“I have a 15-month-old Labrador and I want to teach him to go left and right, but my friends tell me it is a waste of time and unnecessary unless I plan to field trial with the dog. Although I have no plans to compete with the dog, I will use him for both driven and some walked-up shooting. So, is it a skill I need to train him in, and if so how is the best way to go about it?”
Long before your pup is ready for any formal directional training, the foundations can be put in place in a gradual way. Whether you have a retriever or spaniel, early “hunting” exercises can be a good opportunity to get the dog to follow your hands. A good way to do this is to put biscuits or hide tennis balls in long grass and “indicate” with your hands the direction that you want the pup to look. It is surprising how quickly they cotton on to following your hands.