Holding an area is one of my favorite exercises – it is a great game to teach your dog whether you have ambitions to compete or not. The dog gets to use his fine nose and at the same time learn to stop from full speed and wait until you tell him to start searching or hunting. Then the dog will hunt in a restricted area.
You can teach all dogs to hold an area – as a nice and interesting activation exercise. I have heard that many people who have a spaniel don’t bother to teach their dogs to hold an area because it is not needed when spaniels hunts. Maybe that’s true, but I think that this exercise is so fun that I taught my spaniel Tassla to hold an area anyway.
Last summer Elsa and I made a film that shows how you can teach a dog to hold an area. I would like to show it to you and also give you an example of another exercise for anybody who wants to learn a slightly more advanced exercise. But first the film:
One typical problem that your dog might have when he holds an area is that he hunts in an area that is too big. In the beginning, it is also usual that dogs take a few steps towards the handler before they start hunting. Another major challenge might be to stop the dog when he enters the area where he is supposed to hunt. If you want to compete it is always good to be able to direct your dog to the place you want him to be and not where he wants to be. Furthermore, it is always good to do many exercises when the dog actually listens to you and doesn’t just do what he wants.
The three different challenges mentioned above will be trained in the next exercise. Catharina Fahlberg and Sam will show you how it should be done. Catharina did this exercise with some of the students at a summer camp for spaniels that we arranged a while ago.
Don’t forget to take it slowly. The dog needs to know the stop whistle, the hunt whistle and to stay in the area – even when you move away – and she hears the hunt whistle.