We really like mock trials or practice trials, and a couple of years ago we had a very successful one so we thought we’d share a bit more about how everything was set up and how we had filled out the training sheet. Below is Diesel’s and my training before the trial, and my thoughts afterwards.
Instructions for helpers
|Distractions/considerations (distractions I want, I’ll do this or that before releasing the dog, etc)||If something goes wrong (what will I do if something goes wrong, what do I want the helper to do, f ex removing the game, etc)|
|Double marked retrieve on land|
|Double marked retrieve in water||If she runs in I want the helper to pick the game up before she can take it|
|Heelwork||Won’t send her until she’s heeled correctly and we’ve made a nice halt. Will reward often while moving into position.|
|Sweeping up||I want at least one gull. I’ll have the pidgeons close so that I can see how she handles them.|
|Blind retrieve on land|
|Blind retrieve in water||I’ll try to cast her a maximum of three times (tell me if I do more), then we need help with getting her interested in the right spot, f ex by the helper throwing a rock in the water close to the game|
I want to be videotaped Yes No
I want a written evaluation Yes No
Elsa’s comments on the mock trial
I’m very satisfied with my planning and how I carried it out. Diesel was steady by the water and had a nice heelwork almost the whole time, that I rewarded by giving her small pieces of meat balls behind my back (strategic reward placement when she was in the correct position). A couple of times she was slightly unfocused while waiting, especially when we we’re standing with the sweeping up area in front of us and the water behind us. Then she didn’t really follow me when we were turning but rather had her focus in the wrong direction. That’s something we need to practice more.
The things I didn’t write in the planning above were things I was fairly certain would turn out well, and it did (except the blind retrieve on land that was a bit diffuse (there happened to be 15-20 ducks to the right, behind the blind retrieve so she didn’t go straight to the spot but ran by the pond to check them out before I got her to stop and could cast her to the right place).
I’m also happy that she was steady while watching the marked retrieve on water. In fact I was so happy that I actually missed the first mark myself, which she did as well and then she was slightly hesitant to go into the water the second time, but I could cast her out to just about the spot where it was so she got it back.
She was quite hesitant on the blind retrieve on water. I got her about a third of the way, then one of the helpers helped us out by making a small splash, and then she got it.
While hunting/sweeping up (part of trials in Sweden, but not in the UK/US) she was very tempted by the game scent while we were waiting for our turn. Then she hunted really well (picked up the gull first!) even though she worked a bit more with her legs than with her brain.
The double marked retrieve on land was spot on.
To sum it up we need to practice walking behind the gun, getting into position and blind retrieves on water. That will be our homework for the following weeks!
On our bonus material page you can find the instruction to helpers sheet if you want to use it for your own mock trials.