The Pathway to Excellent Blind Retrieves

British Ret Champs 2007What is a blind retrieve?  It depends on your point of view –

  • As a judge……..
  • As a handler/trainer………
  • As a dog………..

From a judge’s point of view it is two-fold.  The handler must be seen to have enough control over the dog to be able to direct him to an area in spite of any distractions on the way and then get him to establish a hunt in that area to come up with the bird.  The dog must be seen to be responsive to the handler’s whistle and hand gestures, go out with style and enthusiasm, and use his nose to guide him to the fall once in the area.

From a handler’s point of view it is the culmination of hours and hours spent on many repetitive lining and handling drills which started when the dog was a pup and will probably continue until the dog is in his 4th and 5th year.  It is, in the case of the team that has done all the preparation and proofing necessary for the level of competition they find themselves in, the incredible feeling of total focus and communication between you and your dog that makes a successfully executed blind retrieve the ultimate and most satisfying game you can play with your dog.

From the dog’s point of view it is knowing exactly what is required of him when the two of you walk into line for a blind.  He will be watching from signals from you to indicate where he must look and in which direction to go.  It is the only time when his natural ability to retrieve the bird take second place and he understands this.  It is his confidence and trust that you will guide and direct him to where these natural abilities can take over in his final hunt for the bird.  This attitude does not develop overnight but takes (dare I say it) years to build.  In a young dog, confident in his ability to mark a fall, establish a hunt and find the bird without any help from you, this realisation has not yet penetrated and I know how frustrating it is to send a young dog out to a blind only to have him wildly hunt an area the size of a rugby field, totally ignoring any whistle commands or hand signals you might be making from the line.  Take heart – the penny does eventually drop, and when it does all the seemingly mindless repetition of drills and exercises you have been doing in training all falls into place, and you have a good “blind” retriever.

Blind Summary Easy Beginnings

Lining Drills and Transition

Handling Drills and Transition

Transition

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One Response to The Pathway to Excellent Blind Retrieves

  1. Lining Tips For Training:

    1) Run wagon wheel until you can predict with 100 percent success which bumper your dog will pick up. Focus on perfect spine-head-attitude with each send. Once you can run wagon wheel perfectly at three different areas start working on 2-tiered wagon wheel for finer lining through slots.

    2) Teach your dog to maintain a line by running through slots (keyhole blinds) and to jumping over barriers. Start this with simple teaching slot and barrier concepts in the yard.

    3) Bird boy blinds can teach a young dog to line blinds, gradually increasing distance with each blind a unique destination. Success builds confidence in lining.

    4) With young dogs just starting cold blinds, run many (3-6) cold blinds ina flat, featureless field, ideally with no wind. Try to make the end of each blind obvious to your dog from about 10-meters away, but not visible until then. Use orange bumpers or birds, not white bumpers..you do not want to teach a dog to seek white objects.

    5)In blinds, setup to an in-line leaf,rock, or blade of grass in font of you rather than looking back and forth from the dog to the blind…like spot bowling or putting in golf.
    Line your dog’s spine, head and attitude at the in-line target three meters in front of you.
    With each send try to predict the initial line…
    are you consistently left or right of the laser line to the blind?

    6) With young dogs just starting cold blinds, don’t fuss with precise lining…this can worry a dog and start a bugging habit…
    Running a simple mark, then a blind helps build momentum in young dogs.

    7)It can be risky to recall a young dog for poor intial line leading to a confused dog that pops, or is slow on blinds. Recalling can be confusing because the dog may not know what it did wrong
    and when. Stopping and casting gives the dog more instantaneous information..”not that way,this way”
    If a young dog starts a bad initial line, as long as it is a straight line let him carry the line as far as possible (he is going straight which is good) then handle back on the line.

    9) Make a habitat of starting your blind with your whistle in your mouth, not hanging from your neck..
    you may need a quick whistle for a poor initial line in a test or trial.

    10) When planting blinds, don’t walk directly back to the line..that can teach a dog to follow footstep scent to the planted blind.

    11) In tests or trials challenge the blind, in training run multiple blinds teaching the same concept to different locations

    12)Hunting waterfowl in below freezing conditions is no problem, training in cold water is a no-no. When training water blinds especially, the water should be warm (>65 degreees) to promote
    a good water attitude in young dogs.

    13) Maintain an eager attitude. Reward each blind retrieve with a happy bumper. Success builds on success. Read you dog…attitude is key!

    Like

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