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Discussion Starter #1
I hijacked GoldenSail's thread about wingers, so I thought I'd move the discussion to a new thread instead and butt out of her thread!

What do you people do when the dog doesn't find a difficult mark? I'm not referring to a dog that doesn't mark well and needs to learn or practice their marking, I'm referring to the odd incident when he or she just doesn't find the mark because it was a very difficult mark due to distance, cover, or was the second or third memory bird and after a long hunt for the go-bird they just lost track of it.

I realize a lot of it depends on the level of training of the dog. I still consider Tito to be a green dog, because he doesn't even have his SH yet. He handles well and runs nice cold blinds, but I still think he is a novice dog because he has so little experience and training.

I know how Dan deals with it, so I'm curious what others would say. I'm hoping it will make for a nice discussion.

Dan would say you should always have someone out there to help him, or be using something like bumper boys where you can fire another bumper. He is very opposed to handling a green dog to a mark, EVER. It's okay to do in a test if it might save your pass, but not in training. He feels you risk causing so many problems that way, some of which can be very hard to fix, such as popping.

Any discussion?
 
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I agree with everything Dan says in this regard :)
I RARELY and I do mean RARELY handle on marks in training. The only time I would plan to handle on a mark is if the dog was presented with some sort of in-line or two-down-the-shore scenario, and after picking up the short bird and sent for the long bird, the dog chose to fall into the trap of going back to the short bird AOF rather than pushing long. Recalling and resending doesn't help b/c it's the same send line, gunner help is only bailing out the advanced dog (might be a good option for a green dog, though). Even handling without a correction is bailing out the advanced dog. This is something I have to revisit with Fisher all the time so now I plan to handle with a correction in this scenario.
But that's just a very small example.
In general I like the gunner to help. Here is a real basic way to remember what to do.
If the dog takes a BAD LINE (i.e. takes off toward 3 o'clock when the mark is at 10 o'clock) RECALL the dog and resend.
If the dog takes a GOOD LINE from then on out it is between the dog and the gunner.
If the dog stays in the AOF I will let them hunt until the cows come home. If they start to leave the AOF then it's the gunners job to get them back in the AOF (provided the dog doesn't have a previous issue of giving up early, then there needs to be a different approach).
If it's just an innocent thing that the dog happens to hunt his way out of the AOF, then a hey hey, duck call, fake throwing motion, gunshot, whatever by the gunner can pull him back.
If the dog gives up and leaves the AOF to return to another mark then I would stop with the whistle, say NO and have the gunner get the dog's attention and bring him back in the AOF. I like this approach better than just handling, because if you handle it ceases to be a mark and any lesson about staying in the AOF is lost. If you stop the dog and then get the gunner to help he will keep hunting rather than it turning into a blind.
I will say I don't find myself helping a whole lot with our advanced dogs. I avoid this by doing a lot of memory birds as singles first. They learn to mark on singles and doing this makes their success and confidence skyrocket. It has worked well for me.
 

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That's great stuff Anney! I really like your basic way to remember what to do.
If the dog is still in the AOF, Dan, too, will let them hunt on and on and on as long as they are diligently hunting. He told me once that the bird scent is like when someone lights a cigarette in the room. At first you don't smell it, but after a while the smell spreads out more and more, and you start to smell it. He said bird smell is the same, sometimes it takes a while for it to spread out enough for the dog to find it, especially pheasants which don't have much smell.
 

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Different with advanced dogs than it is for more novice dogs.

With young dogs like Bonnie, I want the help out in the field--and I also want to consider what the cover is like where the bird is landing. If they have to punch through a bunch of crap to get there then I want the bird obvious once they get there.

For my big dogs I try to avoid running what I think of as "exercise marks." I try to select a concept or skill to work on when we go out to train and I keep a log of skills we have worked and the dogs' proficiency with them. Difficult concept birds should be taught as singles first. I will handle the dog with a strong "No here" back to the point where they made the bad choice if they cave to a factor or cheat. If I know they have the memory and tools to actually do the mark I will handle on it to get that lesson in--I want them to have that correction so they are aware they made a bad decision, particularly if it is due to lack of effort. But then I will repeat the concept until they can do it well before I will incorporate that into a multiple, where the same thing applies. If their body language is telling me they really do not know then I will reset and rethrow. But that is for dogs doing Master work.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
thanks Shelly, I was hoping you'd join in. So even for dogs at the master level, if they really really don't know where it is, you would call them all the way back in and reset and rethrow?
 

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It really depends on skill level and why the dog got off-track and where. As long as she stays in the general area she can hunt up a storm and I will wait. If the initial take off is poor (completely wrong direction) I would just resend. If it is good and she's veering off then the bumper boy can help. I haven't tried to handle and I haven't had the desire because in my mind we are doing marking drills, not handling drills. If she needs help I like to re-run the mark so the last one was more solid.
 

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What do you people do when the dog doesn't find a difficult mark?
Well, since no one else is asking, I will; which dog? In what situation? Is it chronic? Is it a certain type of concept, or bird placement issue? What is the history of the dog?

All of those would, or should be determinants in how you would treat a missed mark or prolonged hunt. No 'one-size-fits-all' solutions.

EvanG
 
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For my big dogs I try to avoid running what I think of as "exercise marks."
Shelly this made me laugh (and agree).
There is a woman down here who used to train with us frequently, her dogs were very undertrained, she didn't take field stuff seriously, they weren't FF'd very well and although she zapped them they weren't CC'd, terrible cheaters, add to that she was an awful bird boy, always distracting or lost in space. If given advice she would try it once then go right back to the same old baloney. It was very frustrating!!! I finally realized that all she was doing by coming to training was EXERCISING HER DOGS. Once I came to that conclusion I gave up all illusion of accomplishing some training and she had a fine time EXERCISING HER DOGS. LOL!!!!

But your point is a good one, and that is, to make EACH mark count for SOMETHING. What good is a mark if it doesn't teach or strengthen some skill in the dog? It's just exercise. Granted one dog's lesson may be another dog's exercise, but I feel it has really helped my training to make each mark have some difficult factor to it, do them as singles first then run it as a multiple. Suddenly you have a dog who is running difficult marks as memory birds and nailing them. (I know not everyone ascribes to this but I feel it has worked for me.)
 
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ah, Evan, in my original post I did say it's not a dog that has a chronic problem, just a dog that runs into a very difficult mark and cant find it. I said assume a fairly novice dog.
You get a sit-nick-sit for lack of focus, LOLOL.


Well, since no one else is asking, I will; which dog? In what situation? Is it chronic? Is it a certain type of concept, or bird placement issue? What is the history of the dog?

All of those would, or should be determinants in how you would treat a missed mark or prolonged hunt. No 'one-size-fits-all' solutions.

EvanG
 

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I've posted in a lot of Tito's training threads that this is exactly what Dan does. When he sets up the marks for the day, he is training a particular concept, such as running up/down a steep hill, cover changes, crosswinds, marks falling behind the tree line, and so on. He doesn't just go out and set up marks at random.
I don't know enough to really do it the way he does, but he always explains it to me so when we try to set up something I can at least duplicate what he was working on.

ETA---and this is sort of what made me think to wonder how people deal with it when the dog doesn't find the mark. We are working on a concept/factors/suction/flares (heehee, did I get them all, Anney??) and if he were immune to all of them, well, he'd be running field trials not working on SH. But we intentionally set up a reasonably difficult mark, to work on something in particular, and once in a while they don't find the mark because of how we set it up.
I am babbling.



Shelly this made me laugh (and agree).
There is a woman down here who used to train with us frequently, her dogs were very undertrained, she didn't take field stuff seriously, they weren't FF'd very well and although she zapped them they weren't CC'd, terrible cheaters, add to that she was an awful bird boy, always distracting or lost in space. If given advice she would try it once then go right back to the same old baloney. It was very frustrating!!! I finally realized that all she was doing by coming to training was EXERCISING HER DOGS. Once I came to that conclusion I gave up all illusion of accomplishing some training and she had a fine time EXERCISING HER DOGS. LOL!!!!

But your point is a good one, and that is, to make EACH mark count for SOMETHING. What good is a mark if it doesn't teach or strengthen some skill in the dog? It's just exercise. Granted one dog's lesson may be another dog's exercise, but I feel it has really helped my training to make each mark have some difficult factor to it, do them as singles first then run it as a multiple. Suddenly you have a dog who is running difficult marks as memory birds and nailing them. (I know not everyone ascribes to this but I feel it has worked for me.)
 

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Well what little training I have done (only started this summer). My club has a person out there and we have walkie talkies so it the dog has more experience and is in the general area of the fall the owner can choose to have help throw another bumper or let the dog hunt. For the young dogs we let them search some and if you see them thinking about about giving up we throw the other bumper. We dont ever let them fail.

At home when my son I go out we dont have walkie talkies( would like to get some ) I use a hand signals when I want help with Jige. We training him some hard areas. I did realize it on the first couple of throws but that 3rd one he had lots of trouble. So he needed help and then I had my son move to a more level area.
 

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thanks Shelly, I was hoping you'd join in. So even for dogs at the master level, if they really really don't know where it is, you would call them all the way back in and reset and rethrow?
On multiples for the big dogs, if they are telling me on the line they don't know where it is I would rather reset and rethrow THEN, rather than have them go out in the field unsuccessfully. What is the point if they are aimlessly running around the field? They really haven't marked it, so all they are learning is that if they run around near a gunner long enough they will SOB. I want my dogs to learn to MARK those tough birds! You need to read your dog on the line, which is why all of those memory bird cues and routines are so important--they give you the chance to assess on the line whether the dog remembers or not. Now if they get all the way out there and are just not coming up with the bird, then I might give a quack of encouragement from the winger.

I also want my young dogs to practice perserverance, so I will have the gunner help them stay in the AOF, but if they cannot actually make it there because they have no idea where the mark is, what are they actually learning? If they look out without a clue, or are acting uncertain as to whether a bird went down I would rather have a rethrow--that is why it is so important to be watching THE DOG when the marks are going down--you need to be reading their body language to know whether they have seen the mark or not.
 

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thanks Shelly, that's an awesome reply!
 

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For my big dogs I try to avoid running what I think of as "exercise marks." I try to select a concept or skill to work on when we go out to train and I keep a log of skills we have worked and the dogs' proficiency with them. Difficult concept birds should be taught as singles first. I will handle the dog with a strong "No here" back to the point where they made the bad choice if they cave to a factor or cheat. If I know they have the memory and tools to actually do the mark I will handle on it to get that lesson in--I want them to have that correction so they are aware they made a bad decision, particularly if it is due to lack of effort. But then I will repeat the concept until they can do it well before I will incorporate that into a multiple, where the same thing applies. If their body language is telling me they really do not know then I will reset and rethrow. But that is for dogs doing Master work.
Oh and just an addendum to this--when I handle to correct lack of effort, I expect the dog to finish the mark on its own--unlike in a test or trial where you would handle all the way to the bird.
 
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ah, Evan, in my original post I did say it's not a dog that has a chronic problem, just a dog that runs into a very difficult mark and cant find it. I said assume a fairly novice dog.
You get a sit-nick-sit for lack of focus, LOLOL.
By "novice", does that refer to a level of training or just inexperience, or possibly both? If the dog has a full set of Basics, but is just inexperienced at field marks, the treatment is very minimal, especially since it isn't a chronic issue.

A good rule of thumb (in general) is to help the dog in a way that is so subtle the dog doesn't realize your involvement. That would necessarily mean to do the least you can do, while still actually helping. A little noise; stopping as soon as the dog shows he's returning to the fall area, for example.

But there is a technique that Rex Carr called "walking out a mark" that many trainers aren't aware of, but do some form of. It requires either a very experienced bird boy, or good communication with the trainer; perhaps by radio. It works something like this.

If the dog is hung up hunting short of the fall, and isn't recovering into the fall area, the bird boy would move quietly deeper/further from the handler, but should do so in a manner that the dog doesn't see him/her move.

If the dog is hunting too deep, and isn't able to recover into the fall area on his/her own, the bird boy would move closer to the handler - away from the dog. The effect in each case is the passive influence of the gun position.

Marking is an act of vision and memory; even on single marks. It is the vision aspect this works on. When a dog sees a bird fall, he sees the whole scene...not only the fall itself, but also prominent landmarks. They measure distance and area of the fall relative to distinct features present at the time. That's why retired marks require so much more focus on the mark itself - making them good training, even for dogs that run testing venues where no guns retire. It makes a good marker a better one.

This bird boy movement should be very subtle. It allows the dog to recover through its instincts, and gives the dog success on its own. Remove that element, and your dog will begin to lose cofidence in his abilities, and will begin to pop on marks.

EvanG
 

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ETA---and this is sort of what made me think to wonder how people deal with it when the dog doesn't find the mark. We are working on a concept/factors/suction/flares (heehee, did I get them all, Anney??) and if he were immune to all of them, well, he'd be running field trials not working on SH. But we intentionally set up a reasonably difficult mark, to work on something in particular, and once in a while they don't find the mark because of how we set it up.
I am babbling.
If the dog won't cave to it it either means the dog has internalized that lesson and understands the concept built into the mark, or that the factor is not influential enough in the mark to get the dog to respond to it. So you have to assess whether you are not challenging the dog enough that they learn from the scenario, or whether they have got it and you can move on.

Really good bird placement puts a bird where the dogs don't want to go in some respect, or places factors en route that tempt the dog to take a line that will make it more difficult to come up with that mark. The ability to read a field and "see" these marks is a real talent some judges and trainers have.
 

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A good rule of thumb (in general) is to help the dog in a way that is so subtle the dog doesn't realize your involvement. That would necessarily mean to do the least you can do, while still actually helping. A little noise; stopping as soon as the dog shows he's returning to the fall area, for example.

EvanG
Such a salient point Evan. It is one that frustrates me when I take my younger dogs to a picnic trial where the gunners in the field may not be as experienced, or are unfamiliar with the way we train. If there is going to be a momentum bird to help a young dog make it trough a big, tough mark, I want it thrown while the dog is far from the gunner and just thinking of breaking down. If the dog has made the AOF the last thing I want is for another bird to be thrown at that point. I want the gunner to do what you have described so that the dog has to still be responsible for digging out that mark. Too often their "help" for the dog becomes a crutch--it actually tells the dog they do not need to be responsible for remembering the mark, because the gunner will just pop them an easy mark when they get there. Sooooo counter-productive!!
 

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I prefer Dan's method. I will handle an older dog for cheating a mark,land or water or to teach a concept but not to find the mark. On rare occasions I will handle if they are about to go out of sight or about to get in trouble or switch. Young dogs I will not handle and never let any of them return without the mark.
 

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There is a significant distinction between "handling to a mark", and "handling for route deviation"/"cheating". Both all too often get lumped into a single heading of "handling on a mark". They are not at all the same things. A one size fits all approach to helping dogs that are having difficulty on a particular mark may very well result in the dog losing confidence, and ending up with a bigger problem than he started with.

How old? How experienced? How patterned is the behavior? What tools does the dog have? All these and more need to be taken into consideration.

EvanG
 

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I may have missed something but are we talking about training with bumpers or flyers for the mark? After all, a bird can do things that a bumper cannot do.
 
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