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.