We have been through a lot of pressure with “Jessie”. It’s now time to advance onto some fun and more advanced teaching. We will begin with “Sight Blinds”. Sight blinds are just that, you want to make sure the dog knows where to go even though they don’t see anything thrown. Put down one bumper with a white post or post with a white bag tied to the top about 4 feet behind the bumper. Go to a position so the dog can see the bumper and the post behind it. Say “Fetch”. He knows that drill. After he retrieves it, flip it back to its original position and substitute the word “Back”. If successful walk 20 or 30 feet further from the bumper. Use the command “Back” when he is locked and loaded. If successful, place a number of bumpers at the site and walk back another 20 feet. Start using more verbal cues such as “Dead Bird” or “Way Back” before sending the dog so they anticipate your next command. Send the dog to the pile. Female dogs will invariably start shopping, that is picking up one bumper, dropping it, and picking up another. Don’t let this become a habit. Use your come in whistle, and or voice returning to a command she knows well “Here!” If all goes well keep backing up. As in all our lessons, if you encounter a problem go back to the point you had success and begin again. We insist on straight lines. A dog may run to the pile but may swing out to the right or left to do so. Do not allow this. Straight lines. Also work on the return. Rex use to say “You teach the dog how to go out on the return”. The dog wants to come back to you so you may use more pressure on the return. Blinds are run in two directions, going out and coming back.
Depending on the dog you may be completing blinds of 150 yards in one day. There is no formula for time. Take all the time you need to achieve perfect blind sight retrieves. If possible come out the next day and run the blind again. After your dog can do sight blinds perfectly, replace the white stake with one that does not stand out. In time this may become a permanent blind, a blind the dog knows by heart and can be used to bolster his confidence. It can be used to dry off a dog after a water blind. Your training will progress quicker if you have permanent blinds at each area you train.
Now that the dog has this blind down pat, starting adding factors to the blind. Start by putting a chair out about 15 feet off the line to the blind. If that does not bother the dog, put a person in the chair, later have the person fire a blank pistol and run the blind. Keep adding factors into the blind. As you progress, go to a new area where you can teach a permanent blind that has many elements. These elements may include such factors as long distances, changes in terrain, cover, water, multiple entries until you can build up to an average year 2070 Senior Hunt Test Blind. The following photograph shows such a permanent blind that has been taught over a number of days.
The red B is the location of the permanent blind. The next photograph shows the same blind but in a foreshortened view to better see the factors in this permanent blind.
John Schulte DVM