Spaniel Training Tips for the Weekend Warrior - Page 2

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Question: What types of things can I do to my training grounds to build the confidence in my young spaniel?

Answer: When you stop to think about it we do the majority of our training during the poorest conditions of the year. Summer and early fall are hot and usually the cover is at its greenest.

Developing a young dog takes building confidence. When conditions are poor you may find it helpful to work the younger dog early or late in the day when scenting is better. Keep your sessions short and expand them as confidence grows and the conditions improve.

Dense green cover has a lot of chlorophyll (think of a freshly cut green lawn) which overpowers a lot of scent and can scenting birds very challenging. I like to break up green training cover by driving through it with a tractor and highly positioned bushhog or by dragging a wooden pallet behind an ATV. By breaking the cover up while it is still in its growing phase this varies the cover and creates openings which will fill in at various heights.

By going in a figure eight side to side pattern in the direction you would normally train you create broken cover in the directions you would like your dog to pattern. This creates less of a barrier to a young dog and many find it easier to gain confidence during the earlier quartering lessons. By breaking up the cover scent it is more readily available to the dog and again builds confidence by finding birds in a timely manner.

Later in the summer as scenting improves you can work out of the groomed cover into a more natural pattern and conditions having developed pattern and instilled confidence.

Good training,

Jim Keller and his wife, Denise, own and operate Wildwind Kennels located in the heart of grouse and woodcock country in mid-coastal Maine. They work with all bird dog breeds specializing in flushing spaniels. Jim is a full time dog trainer with over 17 years of experience working with bird dogs for hunting and performance events. He campaigns a limited group of spaniels in the U.S. and Canada in Field Trials having trained several field champions, and actively participating in the Hunt Test program. Jim is also a registered Maine guide, working for some of the finest sporting camps in Maine's northwoods for grouse and woodcock. Jim can be reached at:

Jim Keller
Wildwind Kennels and Guide Service
1368 Webb Road
Knox, Maine 04986
(207)568-3575 Kennel
(207)322-6236 Cell

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