SpotOn Training Tips from Terry
Place a game bag or article of clothing like a coat on the ground and sit the dog close beside it, this way the dog will gain some comfort and security as you back off slowly. Give the stay/stop hand signal firmly and a verbal command. Avoid backing off too far to begin with, the object of training is to succeed, not test the dog’s endurance. Walk back to the dog keeping it on station and give praise. Should the dog move always put it back to the exact spot and repeat the stay/sit command. A creeping dog can be kept on station by sitting it on a raised pallet or even a bare plastic dog bed.
Getting the dog to hunt and develop a quartering pattern
The aim must surely be to have a dog that hunts with you and for you rather than a dog which works independently of you. What little influence and control you have of the latter will slip away and that dog will soon have no use.
Here's a short video showing how I set about training a dog to hunt. The dog I use here is a complete novice to hunting, he's about 18 months old, very powerful with lots of drive and enthusiasm. Ideally I would start a dog off far, far earlier than this, never the less he's been put with me to solve other issues (problems with retrieves amongst others) and this serves as recreation for him.
My job is to convince him that everything happens around me, I am the key that unlocks his enjoyment, that we are a partnership and his success is dependent on my input. You'll see that I interact with him with voice and body language. I'm encouraging him to search in the cover, I'm using high voice tones when he's working in the way I want and I'm moving from side to side rather than forwards to get him patterning over the ground. I'm doing my best to be the leader and dictate how we hunt, let him investigate without nagging. Again it's about being close to me when I drop a tennis ball into cover. He makes a find almost at my feet which I reward with voice. The dummy retrieves help keep the dogs enthusiasm up and promote steadyness, he's succeeding, I'm in control and calling the tune throughout. I've no doubt that at the end of the session the dog has gone to his kennel on a high note!