I agree to what Cj wrote about training retrieve
all the way to delivery to hand. I have also seen how very common it is to have
bad finishes in otherwise excellent retrieves. Not only here in Sweden but also
in UK. No, I have not been to UK to see it with my own eyes on the spot but
I have bought a number of videos from the British and Irish spaniel
Championships over the years. I do not believe that the breed matters much when
it comes to the final part of the retrieve, the delivery to hand, it can be made
easy or difficult, your choice.
The rest of the retrieve work might vary a lot,
often depending of the breed and it's "will to please", or rather it's
inclination to work with anything that is offered to it to work with. Spaniels
and labs are such breeds, setters are not.
Despite of trying I can not find the proper
word in English that describes a part of a work so I call it "the element".
The last element in the retrieve work is the close approach to the handler
and safe delivery to hand. With a well trained dog this only takes a second
or two. The rest of the retrieve work might take many minutes or in some rare
cases, if we have a difficult retrieve combined with a very stubborn dog
and a patient handler, hours.
In comparison to the entire cycle of the retrieve
the last element might be considered by the handler like a piece of cake to
accomplish and herein we find the mistake. The last element is not given enough
of importance and not trained as thoroughly as the rest of the cycle. The dog is
often made to believe that the work is done when it is some meters from the
handler and it might even spit the object in front the handlers
The solution to this problem is to teach the dog
that the element is not finished when it has come as close as a few feet in
front of the handler. It is not finished when the handlers finger touches the
object. It is not even finished if the dog sits down in front of the handler and
offers the object with a raised head and the dog and the handler holds the
object simultaneously. It is not finished when the handler holds the bird
together with the dog and says "dead" or whatever command he uses to let the dog
release the bird.
No, when the dog sits and the handler also holds
the bird and the dog releases the bird on command it will know that the next
command will be "heel" and the dog is expected to jump to heel at the
handlers left side.
Now, if the dog is inclined to scamp with the
commands it will be with the last command, not when it is delivering the object.
It knows it has to come all the way into the front of the handler. Sit there
patiently until the handler pleases to grab the object AND say the release
command. It knows that it must remain sitting until commanded to heel. First
then will it expect to be released for the next retrieve or whatever. (BTW. see
our website for the "retrieving part. We are not that thorough there but
At the field or in a trial this might be a bit of
an overkill and perhaps it is. I did this with my Springer the Spaniel during
training and then, after a year or two of hunting and trialling and did not
anymore care for the heel stuff but the aim was accomplished for the rest of her
life. She made nice and reliable deliveries for the rest of her life and I could
grab the object in speed when I wanted or command her to sit and hold the object
until I pleased to take it.
In order to get this far you must do a lot of
demanding lead work and the dog must come to you like a bullet when called in,
no matter what goes on around you. Good, or should I say: Implicit basic
obedience is always the most important foundation for any special work later.
That is the simple truth!
Borta Med Vindens Kennel
"Ask not what your dog can do for you.
what you can do for your dog."www.rospigan.net