On Friday I continued Doc and Mia’s retriever work with longer retrieves and angles. My goal with the longer retrieves was to get them out of the habit of retrieving bumpers only within throwing distance, so I took advantage of the moderate breeze to draw them further out.
In the diagram, bumper “1” was placed at about 250 feet, and both Doc and Mia did very well taking a straight line to it, aided by the wind. I placed bumper “2” about 300 feet out and again both did well taking a line to it.
Knowing that they use the fence as a reference point, I set four bumpers at an angle to the fence line. In addition to their using the fence line as a reference point, they have also developed a specific pattern for running and hunting in the pasture and I wanted to break that up as well. I placed the bumpers in grass about 150 feet from our starting point, a big step up from the line-of-sight retrieving they’ve been doing.
I alternated dogs, giving Mia bumpers “3” and “5”, and Doc bumpers “4” and “6”. I always cast them to the downwind side of the mark so that if they miss it, they can work back up the scent cone.
With bumper number 3, Mia insisted on taking a straight line to the opposite fence rather than the angle to bumper 3. After recalling and restarting her several times, she took a good line and retrieved it nicely.
Doc did very well with bumper 4, taking a good line and when he overran the bumper, worked back to it, finishing with a nice retrieve.
Mia had trouble with bumper #5 and I recalled her half a dozen times before she held a line all the way to the bumper. The trouble was that after running about halfway to the bumper, she’d turn into the wind and return to where the previous bumpers had been placed. I think some of the problem was the urge to hunt into the wind, plus I was sending her in a direction contrary to how they normally hunt. But after a few times of being recalled, reset, and sent out again, she got the idea, held her line and made a nice retrieve.
Doc had a lot of trouble with bumper #6 and I think that his problems were the same as Mia’s only more so. He couldn’t grasp the idea of hunting downwind and in the direction I was sending him; eventually I tossed a couple of snowballs in the direction of the bumper to give him something to focus on. He finally held a line all the way to the bumper, worked his way back upwind to it, and returned in triumph.