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Place. When he's sitting, say, "Good Place, Good Sit". Toss a piece of kibble or treat off to one side. Release pup to fetch. If he breaks, start over and if needed, use a check cord to keep pup on his Place until you release him.

Okay, pup is steady to hot dogs and kibble. Now, work on heeling pup to his Place and tossing bumpers for marks. Keep a check cord on pup and stand on the end of the rope so you can reel pup back in if he breaks. Send pup and have him deliver to the Place. Once I start using bumpers and birds, the treats stop. Most hard driving spaniels could care less about food when retrieving is an option!

When pup is steady to bumpers have a helper toss dead birds as marks. After pup is steady to the marks, use clip wing or shackled birds close to pup - only about 5-10 yards away so you can control him if he attempts to break (he is still dragging his check cord). Next, use live flyers. Finally, put the gun with the birds (only if pup is already conditioned to the gun) and let the birds fly away. Have an extra clip wing or dead bird for the last throw and let pup fetch it up on command.

Get creative and set up a portable blind. Put pup's Place platform outside the blind so pup gets used to you being out of sight. Make sure you have a peephole or some way to keep an eye on pup to keep him honest. If you don't have a portable blind, set up the Place near some trees so that you can teach pup that out of sight is not out of mind. Make it as realistic of a hunting situation as possible.

Once pup understands the Place platform you can transfer the information to other "places" as well. If pup is a housedog, teach pup his dog bed is also his Place. To teach a new Place, simply lure pup to the dog bed, boat seat or truck passenger seat and treat him when he complies. Each time you add a new Place, be patient and show pup where you expect him to go.

Last, but not least, teaching pup his Place makes your job easier when teaching pup to take directions for blind retrieves. With the platform at the 'pitchers' mound', put pup in his Place. Start off easy and toss a bumper over his head for the 'back' command. Keep the check cord on him if needed. Walk away about twenty yards, face pup and cast him. Have him deliver to his Place and continue the lesson. Next work on each 'over', teaching each cast one side at a time. Once pup understands each individual cast you can toss bumpers over his head and to each side to teach pup "back" and "over". Using the Place makes this tedious job a little easier since pup has one less thing to worry about - he knows where his Place is!

Making a Place Platform
It's easy to make a Place platform. The one pictured is made with 2' x 2', pressure treated 1/2" plywood. One inch square plastic piping (or 1"x 1" lumber) is used for elevation and galvanized hinges so it can be easily folded and transported to the field or your blind. This size works well for any spaniel.

Pamela O. Kadlec is a professional trainer who specializes in training Boykin spaniels for both retriever and upland work. For more on spaniel training, check out her new book, Retriever Training for Spaniels, available through Just Ducky Publishing.

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