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Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Eventually, you can teach your spaniel simple hand signals.
Photo by: Marcia Krassler
Our focus is to teach the pup that there are birds on both sides of you. All the dog needs to do is go out far enough to find them. Now this beginning stage of pattern introduction goes against the “Bible of flushing dog training” when we all know, you should always cast your dog off in the opposite direction of the flush or retrieve, whichever the final scenario maybe. However, you are not going to continue this unorthodox technique for long. Once your pup takes its entail cast you will go right into the format of casting off to the opposite side of the find. Now you can start to toss a bird for the spaniel to find on every 2nd cast to each side.

Once the dog has established a good solid pattern, its time to start to mix things up. Give him a bird every 3rd cast one day. Change the number of casts to find birds on the next training day. Keeping the dog questing makes the young spaniel start to run harder to find his birds. The final stage of training is when the spaniel fails to totally complete a pass to one side by cutting it short and turning up field before completing the 10-yard pass on the handler. Roll a bird in for him to find on the side that he came up short on. Thus, he will find a bird on the next pass on that side. Naturally, this will help to keep your spaniel honest to complete his cast before turning up field.

You should be very careful not to let your dog catch you rolling a bird in for him to find once he has been in pattern work for a long duration of time. This will cause him to start popping and this is the most difficult fault issue that you can deal with here. The spaniel will start to turning and/or stopping to look back at you hopping to catch you once again rolling a bird in. Some spaniels are so keyed into this pitfall of error that they actually will listen for the thumping sound as the bird hits the cover.

Eventually, you can start to roll in fliers for the youngster and shoot them for long marked retrieves. The final stage is maintaining a proper blend of clipped winged pigeons and fliers to maintain good solid pattern work; while starting more advanced field training such as steady to wing and shot, for example. Next month I will concentrate on the three-man drill for starting your flushing dog’s pattern work. Then finally, we will discuss how to handle a down-wind pattern and the all-difficult crosswind.

About the Author: David Krassler is a native New Englander, who resides in the Berkshire Mountain Range of western Massachusetts. David and his wife, Marcia, have owned operated Citari Kennel since 1985. Together David and Marcia offer clients 35 years of professional breeding and training experience. As a professional trainer, active seminarist, and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association, David consistently strives to take the mystery out of the training and breeding top performing field dogs. For more information on Citari Kennel visit
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