Gundog placeboards: how teach to casting left, right, and back.

Gundog placeboards: how teach to casting left, right, and back.

What is gundog casting?

Casting means handling your dog at a distance to

 

Gundog skills: directional control

In Gundog Training we teach the dog that:

  • When we say “Back” as we raise a hand at shoulder height and move that hand forward away from our body, that’s a cue for the dog to ‘turn 180 ° and run directly away from the handler until they find their target’
  • When we point beside us with an arm raised at shoulder height, that’s a cue for the dog that ‘‘turn 90° and run directly away from the handler until they find their target’

The target is typically a retrieve or can be a marker post, but in these practice exercises, it will be a placeboard.

We can use our arm gestures paired with using a placeboard as a target in different positions around the handler to send the dogs to, to teach the dog directional casting.

 

What is the benefit of having directional control of your gundog?

Having the ability to direct dogs to run out on different paths allows gundog handlers to guide dogs left, right and backwards onto the retrieve the handlers want them to take.

For example, left onto a ‘runner’ instead of a right onto a dead bird which will be there when they get back!

 

 

Why use placeboards to help your gundog training?

In gundog training, even with the keenest retriever, you would limit your practice to 3-5 for a young dog (You know the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt”!).

The benefit of using a placeboard to practice is you can get lots of successful repetitions in your session without the dog losing motivation retrieving.

Pairing the new arm gesture with the target provided by a placeboard aids the dogs in understanding the new cues which will be used in gundog work to redirect them when working to find a retrieve. 

 

Placeboard training:

You will need:

  • Placeboard.
  • High-value food rewards cut into pea-sized pieces. 
  • Treats Pouch.

 

TIP: high-value food rewards include chicken/sausage/cheese/pate. It is advantageous if the food is light coloured like cheese when the reward is placed on the ground as it is easy for the dog to spot. 

 

Exercise 1: Left and right

  1. Setup a board, 5 paces away from your side (left or right).
  2. Have the dog sit in front of you.
  3. Have two high-value rewards ready for your dog.
  4. Say “Place” and point to the Placeboard beside you with an arm raised at shoulder height.
  5. Mark and reward the moment the dog is sitting on the board by saying “good”. (If they don’t, practice the steps in ‘Travel’ a little longer.)
  6. Go to the dog and reward the dog them in their seated position on the board: give 1 treat, into the dogs’ mouth with lots of praise. After, throw the 2nd treat off the board onto the floor, paired with saying your release cue “OK” to indicate the behaviour is complete.
  7. Practice sending the dog left and right an equal amount of times
  8. To progress, with the dog in front of you, don’t say “Place” and only use your arm gesture. If they travel to the board, they have learnt the cue, if not, practice the steps above a little longer.
  9. When the behaviour is established, substitute a dummy for the placeboard, and place that at 90 degrees to the dogs’ position instead and cast them out to retrieve it.

 

TIP: practice against a hedge or wall to limit options and encourage a straight run out.

 

Want a challenge?

Put the placeboard further away from you and the dog.

With each success, stand a few paces further back to handle the dog with a greater distance between you.

 

Exercise 2: Go Back

  1. Set up a board up to 5 paces behind you.
  2. Have the dog sit in front of you.
  3. Have two high-value rewards ready for your dog.
  4. Say “Place” and push your hand from your body away from you at head height so your hand moves towards the Placeboard behind you.

TIP: This hand gesture must be visually distinct from the overhead flat hand that we use to stop the dog, which looks like a policeman style stop.

  1. Mark and reward the moment the dog is sitting on the board by saying “good”. (If they don’t, practice sending from a distance a little longer.)

Check out the guide to adding distance: https://angliandogworks.com/blogs/place-board-training/placeboard-guide-2 and others in our Place Board Training section of our blogs: https://angliandogworks.com/blogs/place-board-training

  1. Go to the dog and reward the dog them in position: give 1 treat, into the dogs’ mouth, throw the 2nd treat off the board onto the floor, and say “OK”.
  2. To progress, with the dog in front of you, don’t say “Place” and only use your arm gesture. If they travel to the board, they have learnt the cue, if not, practice the steps above.
  3. Next, as you push your raised hand towards the Placeboard behind you say “back” at the same time to teach them what the verbal cue means through associative learning.
  4. When the behaviour is established, substitute a dummy for the placeboard, and place that behind the dog instead. Gesture plus say “back” to cast them behind to retrieve it.

 

Want a challenge?

  • Raise different hands to gesture back using different shoulders.
  • Put the placeboard further away from your dog so that you are sending them a further distance.
  • With each success, stand a few paces further back to handle the dog with a greater distance between you.

 

About the author:

Hi 👋 I’m Emma, accredited as a professional dog trainer by the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). I help owners of energetic dogs achieve the dog-owning life they envisioned by providing robust obedience & agility training for dogs in Balsham, near Cambridge.

DisclaimerThe content of this article does not include personalised advice and is for information purposes only. If you need individual advice or other enquiries please click here to get in contact or if you're not local to Anglian Dog Works, you can find a trainer in your area by going to the IMDT website: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer

 

Please share your questions and progress: 

We would love to see how you get on with your dog’s introduction to place boards. For tips from our trainer and to share success post your pictures and videos in the Anglian Dog Works Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/angliandogworks 


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