Spaniel Training Articles
As a professional trainer myself, one of the things that I see most is improper introduction of various experiences to a young dog. This is generally called “socialization,” and it is the single most important thing that you can do with your dog.
In my opinion, the most important instincts that we as trainers should concentrate on with any young flushing dog, other than maintaining their natural retrieving instinct, is developing their ability to track and then trail game to the point of forcing the game into flight. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have seen upland birds scurry off while a young spaniel attempts to figure out which direction the bird headed, while attempting to decipher its scent trail.
David Lauber has more than 7 years of professional training experience while at Denalisunflo Kennels, where he trained and handled some of the top field trial spaniels in the country. This month, in a discussion with David Lauber, he explains the step-by-step process of introducing a young dog to retrieving and birds.
W ell folks, out here on the East Coast it’s getting close to be that time of year! Time for us to head out afield for opening day of bird season. Many enthusiasts are looking forward to making this season a memorable one. Every new season brings new folks to the sport of small game hunting and the world of Spanieling. As with any new sport, there also come many pitfalls and obstacles for the newcomer to endure. Newcomers with spaniels should be very cautious as to how they handle themselves and their spaniel during the first season of upland game hunting.
Last issue we discussed the one-man drill training technique employed in teaching a spaniel to develop a proper hunting pattern. This month we will cover the “three man drill”. This is the drill that is most commonly used by professionals for refining pattern work in preparation for the sporting dog games and will produce a very nicely polished hunting pattern.
All flushing dog owners want our gundogs to stay well within gun range while questing for upland game. However, having a dog that will work the proper hunting pattern in all wind directions is just as important. All flushing dogs use their noses as the primary sense for locating game while hunting. Naturally, they must also have a properly developed hunting pattern that will assist them in using the wind to their advantage for locating game scent. Let’s face it; small game hunters know that it is virtually impossible to always work our dogs into the wind while searching for game. Those of us that enjoy the sporting dog games are very well aware of tests being intentionally set up to examine a dog’s bird finding ability in difficult wind direction! A good flushing dog will change his hunting pattern to properly address the wind direction using every possible advantage in locating game with his nose.
The day has arrived; the new puppy is with us. Volumes have been written on the proper care and handling of those warm, cuddly, squirming creatures. Our bookshelves are full of them and we didn’t even make their purchase. The books are GIVEN to us by friends and family who are well meaning and well aware of our dog fanaticism. It’s true, when we read this literature we find valuable information relating to us as humans and our personal relationship with our new addition, but those of us who own more than one dog know we have another valuable resource in our midst.
With modern society’s hectic scheduling and the constant rivalry of the rat race, many of us professional trainers are being asked to train gun dogs to handle many different varieties of small game. The modern small game hunter has limited time, resources and space in the family setting to allow them only one hunting companion. Thus, we, as professionals are asked to teach our students how to work and handle various types of small game. Turning our pupils into a multi-purpose sporting dog in the field, educating and refining them to become very productive “all around gun dogs” is the expectation of our clients.
Since it is that time of year and many folks now have added a new future hunting partner to their clan, I thought that I would take this opportunity to touch on some of the basics and some of the subconscious training that a professional trainer does when dealing with a very young spaniel during the introductory stage to field work.
All outdoor enthusiasts who take the sport of small game hunting seriously know the value that is put on having a well-bred gundog with them during the long awaited hunting season. The fact is without a good dog you may as well leave your shotgun at home and spend the day by taking a walk in the park.