Common Marking Problems
by Jim & Phyllis Dobbs
After starting double marks, it won't take long until the dog anticipates
that a second bird is going to be thrown. This will adversely effect
the dog's concentration on the fall of the memory bird. The dog can
get into the habit of just glancing at the memory bird and then swinging
his head toward the “go bird” (which is typically the more interesting
Teach the dog to concentrate on a fall longer by using the Push-Pull
Drill to move his head back to face the fall. (Retriever Journal,
April/May 97.) When the dog is in the heel position and swings his
head from the memory bird, give him a “nick” with the e-collar and
cue him to move his head back towards the fall. Then send him for
that mark as a single retrieve.
During training do not allow your helper to use any sound attraction
until after you have the dog looking in that direction.
The sound attraction can then be given and the mark thrown.
Another common problem is when the dog overruns the marks; especially
when there is a tail wind present. The dirt clod drill is one of the
methods we use to counter this tendency. It teaches the dog to check
back into the area of the fall rather than being influenced into over-running
by the push of the wind.
While practicing this drill always be sure that the mark is thrown
- Have the helper throw something such as a dirt clod or cow chip.
- When the dog overruns the spot where the dirt clod fell, the helper
should toss in a bird so that it lands on line and at a right angle
to the dog handler.
- After several repetitions of throwing the bird at a right angle,
toss the bird on line but at an angle in towards the handler. Be
sure to sneak it in without the dog seeing it thrown. Let the dog
hunt until it checks back in and finds the bird.
Another problem that usually occurs while teaching double marks is
switching. This is when a dog breaks his commitment to retrieving
the “go bird”, to go and retrieve the memory bird instead. This is
likely to occur when the angle between the marks is narrow or the
memory bird is more interesting to the dog than the “go bird”.
A flier thrown first will often entice a beginner to switch. Therefore,
in this drill the memory bird is a “shot flier” and the “go bird”
is a thrown dead bird.
To prevent or stop a dog from switching, set up the configuration
of marks using a clip winged pigeon as the memory bird (Gun1) and
have the gunner fire a shot with the throw. Use a dirt clod for the
“go” bird (Gun 2).
Since the dog has been previously schooled on the dirt clod drill,
he will hunt in the area of the dirt clod long enough for Gun 1 to
run out and pick up the pigeon.
When the dog switches to the more interesting flyer (Gun 1), Gun 2
should toss a bird into the area where the dirt clod fell.
As soon as the dog gets to the area of the “flier”, give him a whistle
sit as you correct him with the e-collar. Then handle him back to
the bird that Gun 2 slipped into place.
After several repetitions, the dog will average out much better at
perservering in the area of the fall and he will know that he had
better not switch to another fall.