KEEPA: KNOW­ING WHEN TO STOP

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

FIRST OF ALL I send Keepa out for a short marked re­trieve. As he goes, I im­me­di­ately start to fol­low him with­out him know­ing. As he gets about twothirds of the way out I blow the stop whis­tle. The first time he does this, he does his typ­i­cal “non­cha­lant” stop, look­ing around a bit, but then is shocked to see me so close to him. This im­me­di­ately gets his at­ten­tion a lit­tle more than at dis­tance.

As he gives me a real fo­cused look, I im­me­di­ately throw a ball to him to catch with a lot of vocal praise. He hap­pily bounces back to me with the ball, know­ing he has done well. I walk him back to our orig­i­nal start­ing point and send him straight out for the orig­i­nal marked re­trieve.

It is im­por­tant not to overdo the stop whis­tle be­cause it is easy to make a novice dog “sticky”. If he stopped ran­domly on the way out to the mem­ory mark, I would have tem­po­rar­ily ended the drill un­til I had his drive back. For­tu­nately he didn’t.

I re­peated the ex­er­cise sev­eral times and he did stop quicker be­cause he knew there was a good chance I would be quite close to him and that there may well be a fun ball com­ing his way if he looks at me.

I re­peated this three times be­fore try­ing the stop with­out me mov­ing. He stopped beau­ti­fully, and a good sign that this was work­ing was that as he stopped

“Keepa is not fo­cus­ing 100 per cent on me; he would rather I didn’t stop him”

he looked straight at me and wagged his tail wait­ing for the next in­struc­tion.

Af­ter send­ing him for a short marked re­trieve, El­lena blows the stop whis­tle when Keepa is about two-thirds of the way out

As soon as Keepa looks suf­fi­ciently fo­cused on her, El­lena re­wards him by throw­ing a ball

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