He made plenty of mistakes, such as moving on the flush and chasing hares, but he got progressively better.

With lots of correcting exercises I feel that I have moulded him into a good beating gun dog. I am disappointed that the season has been and gone so quickly.

Should I pursue some working tests throughout the close season to progress my gun dog’s training?

MARK WHITEHOUSE SAYS: I find that working tests are also great opportunities to develop your gun dog’s handling skills.

And, as with most spaniels, hunting is never questionable, but handling can cause plenty of problems if not installed correctly.

Your local spaniel club should hold both novice and open working tests in the close season and this gives beginners the opportunity to participate without being overpowered or feeling uncomfortable.

A novice test would start with a short hunt up for two gun dogs and then a shot would be fired.

At this point both gun dogs would be expected to stop to the shot and a dummy may well be thrown.

One of the two gun dogs would then be expected to retrieve the dummy while the other gun dog sits and watches patiently.

This exercise would then be repeated for the other gun dog after another short hunt.

These tests can also include cross retrieves and short blind retrieves and this is where your handling skills must be at their best.

A gun dog that hunts well and – handles well will always be in the awards at a working test.

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