with obvious, stand out gunners at this point. I know retireds are a whole nuther ball of wax, and I've got my hands full enough with standout gunners. Common problems might be backsiding the gun (i.e. even on an open land mark with no competing factors to the memory bird), fading with factors en route (shore, wind, other guns), etc.

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 12:35 PM
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Are you doing the memory bird as a single first? That's how my trainer does it with us. He'll do the set up. We come up and either do both as singles, then as a double. Or, do the long bird (memory bird) as a single, then do the double. He's all about setting up for success. It seems to work.

EDIT TO ADD: Sorry - I clearly read your first post too quickly. You DO do singles first. My trainer also discourages handling on marks. We recall if the dog is REALLY off course - like, leaves the general area of fall. Most of the time, the dog that has been recalled nails it on the second send.


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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 02:00 PM
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This is a great topic for discussion! I look forward to reading about others’ approaches! There’s no “one” answer to this training situation. Plus, there are a ton of variables, so I’ll qualify everything hereinafter with “It depends.”

Like you, I rarely handle on marks…once you blow the whistle, you have taken from the dog the responsibility for getting to the bird, it’s now your responsibility for getting the dog to the bird. (Bear in mind that a dog needs to be able to handle on a mark. It’s not unusual for FT placements to be awarded to dogs that have handled in the last series.)

First the assumptions:
The gunner is standing out; advanced dog … collar conditioned, beyond transition; generally marks pretty good (i.e., the mark is not over the dog’s head); and that the mark is not overly laden with factors.

If the dog looks like he’s going to la-la land, sometimes I will simply yell no-here and recall and resend. If it seems that the dog simply forgot where he needed to go, I will take extra time to setup the dog before resending him; if I think he is clueless as to where he should go, I may have the gunner stand up, or maybe even give a hey-hey, and resend the dog.

If the dog appears to be avoiding a factor, I will stop the dog, most likely deliver low collar pressure, call the dog back and either simply resend the dog or have it thrown again before the send. NOTE that I deliver LOW pressure … this is because you are going to be telling the dog to go right back into the area that the pressure was delivered, so a big correction will often create a bigger problem with the dog being reluctant to get back in there.
>>>If I give the low correction, recall the dog, resend the dog and he nails the mark on a good line, there’s a good chance that the dog wasn’t seriously trying (i.e., goofing off). If that’s the case, I may do a little FF reminder before running the next set up and see if his mind has returned to its proper position on the end of his neck instead of inside the other end of his body.

Actually, I have one dog that meets the aforementioned assumptions, is actually is an excellent marker, and if there’s a standout gunner, a crooked line means that the dog is being lazy and not working hard enough to do it right.

There are times when I will repeat a mark as a single if the line is horrific, but that’s really rare. (I don’t repeat many marks.)

And sometimes I will shorten the mark and build up to the full mark, however that’s usually when there is a factor that’s influencing the dog.

And there are times, again rare, where I stop and handle, whether with or without a correction (this is where reading the dog is important: missed mark = no correction … not trying or avoiding a factor = correction). Many pros typically handle a lot in this situation, with the rationale being that they are “showing the dog the proper way to the bird,” then they may or may not repeat the mark. I really don’t see the value of that (other than saving time).

If I have a dog that bows the lines on a lot of his marks, I will run a bunch of sight blinds (I seem to recall that you, i.e., the OP, don’t do many sight blinds, so you can skip this part ) to get the dog running straight lines. I feel that sight blinds are very helpful with dogs that fade with the wind (land or water) or with the terrain.

As for running multiples in training, you just have to do it sometimes ... your ratio is spot-on.

FTGoldens
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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FT you have come closest to what I'm wondering of anybody (either here or on FB, where I posted the same question). With this:

<<If the dog appears to be avoiding a factor, I will stop the dog, most likely deliver low collar pressure, call the dog back and either simply resend the dog or have it thrown again before the send. NOTE that I deliver LOW pressure … this is because you are going to be telling the dog to go right back into the area that the pressure was delivered, so a big correction will often create a bigger problem with the dog being reluctant to get back in there.
>>>If I give the low correction, recall the dog, resend the dog and he nails the mark on a good line, there’s a good chance that the dog wasn’t seriously trying (i.e., goofing off). If that’s the case, I may do a little FF reminder before running the next set up and see if his mind has returned to its proper position on the end of his neck instead of inside the other end of his body.

Actually, I have one dog that meets the aforementioned assumptions, is actually is an excellent marker, and if there’s a standout gunner, a crooked line means that the dog is being lazy and not working hard enough to do it right.>>

I have DEFINITELY observed this -- and it goes across all dog training venues....if the dog messes up, you correct, and he comes back and does it correctly without changing the criteria, then he PURPOSEFULLY DID IT WRONG....whether it was laziness/lack of effort or whatever. Because if they didn't know they were wrong, a correction won't help them do it right the next time if you change nothing about the mark. Now if you correct and repeat, and the dog still does it wrong, either he doesn't know what he's being corrected for (lack of training...handler's fault) or the correction wasn't big enough to change his mind (nagging...handler's fault).

I know for memory birds you have to give a little on a perfect line. Anyone who has trained long enough knows that dogs just don't see or remember marks like we think is logical. Dogs aren't good at physics. Otherwise why would they ever backside a gun, or hunt really far away from the gunner? Clearly the picture they see and remember is not how we interpret it. So you have to give some leeway on memory birds, because they may be trying but just don't remember it perfectly. Hopefully we set up our marks well enough they have a clear "picture" of what is correct? I.e. stay in the water...and hopefully we've shown the dog this picture enough times that even if he doesn't remember the mark perfectly he can deduce where it should be?

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-20-2017, 01:25 PM
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I've been thinking about this thread over the weekend. Both the facebook post and the GRF forum information. I am definitely a newbie, but interested in getting farther along than where I am now.

Here's what I did the other day. Like FT mentioned above, I have tried running marks from gunners at say 75 yards that I knew were difficult (deep snow mainly). Then re-ran the same marks from 150+ yards. I was quite happy both times that the dog ran very true through all the obstacles (multiple factors of deep snow drifts, thick brush, steep banks up and down). When I stepped back to the farther distance, pup performed equally well through more of the same obstacles. I was very surprised. I watched a lot of other dogs not take the same lines, dogs with lots more experience and running higher levels. The handlers split into 2 groups. They either let their dogs run the marks however they wanted to, or they whistled and handled. Had my pup not run the way I had wanted, I would have called him back before reaching the bird, and re-send him. I've had good luck with that method. I hadn't thought of using low pressure collar until now. If I have pup not take a good line, I'll add that low collar too. I don't like repeating marks unless I'm working on double training (run 2 singles, then put it together as a double).

Added note: I'm not sure why the people in my training group do not call their dogs back to the line and re-send.

~ Stacey with Hunter, Lucy and Riot, missing Reilly, Tiger and Pennie

Last edited by Alaska7133; 02-20-2017 at 01:27 PM. Reason: added thoughts
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Stacey, that is a nice way to handle it, doing the mark first from a shorter distance then from full distance.
I learned the habit of just recalling and re-doing the mark from my training partner...he just trains derby dogs and by necessity he has to recall, because they don't yet handle! But it's very effective. If I were you I would hold off on using any collar pressure when and if you recall Riot on a failed mark -- I would reserve that for more advanced dogs who are purposefully being naughty. Just calling back is a BIG correction in itself, you'll be amazed. We basically decheated Bally by just recalling, little to no pressure. I love the Mitch White drill for decheating, and Fisher and Slater totally got it, but it didn't make sense with Bally, where recalling did.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 10:12 AM
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I would say it all depends on the distance and the difficulty of the drill. Also, is this a memory set up or a lining set up. If the dog comes back after the second mark and shows no indication that the remember that there was another bird on the ground I would have the bird boy re-throw the bird. If the dog looks at the bird on the way back, knows there is another bird there but has difficulty to stay on line to the bird (fighting wind in water, going up the hill at an angle) I would handle. If the dog in young then I would throw the most challenging mark as a single and then come back and run it a a triple/double (depending on the set up). I would not correct unless the dog refuses to take cover or tries to cheat water - that is if the dog was already taught to go thru cover and de-cheated.
Sometimes lack of confidence is mistaken with lack of effort. And then you run into the boo-boo of the dog always depending on you to handle when they lose confidence. My feeling is that if you want better effort one should increase the confidence at the line and help the dog by silent re-throw of the last bird. JMHO


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 10:55 AM
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Anney,
I'll have to look through my Mitch White book, thanks to you, I contacted Mitch and purchased it from him. Great book by the way. I'm curious now about the de-cheating marks drills. I'm always looking for a better way. Anney and FT, thanks for your ideas.

~ Stacey with Hunter, Lucy and Riot, missing Reilly, Tiger and Pennie
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