Mastering the Blind Retrieve with Spaniels
By David Krassler
The Spaniel Hunting test games has entered its' fifteenth
year. Boy it sure does seem like only yesterday that this sport
was introduced. Through the years we have witnessed many changes
as this game has gained in popularity. We are now starting to
see more consistencies in the set up and qualifying on the various
levels of AKC hunting tests for Spaniel.
Many of the new challenging concepts and environmental hazards
that we are experiencing at the Master level for blind retrievers
both on land and water, has made many realizing the all too important
fact that to qualify at this level we must have a Spaniel that
is trained to stop and handle during a blind retrieve scenario.
The blind retrieve occurs when a bird has fallen into an area
that the dog has not seen the bird go down. The handler must
direct the Spaniel to the fallen game by use of whistle and hand
direction. The spaniel is going because he has the confidence
in his handler that "there is a bird out there" trustingly
following the handlers' casts to the proper direction of the
fallen game. The handler must communicate a balanced attitude
of confidence to the dog. Communicating the language that "I
will get your nose down wind and you can do the rest, trust me"
There are many cases while we are hunting that a blind retrieve
properly schooled will make the difference between dinner on
the table or feeding the local predators through the winter.
With today's modern society many of the avid small game hunter
are requiring a gun dog that is capable of wearing many different
hats. Not only must the spaniel be a good family companion. But
also contend to an all around gun dog as well. Today's small
game hunter wants one dog that can do it all. Thus waterfowling
is becoming more and more of a demand on the Spaniel today. In
the duck business the blind retrieve is used more often than
in upland game. Mainly due to the type of cover that surrounds
those special spots that hold the ducks. Naturally marking a
difficult issue to say the least! Many times the scenario is
that the Spaniel has not seen the location of a fallen duck and
they must take a line for a blind retrieve.
The upland hunt can additionally requiring a blind retrieve as
well. Issues such as sending your spaniel to the opposite bank
of a river, or pond to retrieve a crippled bird that has gone
down out of reach.
Teaching the blind retrieve takes several steps to accomplish.
This forum we will teach in separate pieces like a puzzle each
component schooled separately. Then finally all pieces will be
constructed together to do a true blind retrieve. We must first
develop good attitude and a strong desire on blinds. When we
send our spaniel to search for a blind bird. They should leave
our side in the same fashion as they would if we were sending
them for a marked retrieve. This will be the most difficult thing
to maintain through out this stage of training. Once we have
developed proper attitude and desire. The spaniel will work very
hard to "please" and take their cast with enthusiasm
Lining will be taught to get the spaniel to take a good initial
line in the direction of the blind bird. Stopping is incorporated
to stop the spaniel once they have drifted off the initial line.
Finally casting will