Pile Work Volume II [Back to Monthly Pro Staff Articles]
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Pile Work Volume Two
Pile Work and the Blind Retrieve
Last Month, Rick Rokjer of Locust Ridge Retrievers introduced us to pile work and the beginning stages of the blind retrieve. This month, Rick elaborates on the topic and describes his process for introducing the command, Back.
Rick explains, "The command Back doesn't mean "go to the pile and bring me a bumper or bird whenever you feel like it. Back means go NOW, with style and momentum" The e-collar is a tool we use to deliver this message. The pressure from the e-collar gives the dog a sense of urgency to complete the task. In this case, use a "Nick" with the e-collar to encourage the dog to pick up the pace toward the pile.
Rick explains how he begins this process, "Start by lining the dog up to pile using heel. When the dog is looking in the correct direction, identify the pile by tossing a bumper to it. Send your dog with the command Fetch/Back. Once they return and deliver to hand, line the dog up again and send them back to the pile. The dog will be retrieving a bumper they did not see thrown. This is the beginning stages of blind work and the command you will use is Back."
The next step is to use the command sequence "Back-Nick-Back." When the dog is halfway to the pile, command Back, giving a simultaneous "Nick" with the e-collar. You should see the dog's momentum increase. Rick suggests using the Back-Nick-Back sequence about every fourth send to the pile. As the dog progresses and is successful, take steps backward to increase your distance to the pile. Rick uses the Back-Nick-Back sequence even when the dog is running strong and confidently. By doing this, it engrains the meaning of the stimulation, which is to hurry to the pile. Eventually, you will only need to "Nick" them if they are loafing and not giving sufficient effort.
Rick emphasizes that "the word Back means leave my side with enthusiasm in the direction I have sent you. Be consistent in your cues and mindful of your tone of voice. Back is a command, not an option."
Lastly, it is imperative to teach the dog the difference between a "Mark" and a "Blind." We do this by using a cue word. The two most common cue words for a blind retrieve are "Dead" and "Dead Bird." Begin by lining your dog up to the pile, when they are looking in the correct direction use your cue word and command Back. Be consistent with the cue word and your dog will quickly learn the difference between a mark and a blind retrieve.
For more information, feel free to contact Rick Rokjer at Locust Ridge Retrievers www.facebook.com/locustridgeretrievers
You can also email us at email@example.com