To work with independent dogs
Diesel is a very independent dog, and I have to work hard to convince her that it actually pays off to listen to me when she “knows” (or think she knows…) what she should do. There are, of course, many advantages with an independent dog – she never hesitates to work at a distance from me, she can hunt for an object for a very long time and so on, but I think that a certain balance would be great. Right now we work a lot with blind retrieves with an obvious distraction, for example, I have cast her numerous times across streams and small lakes and I then throw a stone as a distraction. She thinks that it difficult to ignore the spot where the stone splashes down, but if she is deceived by the distraction she doesn’t get any reward.
During our training today I cast her to the left to a hidden dummy instead of to the dummy right behind her. The goal with this exercise is to finally be able to cast the dog to a dummy, stop her halfway, and then cast her to the hidden dummy to the left. Right now we seem to be on the level that I get her to go to the left on the second attempt (I stop her, cast her to the left, she takes a couple of steps backwards, I stop her again and cast her to the left and this time she runs to the left). If she “knows” that there is something to the left she is happy to go in that direction. Therefore I sometimes cast her to the dummies that she has seen me put on the ground and sometimes to areas where she has been before but she has not seen me put a dummy there. In addition, I also cast her to completely hidden dummies. Most of the time I cast her to a place that she has some kind of memory of so that it doesn’t get too difficult for her.
The steps in this exercise are the following (when you know that the dog has a basic knowledge of left and right as well as the stop whistle with a distraction):
- Ask your dog to sit in the middle of an imaginary “watch”. Show the dog that you put a dummy at 9 o’clock. Throw a dummy to 12 o’clock. Go to 6 o’clock and cast your dog to the left.
- Ask the dog to sit at 6 o’clock. Show the dog that you put a dummy at 9 o’clock. Throw a dummy to 12 o’clock. Cast your dog to fetch the marked retrieve, but stop the dog halfway and cast it to the left.
Repeat number 1 and 2 but the dog should not see that you put a dummy at 9 o’clock. You either do it right after the dog has just been there or erase the dog’s memory even more, for example, by coming back the next day and place a dummy at the same spot without the dog seeing it.
You can of course do this exercise with food bowls as well, if you haven’t yet perfected delivery to hand.
If you have a dog that is a bit anxious, don’t stop her on the way to blind or marked retrieves too often – because then the dog might get insecure and not know if she should fetch the dummy if you haven’t stopped her halfway.
Here you can watch a film of exercise I just described. I started on stage two with a hidden dummy to the left so that you can see how it works. Then I show number 1 and 2 with a dummy that she has seen me put on the ground.