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Retriever Marking Question


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For the retriever and training people share your thoughts. 
I have a young dog that marks the area of the fall, not the spot.
To try and work on this situation I've been doing the Y drill with him.  He does ok with it but I've noticed a situation. 
He focuses more on me than the fall.  After a split second his eyes are on me. 
What have you guys done to make this situation better?

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It would be helpful to know how old your dog is and how extensive his / her training has been to date.  Also, what the retriever in question  has developed regarding line manners.  A dog that is unfocused on the line is less likely to have their head in the game.  Are you training alone and throwing the bumpers from a location that is remote from the retriever?    Are you handling the retriever from its side (the dog initially working from a place board), and having an assistant throwing marks from a position remotely located from the retriever(my preference being the latter)?  Dependent on the age of the retriever and relative experience, I tend to use very short cover initially to encourage the pup in "pinning" the marks.  Nothing wrong with getting the dog's attention on the thrower by their blowing a duck call prior to the throw to get the pup's focus where it needs to be (scanning downrange for the mark).  Keep marks relatively short initially until the dog becomes more proficient.  If the dog is not looking where it needs to, (wait them out) and you will be installing patience while not giving them the reward of making a retrieve for poor / unfocused line manners.  No focus = no retrieve (reward).   Ultimately you want a retriever that loves marks and is well developed in that regard.  Such dogs learn to go directly to the AOF (area of fall) and hunt tightly to that area rather than hunting big.  The marks can and should be made more challenging as the retriever becomes more proficient by changing up the distance and angles presented, and  the cover, terrain, and water they are thrown in.  You want to make running marks fun for the retriever rather than tedious / boring by overdoing it.  Always leave them wanting more.

 

Does that help ye at all?

 

Cheers,

THE DOG WHISTLER ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸 

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Dog is 22 month old Springer Spaniel.  Pretty extensive training.  Line manners are exceptionally good.  Training alone and I am in front of the dog about 25 yards, dog is sitting on a place board.   I'm throwing the marks into a cut grass lawn in order to help the dog pin the retrieve. 

Let's talk about this statement  "If the dog is not looking where it needs to, (wait them out)".  He takes his eyes off the mark the longer he sits there, if I don't send him immediately he looks at me.  I'm not disagreeing with you, but can you explain how waiting gets them to focus on the mark?  It's an interesting idea. 

 

23 minutes ago, Irishwhistler said:

 Such dogs learn to go directly to the AOF (area of fall) and hunt tightly

 

As far as this statement.  He already does this.  He hunts the area well.  I am trying to get him to take a more direct line to the fall than the area.  He does love retrieving so that's not an issue. 

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2 hours ago, sxsneubaum said:

Dog is 22 month old Springer Spaniel.  Pretty extensive training.  Line manners are exceptionally good.  Training alone and I am in front of the dog about 25 yards, dog is sitting on a place board.   I'm throwing the marks into a cut grass lawn in order to help the dog pin the retrieve. 

Let's talk about this statement  "If the dog is not looking where it needs to, (wait them out)".  He takes his eyes off the mark the longer he sits there, if I don't send him immediately he looks at me.  I'm not disagreeing with you, but can you explain how waiting gets them to focus on the mark?  It's an interesting idea. 

 

 

As far as this statement.  He already does this.  He hunts the area well.  I am trying to get him to take a more direct line to the fall than the area.  He does love retrieving so that's not an issue. 

John,

OK, so we are not dealing with a  young puppy.  You say he loves the retrieve, so generally speaking a dog that really loves the retrieve will really want to go directly to the mark.  How far from where the mark lands is he off of a direct line?  Is he making a loopy approach to it?   Before we explore waiting him out any further, is he e-collar conditioned?  Has he been Force Fetch conditioned" and has he been FTP  (forced to a pile ) conditioned?  I am not familiar with your specific dog, so I am just troubleshooting for my own perspective on what might be going on with him.    Has he worked with dead birds yet and is he really bird driven?  If so bird driven, perhaps throwing freshly killed, thawed, or even frozen birds may be more motivational for him to go more directly to the mark than one conducted with bumpers.  Has he been worked on live flyers?  Most of what you have described so far points toward a dog that is either getting too many marks thrown (lessening the reward value as perceived by the dog), or a dog that simply has not been conditioned to take a direct line from point A to point B.  As for "pretty extensively trained",  elaborate further please and if by a pro or highly knowledgeable amateur trainer?  

 

As for making a dog wait, I use such delay on retrievers all the time to simultaneously build both patience / steadiness as well and to increase desire / drive.   Is this your dog HAWK?

 

Mike  ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸

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1 hour ago, Irishwhistler said:

Before we explore waiting him out any further, is he e-collar conditioned?  Has he been Force Fetch conditioned" and has he been FTP  (forced to a pile ) conditioned?

As far as this goes I do not train with a collar and will not.

 

1 hour ago, Irishwhistler said:

How far from where the mark lands is he off of a direct line?  Is he making a loopy approach to it?


He takes a line to it.  Two issues, will either short the mark or be on the wrong side of the wind of it and takes awhile to work to it.  Would prefer for him to go to the spot, not the area.  Watching him he goes to the area nearby and then hunts for it. 

Birds -- He has gone through the progression, frozen, dead, clips, flyers.  Yes, he is bird driven. 
I don't think he's getting too many marks, it's only a few a week. 

 

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SXS 

Mike has shared some good information with you. In rereading your post I do not see where you have said this 22 month old pup is steady to wing & shot. Is He?

If not Lets get him steadied before you concern your self with marks. When a dog goes through the process of steading he literally has to relearn his running pattern and marking any way. 

If he is reliable steady Then I would abandon the place boards for now, though keep you work outs in short grass. I would then take pupster out for a run carrying 2 bumpers.  As the pup is covering the ground toss a bumper, Steady dog, release the dog as the dog is returning with the 1st bumper toss the 2nd dog must finish the 1st retrieve be for being sent on the 2nd He must be steady to that 2nd bumper Or how else could he have a chance seeing it fall

I also use this exercise as a warm drill before each bird work session"

a short clip this is an advanced state of this drill "the off set double" using clipped wing and healing the dog off before sending for the second mark. There are lots of variations to this exercise once you have established the basics

 

Hal

 

 

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If AOF hunts are working out for him, that's likely to remain his inclination, especially if he enjoys running and hunting.  When mine start getting lazy with their marks and hunting more than I'd like, I make a point of providing lots of marks they can see start (or nearly so) to finish, with both water and big, white bumpers on very short lawns, which helps put them in the habit of depending on their eyes.    

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3 hours ago, sxsneubaum said:

Yes Hal he is steady.

Excellent! I would not hesitate using the off-set double to get his eye off of you and on the mark

 

Hal

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stephen brown

You've been working on handling skills lately? T-drills or inverted t-drills. 

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Jim Vander
On 11/21/2020 at 2:23 PM, Hal Standish said:

Excellent! I would not hesitate using the off-set double to get his eye off of you and on the mark

 

Hal

I think this would help

Can you round up some help and run him from your side? I dont know anything Springers so disregard if it does not apply, but I don't think its clear  if he is a poor marker or lacks attention. 

In retriever space with what I consider indifferent markers I will make the marks hard to get too but easy to find, for example going through 2 foot cover then mark on bare ground beyond the cover. 

I do believe marks can be improved, but I also believe the truly great markers  are born and I think what you see at derbies these days bears that out.  The dogs are certainly taught how to get the marks cleanly but good Lord they have eyes.

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Hal Standish
2 hours ago, Jim Vander said:

I think this would help

Can you round up some help and run him from your side? I dont know anything Springers so disregard if it does not apply, but I don't think its clear  if he is a poor marker or lacks attention. 

In retriever space with what I consider indifferent markers I will make the marks hard to get too but easy to find, for example going through 2 foot cover then mark on bare ground beyond the cover. 

I do believe marks can be improved, but I also believe the truly great markers  are born and I think what you see at derbies these days bears that out.  The dogs are certainly taught how to get the marks cleanly but good Lord they have eyes.

 

 

I agree with you 110% on your post. In Trial or at an Upland test a Spaniel is marking from where the bird flushed, not from the Handlers side as in the Retriever venues. Water test being the exception, however the marks at water are so simple and basic it does not have place in this discussion.

 

One of the reasons I advocate developing a proper delivery of the bird and Steady to W&S at an early age is so the Pup has a chance to learn early proper ground coverage(quartering), use of their god given nose in making game and proper marking skills. These three elements are paramount for dog to become a competitive AA dog, whether it be Open or Amateur Stakes.

Hal

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3 hours ago, Jim Vander said:

I do believe marks can be improved, but I also believe the truly great markers  are born and I think what you see at derbies these days bears that out.  The dogs are certainly taught how to get the marks cleanly but good Lord they have eyes.

 

The truly great markers also have great memories.  And having reread the OP:

On 11/20/2020 at 6:05 PM, sxsneubaum said:

For the retriever and training people share your thoughts. 
I have a young dog that marks the area of the fall, not the spot.
To try and work on this situation I've been doing the Y drill with him.  He does ok with it but I've noticed a situation. 
He focuses more on me than the fall.  After a split second his eyes are on me. 
What have you guys done to make this situation better?

 

I have to wonder if there really is much of an issue, as Pup should be able to snap a mental "picture" of the mark and then look away from it: say, to his handler for release to retrieve.  (Or to subsequent multiple marks.)  Not maintaining focus on the mark shouldn't be much of an issue, if any, at all. 

 

And there's no way for any of us who've not watched the dog work to know if the area of fall Pup's hunting is really excessive or on par for its circumstance.  No dog is going to front-foot very many of its marks that aren't visible from distance.  Should that be the expectation, it's an unrealistic one.

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sxsneubaum
11 hours ago, Rick Hall said:

I have to wonder if there really is much of an issue, as Pup should be able to snap a mental "picture" of the mark and then look away from it: say, to his handler for release to retrieve. 


Yeah Rick, it's not terrible.  It's more of a nuisance.  From a trial perspective, need him to pick up the bird quicker.  He's in the area, circle, circle, circle, oh there it is.  Or if he's on the wrong side of the wind it takes longer. 

Your thought on snapping mental picture is a good one.  And much of this may be corrected through maturity and repetition. 
Part of the reason why I'm curious about if it can be improved is because the rest of his skill set is so good.  He has the skills, head, and potential to be good.  So, in seeing a weakness that's what I want to work on with him if that makes sense. 
The other part of this is because my older dog is a spot on marker, it's his strength.  While training the younger dog the weakness is highlighted more and makes me think of how to improve the situation.  As you stated before Web, my old dog, was born a good marker, but has an incredible memory.  Like 30 minutes or longer, send him on the blind from where he saw the mark, I will be off on where I think it is and he goes right to it. 

 

To sum it up, it's not a back breaking weakness, more of a nuisance that I want to improve on. 

Edited by sxsneubaum
wanted to add a thought.
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