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Using recall during training.....

Discussion in 'Gundogs & Gundog Training' started by Sleeping_Lion, May 14, 2010.


  1. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    I've not been doing much with either of my two recently, work has been far too busy. This evening I took my two for their usual walk, and for a change took a couple of tennis balls with me. For Indie, I just throw the ball, she's not what I'd call steady. For Tau, I try and fool her a bit and throw the ball so she doesn't see where it lands, and I can then direct her onto it, hopefully. Quite often, this will involve recalling her part way, and if you have a dog that equates recall with fun ending, you might have difficulty doing this when they don't know there is something where you are trying to direct them, and it takes a while to build up that trust. Tau did great, and found the ball each time she was directed to it, and even marked and went out for a ball Indie completely missed, saved a walk for me.

    I was thinking about this on the way back down, and a good way of getting them to pick objects and then equate that recall with fun, is sitting them, and walking away, placing a ball or something down on the ground, walk another five or ten paces and then recall them. They can see the ball/toy on the ground, and it's an easy retrieve for them, from there, you can start building up trust, so that they know when they come towards you, there could be something for them to find. Another good way of doing this, is while they're not looking, throw a ball out somewhere, and send them out for it. If you're not at a level to send a dog out, just throw it to one side, and get them hunting for it, asking for it either using something like 'find it', or the gundog terms are 'there', 'hi lost' or the hunt whistle, which sounds like an owl call (tweet-twooooooo). I use 'there' and the whistle, alternating, but that's just because I keep verbal commands in use.

    Would be interested if anyone does similar exercises with theirs?
     
  2. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    Lots of looks but no replies, just thought I'd update this with a bit of an example of training, I'll be doing this later with Tau, so will try and get pics, but I use recall a lot, and variations on this sort of theme.

    Prior to setting out with Tau, I will have hidden balls C & B (in green) in the longer grass shown on the diagram, so they will be what's called a blind retrieve, for people unfamiliar with the terms. The field is a bit of an odd shape, but I've used that to my advantage, tucking a blind away in a corner that she's unlike to run to otherwise.

    [​IMG]

    The letters stand for each retrieve, so ball A (green) will be the first, Tau is pink :p and will sit where shown on the rough diagam, I will walk away, let her see where I drop the ball, stand at the red A and recall her, she'll pick the ball up along the way, you get the picture.

    Once I've made a fuss of her, I'll sit her at B, walk to where I plan to recall her from, recall her, and ask her to hunt for the ball as she comes to go over it. I will try and sound the whistle as she's approaching, so she doesn't go over it completely. Also, I will have scented the ball, by spitting on my hands and rubbing it, makes it that bit easier, and there's no point making training difficult.

    At this point, I'll probably give her a couple of run in retrieves as I'm taking her back to the same spot, to set her up for her final retrieve. I aim to stop her approximately where the first ball was picked, and send her left to find ball C. By this time, coming back to me is definitely, definitely great fun, and she's usually paying attention because we're working well as a team.

    So, that's the plan, hope to get some pics, if you want to try something similar but haven't got the sit stay, you just need a friend to hold the lead to be able to try the exercises. The redirection would be a bit much, but the hunt command should be 'doable' if you stand quite close and encourage them to look in the long grass/cover for it as they're coming towards you.
     
  3. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    Pics for anyone interested, again, more looks but no replies. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else does something similar.....

    First up, Tau always sits before she's allowed under/over the fence, and she waits patiently until I call her through, sometimes I do this fairly soon, sometimes I wander about and make her wait.
    [​IMG]

    First retrieve set up with Tau watching, you can see the ball in the foreground, Tau behind, and I move back a bit more after I've taken the photo...
    [​IMG]

    This is where I recall her from, whistle command only, to the left hand side there's a blind in the long grass, and to the right hand side, there's another blind around the corner.....
    [​IMG]

    Tau picks the ball no problem and brings it straight to me
    [​IMG]

    She's smiling now she knows there's *stuff* to do, I leave her set up while I walk over to where I'm going to recall her from.....
    [​IMG]

    Looking back towards her through the long grass, you can see the bit in the middle where the ball is, she hasn't seen me place it there, I will just ask her to hunt as she comes through it.....
    [​IMG]

    a few seconds after recalling, I ask her to hunt, ie get her nose down there's something there....
    [​IMG]

    She got it fine, unfortunately I was a too slow to get a pic of her on the way back to me, never mind, this is her retrieving one of the run in retrieves I gave her on the way to setting her up for the last one....
    [​IMG]

    She's sat up again, waiting for a command....
    [​IMG]

    She's recalled and stopped, she's moved out slightly towards the long grass where she found the ball last, not a problem.....
    [​IMG]

    Sent into the corner she finds the ball no problem, and is on the turn back to me here....
    [​IMG]

    Recall shouldn't equal the end of fun, and I think you can see from Tau's smile, just how much she enjoys mucking about at this gundog stuff :)
     
  4. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

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    I'll give it go next time we go for a walk:thumbup: The tricky bit will be getting Woody to sit and stay. Our fetch games have now turned into find it games now the grass has got long and when he loses it he keeps working till he finds it. Except today he took it with him when he went chasing the swallows and dropped it right in the middle of the huge field:rolleyes: I didn't dare send him back for it as he was playing deaf and it took me ages to get him back as it was.
     
  5. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    In that case, just do the first one, where he sees you drop the ball, but only take five or ten paces away from the ball. If he gets up, you get the ball first, and start from the beginning. Make it a game that he has to get right, and the second he does, give him a huge fuss and a few run in retrieves.
     
  6. rona

    rona Guest

    I used to do things like this with Alfie all the time, might have to go back to it when he's better
     
  7. corrine3

    corrine3 PetForums VIP

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    Part of our training probelm just now is Glen has lost all interest in tennis balls and dummies. So we took them away for a while and he can do a couple of simple retrieves then gets bored. Milly being there now seems to grab his interest a bit more when he sees her doing it and getting praise.
     
  8. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    He sounds very much like Tau used to be, it was a case of building up her interest. She is not at all working bred, she has bolo spots, which can be traced back to the fabulous dual champion Banchory Bolo, but other than that, there is no evidence of working ability, it has all been about hard work and goading her into play. She is very soft, but also stubborn, or perhaps a better term is reluctant in some situations, an odd mix, but once you get the hang of encouraging them forward, it works for you.

    With Tau, I use her lead constantly as a play reward, she gets to hold it, if she does something right, whether that's walk a few paces nicely at heel, or do a few stops to heel, down and leave then recall, once you start putting the training in, and the dog wants to please, then the options are whatever the ceiling limit of the dog is. Tau is now a want to please dog, and yet as a pup, she was uninterested, although with good basic obedience.

    With the tennis balls, do you just throw them away and expect him to find them? One of the interesting concepts about working trials training, was learning that what you hold valuable, the dog perceives as valuable too. So, if you have a tennis ball, and just chuck it without any real thought, for a dog that isn't an avid retriever, it isn't an interesting enough object for it to want. Carry that tennis ball about in a pocket for a week, take it out in view of your dog without letting them have a sniff, but make a fuss of the tennis ball, always keep it out of their reach, and when finally, you accidentally drop the ball on a walk, they think it's the best tennis ball since sliced bread. Importantly, with that added value, you need to praise them for the retrieve, not just try and take it, even if they drop it, carry on telling them what a fabulous dog they are.

    The other way to encourage retrieving is to set up competition, so that you try to get the ball first, hook a finger under their collar, and play act, get to the ball first making a big deal about winning, do this a couple of times, then let them win. Again, make a fuss of the fact they've won, don't try and take the ball away.

    These exercises build up towards them wanting to retrieve, the second part of a retrieve is bringing whatever it is back to you, which makes it a powerful tool for encouraging a recall.
     
  9. corrine3

    corrine3 PetForums VIP

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    Thank you, will give that a try :)
     
  10. mum2three

    mum2three PetForums Junior

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    These ideas sound very interesting. I find my pup gets bored just fetching balls etc very quickly. I'll throw 2-3 times and he'll fetch back and drop at my feet, then he starts to just pick it up, drop it and wander off or pick it up and run straight past me:rolleyes:. oh seems to have better success than me. I will make a note of your suggestions and give them a go next time I'm playing with Luke off lead. BTW what would you suggest I use as commands and for what. At the moment I'm throwing the ball and I get him to "sit" and "wait" (which he won't once I throw unless I hold him). I send him with a "go find" and say "come" when he picks it up and "drop" when he gets to me, oh wants to train him to work. Been having trouble recently with re-call so anything to make myself more interesting than dogs/kids etc would be a great help.
     
  11. mum2three

    mum2three PetForums Junior

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    Also wanted to say, great pictures. Thats a fab field you have to train in and Tau looks like one happy dog:thumbup:.
     
  12. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    In training sessions, you aim to give the dog a retrieve once out of every possible 5-7 balls/dummies etc thrown, so I've been told. Another exercise I do, is to sit them, either both at the same time, or just one at a time, and throw a tennis ball around them, it's referred to as steadiness training. They're not allowed to budge during this bit of training, and if they get it right, the reward is a retrieve or three at the end. What it does mean, is you going and picking the ball up a lot, and always pick the last ball up, don't let them assume they'll get the end retrieve.

    I also use this during directional training with Tau (Indie isn't steady enough). I sit Tau with her back against a wall, or out in the open if I'm doing 'out' (sending her away from me). I will sit her, throw the balls out so I can send her either left or right (and possibly out), but I won't let her retrieve them all, and I'll keep her guessing which way I'm going to send her.

    If I get time, I'll do a couple of diagrams to show how I use walls and fences and directional training and scan them so I can post them to explain a bit better what I mean.
     
  13. mum2three

    mum2three PetForums Junior

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    Currently making a little book with your tips:D. Seriously though, very interesting stuff and I am taking notes. I think I'll try and find the book you suggested on another thread. A couple of training places near us but can't afford the gundog training at the moment. I've met the Gundog man from one of them at my train club. He gave me tips on calming Luke down and stopping him bouncing over everyone, he's getting better slowly.
     
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