“Jessie” knows Baseball and is doing beginning handling in the water by learning the “Seeking Water” drill.  It’s time to go back to land to learn advanced handling.  In order to start we must go back to more forcing.  We will teach her to be forced to a pile.  Place 18 bumpers about 25 feet in front of you in the open.  Line her up and give her the “Back” command.  She should have no problem with this.  Now over the course of the next 17 retrieves nick her about 5 times.  Make sure she is running to the pile and when she is part way there, nick her while repeating the “Back” command.

Some trainers will have the dog retrieve about 6 bumpers and call it good.  No, you truly have not forced the dog.  This drill should be repeated over the course of a number of days.  Why do we force a dog to do something he naturally does?  The reason is when he is under pressure later in his training, he will not quit.  He knows he has to go.  Let’s define some terms.  The first is Direct Pressure.  You are putting pressure on the dog directly to get him to accomplish a task.  Pinching his ear is a form of direct pressure.  What is Indirect Pressure?  Indirect Pressure is when you apply pressure to get him to do one thing while you are actually getting to do something else. What is an example of Indirect Pressure?  Let’s take the example of a dog barking his head off in his crate while he is watching other dogs retrieve a flyer.  Indirect Pressure occurs when you take the dog out of his crate and put him on a mat about 25 feet from the line.  You give the command “Kennel” or whatever command you choose and make him lie down on the mat.  He must not leave the mat.  Shoot a flyer.  He will be concentrating on the flyer and the Indirect Pressure of staying on the mat.  You have given him a job to do.  The barking will cease.  You have applied pressure to obey one command while you are really getting him to do something else.

Now that he has been forced to a pile on land, let’s go to water forcing.  Select a wide channel and place 10 bumpers at the end.  Make the pile visible to him.  Send him on the Sight Blind he knows so well.  He also has completed the “Seeking Water Drill” so he will stay in the water both going and coming.

Try and make the dog go down the middle of the channel going out and coming back.  Do not seek perfection at this stage.  Remember what Rex would say.  “If you seek momentum you will achieve perfection.  If you seek perfection you will lose momentum”.  The dog will probably do OK for the first 4 or 5 retrieves.  When he starts to get tired and seeks the shore this is when true forcing occurs.  He must not get out of the water and must go down and back at least 10 times.

Now let’s go back to land and teach another command.  The “Sit” command when the dog is being sent to the force pile. When the dog is really digging in and driving for the pile, it is time to use the long line that she has been dragging.  This is the same line we used to teach her to come in.  Make sure the material in your long line will not cut your hands.  I always use gloves for our next step.  I find it helpful to review the “Sit on a Whistle” command by first walking with your dog at heel and making them sit while blowing the whistle.  Then blow the whistle when the dog is some distance from you. We are demanding a quick Sit on whistle at any distance.

Send your dog to the pile, let him get part way there, blow the “Sit” whistle and pull him to a stop using the long line.  Now give him a “Back” to the pile. Send him again.  This time let him go all the way and pick up a bumper.  There are 18 bumpers out there.  Alternate not only blowing the whistle, but vary the spot where you make him sit.  As a rule let him get the bumper 12 out of 18 times without giving the “Whistle Sit”.  Again this is a Gotta Do command.  They must “Sit” instantly on land perfectly before you can advance to water.

Happy Training

John Schulte DVM