Lately some of the folks have mentioned my use of the “controlled crash.” I think I’ve made a post or two about it but must have been a while ago because I can’t find it, so I doubt if the new folks can.
For me, the controlled crash usually happened about the 8th week of training, so that would be about 40 sessions. Pup had gone through all the foundation building and could be cued to stop with a bump from the rope, a tap from the e-collar or a spoken “whoa.” He was stopping on wild flush with no cue from me and would stand through the entire flight waiting for me to take him to another bird.
He was rock solid on point and steady whether the bird was blanked or killed. He was to the point where he was dragging the rope as we worked through the bird field but had not yet figured out that I had dropped the rope.
At this point he was responding to single syllable cues to turn or stop and when on point, standing steady to wing and shot, waiting for me to either send him for a retrieve or take him to another bird.
Up until now the e-collar had only been set at cue levels but now I bumped it up a couple notches. To the inexperienced eye he looked like a finished dog, but he was on a plateau with little apparent day to day progress. I kept him there for a while watching the wheels turn and waiting for what I call the “tape measure eye” where he would start measuring how far I was from him and his find.
Until he hit the plateau, I would waste little time producing his birds. Now, I was in a waiting game and would take my time getting to him, knowing that eventually he was going to take the opportunity to cheat. In other words I was setting him up for the controlled crash.
I had it a little simpler than most because I only used freshly caught, kited, feral pigeons so all I had to concentrate on was pup and the bird. Eventually, not always on the first setup, pup would get the idea that he was on his own and rip out his bird.
The trick was to time the corrective e-tap with the instant the bird lifts off. You don’t want to correct him with that first step but for the greater sin of busting his bird. You want a light thumb. Just a quick tap, or two or three. Real quick like and you want to be quick enough to stop the instant you see the brakes come on so you are not correcting him for stopping.
Then go to him, stroke him up, take him to another bird, kill it for him and have the help carry it back to him.
The rest of the summer can be spent fine tuning him.
One controlled crash. One correction. But a lot of foundation building first