Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 31

 ace your thumb down toward the ground so the dog will see the backside of your hand. This will keep you arm at a ninety degree angle to your body. Thus preventing you from making a casting mistake and throwing and angle back that will confuse your dog. Now for the right hand cast repeat the procedure only to the right hand side. Does your hand casting look clear and clean to you in the mirror along with your body language? It should and if it does I am sure that it will look as good to your spaniel out in the field.
Now it is time to start teaching your spaniel. Take a couple of white dummies, a flat collar and a check cord to the field. It is advisable to keep you dog on a check cord at this point. Remember we are going to keep this training short and in the form of a game at first. We want to develop good attitude and desire while teaching the introduction of casting. Lets keep it simple so there will be no need for correction in the beginning.
Picture in your mind a baseball diamond. The spaniel will be on the pitcher mound and we will be throwing the dummies and casting to first, second and third base.
Set your spaniel at a remote hup on the pitcher mound with them only five yards in front of you. Give them a reminder to hup and toss a dummy straight over the top of their head landing only seven or so yards away at second base where they can see it. Only hesitate a second or so and execute the back command. They may be reluctant to go at first but continue to give the command and coax them in a lavishing voice until they make the retrieve. Delivery of the dummy should be in the remote position facing you. Too much movement on side delivery can confuse the dog. We will only teach the Back command first. Once the back command is well learn. You now can start to teach the left and right-hand overs by using the same technique. The spaniel should be taking all three casts consistently when the retrieving dummies are thrown to all three bases.
Step two with four dummies in hand and your spaniel on the pitcher mound. Throw a dummy to each base first, second and third base. Keeping the last dummy for you in hand. Take the check cord in your hand and choose which dummy you would like them to pickup first. Should they choose the wrong one, give a normal tone no tug on the check cord stopping them from retrieving the wrong dummy. Place them back on the pitcher mound and throw the extra dummy that you have to the proper base and send the dog. Continue to drill this until you can get the dog to pickup all the dummies around the bases at random selection.
Step three we now can set out three distinct piles of dummies. A minimum of three different colored dummies per pile, get your spaniel and randomly cast as you desire to pick up all the dummies. Some spaniels will get confused as to which dummy in the pile to pick up. We can help them with this by separating the dummies two feet away from each other. Do not make an issue if they switching at the dummy pile just encourage a retrieve. We want them to stay focused on proper hand cast not worried as to which dummy in the pile is to be pick up first! They will become quick on their pickups at the dummy pile as they gain in confidence.
Help them when they get confused by again stopping them and throwing a dummy to the proper pile and send for the retrieve. Now you will find that some dogs will have a problem say with a left hand over or maybe the back command. Simply do a few extra drills of the weak cast for the spaniel and try to end the session on that weak cast being completed.
Now you can start to extend your casts by moving you piles further away from the pitcher mound. You now are well on your way to your dog taking a cast during the blind retrieve. However do not attempt to handle your dog on anything other than the above yard work. This is only one small piece to the puzzle. Next month I will address the lining drills. Enjoy your Spaniels they are a wonderful gift!

About the Author: David Krassler is a native New Englander, who resides in the Berkshire Mountain Range of western Massachusetts. David and his wife Marcia have owned operated Citari Kennel since 1985. Together David and Marcia offer clients an impressive 35 years of professional breeding and training experience. As a professional trainer, active seminarist, and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association David consistently strives to take the mystery out of the training and breeding top performing field dogs. For more information on Citari Kennel visit www.citarikennel.com.

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