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Since I have already mentioned differing training methods, it is interesting that Erlandson comments on that, too. To learn how to train a spaniel, he says, one must "read up on the subject as comprehensively as possible, sifting through the inevitably differing advice proffered by various authors and working out what methods seem to make the most sense, always bearing in mind that similar results can frequently be obtained by differing methods."

Some might describe Erlandson's books as presenting the "traditional English styles of training", but I would not be so quick to categorize it as such. Certainly it deals with things like the "rabbit pen". However, in The Working Springer Spaniel Erlandson discusses the different aspects of Springer trialing in the UK, Canada, the US and on the Continent. I have seen many other books that were much narrower in their application. Furthermore, it is not a training "cookbook" in the traditional sense.

The first six chapters deal with information about the Springer. Its origins, some comments about breeding considerations such as size, hips and eyes, and how to select a puppy. While much has been learned since the publication of this book in 1995 regarding hips and eyes, the information is still interesting.

The next section addresses preliminary training and equipment required, with a very good commentary on appropriate guns to use around puppies. Mixed in with this technical information are a few chapters on game and game scent.

Next we are presented with the basics of spaniel training: steadiness, patterns, retrieving and water work. Obedience is addressed at various places in the book. There are many useful diagrams that explain quartering and wind direction, a critical issue with spaniel work.

As mentioned before, this book is not the most linear in its presentation. After the bulk of the training chapters, Erlandson goes back to a discussion of breeding. Perhaps this is appropriate, after all, one would not want to breed until after the dog has been proven in the field.

"I find it extremely irritating when show people tell me that the arbitrary breed standards which are laid down for show dogs will actually enhance a dog's performance."

Erlandson devotes a chapter to "The Importance of a Good Mouth". Here Erlandson states: "taking into account the large numbers of articles written by American writers, it seems that the incidence of hard mouth on that continent is greater than we would expect to find in our top working dog and field trial lines in Britain." While many would disagree with his distant assessment, I will say that he makes a good case for "mouth" to be a primary breeding consideration.

His chapter on "The Principles of Breeding Good Spaniels" gives one an different view of many of the prominent British bloodlines plastering pedigrees today. Not everyone would agree with his assessments, but at least he presents some frank opinions. Dale Carnigie it's not. A similar chapter discusses more generic considerations in breeding, and presents some information about bringing along a litter of pups.

Most useful (perhaps) for those interested in linebreeding and pedigrees are Erlandson's individual assessments of each (UK) Championship winner from 1957 to 1993. Candid observations like "very stylish but a terrible dog with no brains" probably got him invited to many social events after this book was published - not!

A few chapters on Field Trails are quite interesting. His discussion of Field Trails in France, Holland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, sheds light on these activities in Europe. He also spends some time explaining the difference in trialing between the US, Britain, Canada and elsewhere.

Cocker owners, it seems, are forever relegated to buying Springer books to glean a few chapters on cockers. This book continues that "tradition" with a few chapters on the working cocker (ECS). Every time I read such descriptions, as in this book, it makes me want to go out and get one, being one who has an affinity for small hyper-springers. As Cocker owners in the US have found, it is critical to make sure that pups are obtains from working English stock. Erlandson gives some information on those bloodlines, including his own stock.

Erlandson, not unlike the Cockers he describes, is "highly amusing" and possesses "a devilish sense of humour". I think he understands his curmudgeonlyness, as reflected by comments like, "The reader, by now, may have deduced that I don't care much for (the Kennel Club) monopolies." To have a thin skin and read this book is a mistake. However, if you are willing to endure barbs at any and everything sacred, including perhaps your form of training, you may find this book enjoyable. I liked the book and thought it worthwhile.

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