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.