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How can I improve my spaniel’s retrieving skills?

He is a youngster, a great hunter but an average retriever.

When she is sent for a retrieve she goes with speed and conviction, but when she gets to the fall she either hunts over the area and completely blanks it, picks up the retrieve before abandoning it upon smelling a fresh scent, or picks the retrieve and circles me wanting to hold on to it.

What can I do?

Mark Whitehouse says:
These are all important exercises and with a youngster it’s better to get them straightened out as soon as possible.

Go back to basics and make sure you have full control over all areas of basic obedience.

Over-training on the recall whistle will come in handy with a dog who is over-exuberant during the hunt.

Go out onto an open field, starting close and with a single retrieve to keep things simple with no distractions.

When she gets into the area close to the dummies remember to give her lots of encouragement and praise.

This should help give her more direction when she is sent out for a retrieve.

Dropping retrieves to go off hunting is quite common with spaniels.

With this exercise, run the dog down and when you catch up with her, take her back to the area where she had abandoned the retrieve.

Reinstate the retrieve into her mouth, and then change the tone of your voice, giving the firm command to hold it, fetch it in and deliver to hand.

This would also help with the problem of running around and not giving the retrieve up.

Back up to a fence, hedge or gate so that she can’t run around you.

Channel her into the front and use the same verbal commands to hold and deliver in.

For more gundog training advice click here