“Jessie” has come a long way in marks and blinds so now it is time to put together the simple and difficult concepts into one mark that has many factors involved.

This is the Hip Pocket Mark.  First let’s define a hip pocket mark.

Please see the photograph below and we will describe all concepts and factors.

This is a photo of a standard widely spaced double.  We start with this to give the dog confidence in the drill. 

In the second scenario M1 is the first bird thrown and is placed in such a way it almost lands in the hip pocket of the thrower M2, the second bird thrown.

Thus the name Hip Pocket.  By throwing the first mark {M1} almost in the hip pocket of the second thrower {M2} we have injected many concepts and factors that only an advanced dog is prepared to accomplish. The experienced dog has seen all these factors but perhaps not all put together in one test.  Don’t try this with a dog who does not understand the basics.  This is an advanced test.

These are the factors and complications that a hip pocket mark presents:

  1. Converging birds
  2. The 2 birds fall almost in line with each other,
  3. The dog should understand the cue “Easy” when sent for the first bird M2.
  4. He must resist the temptation to run past the short bird to get to the M1.
  5. He must not return to the old fall, M2 after he has picked it up. A Mortal Sin. Here some people may give the cue “Way Out or Way Back} to drive the dog past the short bird that has already been retrieved.
  6. He must persist in looking for M1 and not try to return to M2.

One very old method to teach the dog persistence in looking for a difficult long bird is to have an EXPERIENCED thrower at M1.  When the dog is retrieving M2, have the thrower at M1 pick up his bird.  The dog will go to the area of M1 but obviously not find it.  Let him hunt.  At some point after the dog has displayed great persistence have the thrower flip the bird out to where it had been thrown.  On the next pass the dog will find it. Persistence rewarded.

If he does start to come in have the thrower flip a dirt clod out to where the bird was finally thrown to get him back in the area of the fall.

A Reverse Hip Pocket is where the short bird is thrown first and the long bird second and that becomes the Go Bird.  Observe the photo below.

Now we have presented the dog with a different set of problems.

  1. He must ignore the short bird {M1} and pick up the long bird {M2} first.

You may choose to use the cue “Way Out or Way Back”.

  1. Give the cue EASY and have him pick up the short bird M1.
  2. In training the dog must pick up the bird you select, not the bird the dog wants. In a test or trial, if your dog locks on to a bird that you don’t want him to retrieve at that moment, don’t fight it.  You both will lose

Happy Training
John Schulte DVM