When Tassla was a puppy I didn’t know that much about hunting with spaniels. I did a lot of obedience training at that time, but I had started to get an interest in hunting. However, I didn´t now what kind of qualifications or basic skills a hunting dog should have. Tassla was absolutely amazing – she was quick and smart and wonderful to work with. After a few years we had started to train obedience on elite level, but at the same time the hunt training began to take over, and I no longer wanted to train obedience at that level, because it meant that I had to invest so much that it would be difficult to do anything else.

When Quling was little I knew a lot more about hunting and I could early on see things that I liked and things that I didn’t like. And I trained a lot on those things that I knew that a spaniel would need while hunting, but the process was very slow because the first year when Quling was a puppy, I had a very difficult year personally, and because Quling was sick quite often.

Now that Flippa has moved in, I know more exactly what I like, want and need in order for her to become a great hunting dog in the future. And most of these things are really easy. She has so many innate qualities that are easy to “capture” in the right moment, that is I can reward her for things that she just does – and then she knows how to do them. She gets everything really fast.

An example is the stop signal. I tried to blow a stop signal when she was near me, and she stopped immediately and looked at me. I rewarded the behavior a few times during our walk, and then I tested again when we were training. And yes, the puppy was able to sit at a distance of ten yards, without me having to train the stop signal in two parts, first that she stops and then afterwards train the distance. What can I say? Wow!

It sounds easy and luxurious, but there is a snag. I haven’t done any ground training of that specific behavior, so therefore I don’t have anything to fall back on. It means that if I one day should get problems, I have no basic skills, no proficiencies that I have used to build the behavior step by step. I can’t split the behavior into parts and then single out one of them and improve just that part, if needed.

So, after being filled with happiness because everything is so easy, I have started to train some basic skills, otherwise my whole training system will collapse. What can I do, if things go wrong and I have no smaller parts to go back to and work on? I am a trainer that work with rewards, and therefore I need specific things to reward. There are always some parts in a specific behavior that can be rewarded and developed so that I can get a really great behavior.

No, I don’t think it can be too easy. 🙂 But it can go too fast! Fast and then also wrong. And the basic training means so much, and now I have decided that I will teach Flippa the stop signal from the beginning, even though it feels very strange to start in reverse order. But it is actually a luxury problem. 🙂


Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training
Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training

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