Mark Whitehouse says: Dogging-in at the beginning of the season when the pheasants are young, naïve and plentiful allows your spaniel to get very close, resulting in lots of flushes at close range.
Unfortunately, with inexperienced spaniels, as the pheasants become older and more aware of what is happening they do not hang about and this has a knock-on effect because it causes our spaniels to pull forward trying to catch up with the game.
There are two options with this problem – if you have a few spaniels you could walk one at heel on the lead and keep swapping at short intervals. This will help with the switch on/switch off method of spaniel training. This method also helps to reduce fatigue, which in turn means your spaniel will be more responsive to whistle commands.
The second option is one of reward. Hunt your spaniel for a short spell and if you have not had a flush and feel that your spaniel is pulling on, drop a partridge or pheasant in some cover and then direct your spaniel on to the area and allow him to pick and retrieve. This helps with keeping the distance to a minimum and you in touch with your charge during spaniel training.
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