Gun dog expert
This part of a dog’s education is very much an advanced training lesson so you need not worry about it until your dog has mastered just about everything else.
In my view it only needs to be taught when a dog is fully capable of finding blind – or unseen – retrieves.
For these retrieves it’s down to you, as the handler, to direct the dog to the locality of the fall and let him do the rest.
In the field, proper, of course your dog will be expected to retrieve game which is pricked (and run on) or has fallen and you didn’t take a proper mark on it.
In other words, the dog will have to pick up a scent trail, and follow it.
With experience most dogs will learn to do this naturally but it does no harm ‘showing them the ropes’ so to speak; by doing so you help boost their confidence.
What you do is prepare scent trails with cold game and direct the dog into the area of the ‘fall’, allowing it to take the line and find the game – either a rabbit or pheasant.
It’s important that you do not leave your own scent on the prepared line otherwise the dog will quickly get used to following that, not the game scent. To avoid this, use a strong fishing rod and reel, tie the retrieve to the nylon and lob it out a few yards.
Now wind it back to you, untie the retrieve and go get your dog.
As ever it’s important to do things in stages so don’t expect the dog to work too long a ‘line’ from the outset.
Build the distance gradually until your pupil is happy working 25 to 30 yards once the penny drops the dog will learn to follow game for long distances, find it, and return quickly.