Double Marks On Land
Marking - Part IV
by Jim and Phyllis Dobbs
In previous articles, we covered the elements of training the dog
to mark singles accurately. Now it is time to develop your dog's ability
to retrieve double marks.
When you set up your doubles, keep in mind these four points for marking
the young dog:
- Make sure the memory mark is visible against the background by
using either three-inch black and white "contrast bumpers" or large
- Throw marks at a right angle. Right angle marks are more visible
than marks thrown at other angles. Straight-back or straight-in
throws are very difficult for the beginning dog to mark well.
- Make the mark easy to see when the dog gets into the area of the
fall. If the fall is going to be in cover, toss wet birds around
where the mark is going to fall. This increases scent and will
help him put on a tight hunt.
- Set up the majority of your memory marks with a tail wind.
Side wind marks will cause the dog to fade to the down wind side
and he will learn to depend on his nose to find his marks instead
of his eyes and memory.
In doubles, the "memory bird" is the first bird thrown and should
be short and easy for the dog to remember. The "go bird" is the last
bird thrown and the first one the dog is sent to retrieve.
Start easy; begin with wide spread double marks. Gradually increase
the distance to the memory bird as the dog's skills improve. Next
lengthen the distance to the go bird in order to increase the time
it takes before the dog is sent for the memory bird.
Lining is a very important element of multiple marking. Before narrowing
the angle between marks, teach the dog to go as sent and hold a line.
We teach the following drills to improve the dog's lining ability
before giving him "tight marks".
- Push/Pull Drill- (RJ-April/May 97)- trains the dog to move his
head left or right.
- Three in a Row Drill- (RJ-Feb./March 98)- teaches the dog to hold
a line when the angle between the bumper piles becomes narrow
- Obstacle Drill- (RJ-June/July 98)- teaches the dog to go through
rather than around four typical types of obstacles: clumps of cover,
the corner of a pond, a mound of dirt and the end of a log.
- "W" Drill- (RJ-June/July 98)- teaches the dog to go as sent.
- Chair Drill- (RJ-Feb./March 98)- conditions the dog to run past
gunning stations without flaring away from them.
A good way to get the dog prepared for running doubles is to run a
single mark and then send him to a permanent or marked blind. We like
to introduce this concept on the modified "T" drill (RJ-Dec./Jan.
96-97). The four patterns are shown in diagrams 1-4.
The dog will get used to retrieving a mark and than a blind. Now,
when running a double, he will have the confidence to go on the memory
bird even if he is not too sure of the fall.
It will help make this stage of training easier if the dog has been
well schooled on the push-pull drill and will let you help him focus
on the correct line.
Diagram 5 shows another type of diversion, a crosswind mark that is
past the memory bird. The dog must learn to hold the line and not
veer off to the closer mark.
Configurations To Practice
- Into the wind memory bird throw(Diagram 6). Gauge the distance
of the memory bird to the dog's ability to hold a line in a crosswind.
- "Hip Pocket" double (Diagram 7)- gradually narrows the angle to
- "Over and under" (Diagram 8)-marks begin with the second fall
10 yards away. Gradually increase the distance to the short mark.
If the dog starts to hunt in the area of the short mark when sent
for the long mark, shorten the distance in the next set up.
In our next article on marking we will address some common problems,
"over running", "switching" and "head swinging."