How to Set Up a Tree Stand Problem
Wait for a nice cool day with ideal scent conditions.
You want your dog to easily smell the concealed subject. This is a good rule to follow anytime you are introducing the dog to something new.
Be sure to test the wind around the tree stand as well as from the inside and at the top of the ladder.
Choose a tree stand out of the sun to avoid chimney and lofting air effects. A nice cool day with very little wind is best.
Go back to the beginning
Start with a runaway. Have the dog watch the subject run or walk to the tree stand and climb up. Then let the dog go with his search command just like you had done so long ago.
Have the subject dangle his legs over the edge of the tree stand to start.
Make sure to cue everything.
Your dog might believe a new type of game is being introduced. Giving him all of his commands and hints will drive home this is a search game. Call him back as soon as he gets to the tree stand and looks up at the person he found. Ask him for his indication right before he gets to you. It is ok to accept a less than perfect indication the first few times. Expect a good indication after you have done the same problem a few times. I do not remove the cue on new things until the dog is finding the person reliably at about 90% of the time. Then I still randomly cue him.
Reward instantly at the source
Tie a rope to the dog’s reward toy. Make it long enough to reach the ground plus at least another five feet or so. Have the person in the tree stand reward the dog from the tree stand. Do not wait for the person come down to play with the dog. Grom likes to tug, and will do so at the end of the rope. Whatever your dog’s reward, make sure he receives it from the subject while still in the tree stand. The subject may come down from the tree stand to finish rewarding the dog.
Increase the difficulty of the problem gradually
The rule is, make only one thing more difficult at a time. If you increase the distance to the tree stand, have the subject dangle his legs over the edge again and cue the dog. If you have moved from runaways to a blind, start closer to the tree stand, have the person dangle his legs over the side, and cue the dog. Do not move from a runaway to a blind search twice the distance from the tree stand with the subject completely concealed.
Have a Plan and know what you’re going to accept
Before you start your problem visualize it in your head and make sure you’ve set things up the way you want them. Know the conditions in and around the tree stand. Know what your subject is going to do on each run so you can give clear instructions like “make sure to dangle your legs over the edge.” Remember to cue your dog. Know before hand what you’re going to accept for an indication so that when it happens you don’t have to make a decision like “was that good enough?” and maybe most important, Reward At The Source.
Good luck and remember, we’re having fun here!