I have a question regarding the send away.
First of all, I'd love to know what different people use as a target. Do you do the Michael Ellis system where he has a pad on the floor, that's the target, and then he recalls for the reward? Do you use a send-away stick and put the reward there? Do you use another object (cone, goal post, tree, etc)?
I personally worked with a send-away stick, just an L shaped stick that I can hang the toy off of or lay the toy next to. At this point, we have the down on the send away, we have our cue in place (standing opposite the long leg of the obedience pattern facing away from target, give the cue (where's your toy?), turn around, cue the dog with my left hand to look ahead, fuss a little and send away).
My observation of what he knows: I can place a toy at the target without him knowing its there. When I cue him, he'll look straight ahead to find it. If he can see it, I'll get a nice straight line to it. The problem is when he cant see the target when I cue him. He'll still run out, but stop after 15 steps or so, look at me at which point I'll have to give another command to get him to keep going.
Then, out of necessity (the stick broke lol) I started using light poles, trees, etc, basically anything that is at the far end of the ob leg.
So far, so good. But where to now? Besides what you use to teach it as I asked earlier I'm looking for some advice to help him generalize the send away.
I heard some things:
1. Get 4 send away sticks and put them in 4 corners, then send the dog to each on from the center
2. Use the goalpost at the end of the field as a send away marker - I'm not crazy about using anything in the field because (just IMO) 1. its not really a send away, it becomes like a placed retrieve and 2. You wont always have your homefield advantage.
3. Keep using what you have, and keep placing toys at the target when the dog is away or distracted, so he'll grow to believe that by running away from you in a straight line he'll eventually find the toy - but then doesn't that turn into a search exercise?
As you can see, I'm a little confused.
I'm also confused as to what picture do I want in the dog's head. He's not really running to something but rather away from the handler right? But that seems sort of abstract for a dog's mind.
Anyway, I'd love to hear advice from the more experienced folks (by that I mean more experienced than me