I was getting my spaniel ready for the spring and summer tests.

She was developing very well, and then she suddenly hit an invisible wall.

She has decided not to pick the dummies up and when I handle her out to the fall area she stands over the dummy and just looks at me with a blank expression.

It’s as if she is not interested any more. What do you advise?

MARK WHITEHOUSE SAYS: Give the gun dog a rest from the drills and skills of dummy training (with canvas dummies) and do some work in other areas such as hunting or some advanced control work with the whistle commands.

To start the hunting exercise you need to sit your gun dog in front of you at 12 o’clock.

Take two steps back and roll a tennis ball across the grass with your left hand to around five metres towards nine o’clock, ensuring that your gun dog has seen the ball leave your hand, and then roll another ball with your right hand across to three o’clock for the same distance.

Encourage your spaniel to hunt for the first tennis ball and when she has found it, sit her in the 12 o’clock position, and then encourage her to find the second ball.

It is repetitive, but this exercise helps teach your gun dog to quarter the ground from side to side and stop pulling forward, which most spaniels tend to do.

To build up your gun dog’s patience, start with heelwork.

Walk your gun dog at heel and then apply the stop whistle.

Check and make sure that your gun dog is in the sitting position and then you carry on walking.

This distance should be increased over a period of exercises, starting with 10 metres and building it up to 50 metres and as your distance increases always check back to make sure your gun dog has not moved.

On your return back to your gun dog don’t forget to give lots of praise so that she knows she is doing well.

This will make her feel good in all aspects of her training, which is just what you want.


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  • margaret murdoch

    I have two dog a GSD and Large Munsterlander both compete in obedience but only the Munster does field work. I had the same problem with am gsd so when it came to my large munsterland i approached the retrieve with a different angle to insure that your dog retrieves well he must know what hold means.
    Start by holding the dummie in your right hand in front of the dog move it slightly further to the right if the dog looks at it verbally praise him and reinforce the praise with a tasty treat (the treats should be behind you ie window ledge so the dog can,t get to them)repeat several times, next move your hand when the dog looks say nothing he should nudge the dummie praise and reward (if he does not go back a step )again do this several times. The next step he will look,nudge and then place his mouth on the dummie again praise and reward do several times then gradually move your hand towards the floor until your dog is picking it up from the floor you then increase the distance so the dog then retrieves the dummie on your comand( his should be able to sit and wait for your comand ) this is a gentle way to train retrieve and i found that it helps to insure game being retrieved in good condition not like some dogs who seem to be very hard mouthed Hope this helps margaret