I found some lovely training videos of when Quling was a puppy so I today I’ll share them with you.

I love to spend time thinking about what kind of ground training my puppy needs so that we in the future can do the activities I want us to do. To give the dog a solid ground training is very important to me. I also think that it is quite boring to spend a lot of time to fix behaviors that went wrong because I didn’t put in enough effort in the first place. If I want to do a solid ground training, I have to study the puppy that I have in front of me and think about what that puppy might need to work on.

Right now, I am training my puppy Quling (he is soon six months old) and at the same time I have an online puppy training class, so you could say that I’m attending the class at the same time as I’m creating it. 😉 The first task of this class is to study the puppy based on a few different features, such as ability to follow, ability to relax and object interest. Each puppy owner should then make a short analysis of the puppy and a plan for what features they need to focus a little extra on. And this plan might need revision many times during the first few months that the owner spends with the puppy, because naturally, things can change.

I think that it is possible to discover certain things early in a puppy’s life and those things are still there later on. It may, of course, be connected both to heritage and environment, but regardless of which, I start to reinforce the things I like and also, consciously, train the things I want the puppy to be better at. It is usually not revolutionary stuff, but minor issues that can be controlled so that I, as far as possible, can avoid problems that I otherwise have to fix later on.

The basic rule is to avoid letting the puppy train himself to do the wrong things all the time in everyday life, because then the dog will do wrong things in the training as well. (The things we do again and again we get very good at – and that applies to all creatures.) If I let the puppy run around about 50 yards away from me all the time, it is certainly not good when it comes to the puppy’s adherence and attention to me. What does it do to his ability to work very close to me later on (which is so important if you have a spaniel that should work right in front of your feet)?

When it comes to basic training in general, I start with easy and playful exercises that are all parts in the training that I need when my dog and I go hunting or do hunting tests. I practice for only a very short time and I always study my dog after the training. Is the puppy stressed? Can he relax? If not, what in my training made the dog stressed? Was the training session too long? Too intense? Then I make changes in the training before next time!

Among those things that are easy and playful to begin to teach the puppy is to stop at flush. Every dog owner in the world who has a dog that is interested in hunting should teach the dog this, because no one wants their dog to run after game, if it’s not that type of hunting dog of course. 😉

In this exercise, I throw a ball and hold my arms like a fence around the puppy. If he wants to run after the ball, I just hold him back. As soon as the dog does the smallest indication to pull a little backwards, prevent himself or even to sit down, I let the dog run off after the ball.

This is the second time we do the exercise and that’s why I wait for him to sit down, because he started to do that last time we trained.

Stop at flush, puppy exercise number 1:

Sometimes the puppy drops the toy too soon when he comes back with it (this is a challenge for Quling) so therefore I train this in many different ways very early. One way is to not take the toy from the puppy when he comes back, instead just hold the puppy and maybe play a little with it, until I then very clearly say thank you. That my hands are stretched out towards the puppy and the object should never mean that he should drop the toy. The puppy has to learn that he can only let go of the toy when I say so.

Another exercise that is fun and easy is the first casting exercise, and then I use a food bowl. This is very easy to do in everyday life at home in the kitchen. I start to teach the puppy to sit and look at the bowl and then go to it on my cue. Then I use the cue “ut” (Swedish version of the commonly used “back” cue in the UK) before I say the cue that means that the puppy can go to the bowl, and as soon as he starts to go when I say “ut” I use only that one word. After that I start to use a hand signal. I place my hand next to or over the puppy’s head and when he looks at the food bowl which I am pointing at I say “ut”. Here you can see the three steps. At this point I have moved the exercise out on the lawn. (He has done all the steps before, hence I can show all three in a row now, and usually the dogs on our course learn the whole chain with the three steps after only a couple of repetitions.

Soon after that, I start to train my puppy further away from the food bowl, use another environment, place the food bowl sometimes a little hidden and then later completely hidden, and so on. I have started the fun casting training! It’s a good idea to have an assistant, who can take away the bowl, if the puppy runs off before you have said your cue, then you don’t have to cheat as I do here, 😉 and sometimes hold a hand on him s when I send him off. And you don’t have to stop the puppy, if he runs in, because I don’t think it is a good idea if you have to do it several times  –  some dogs don’t like it and might feel unhappy about it. There is one important thing that I do all the time, and that is that I let the puppy run off at my cue “ut” as soon as I see that he stares at the bowl, in the direction that my hand points. Sometimes I say the cue very quickly and sometimes it takes longer time.

These are some of the things I do with my puppy, if you want to do more puppy training you can read more and join our online puppy course ”Hello’, who’s this then?” here.


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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