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.