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him up to you before lining him up for the retrieve and sending him with a clear hand signal. Again, this increases the steadiness but it also develops his memory for what has fallen. Once he will do this reliably, call him to you, and do not send him but turn away in the opposite direction and ask him to seek on. Encourage him to hunt away from the throw and help him quickly find a dummy you have hidden in that direction, previously. Once he has found this hidden dummy and delivered it, now turn around and send him for the one you initially threw. This will build trust and confidence in you. It also prepares your dog for occasions where a bird has been shot dead and you know there are other birds near which you want to have a shot at before picking afterwards.

There is a balance to achieve here. We want a dog that will hunt, but yet, be under control and attentive to something flying or running. With dogs that become very 'sticky' - not wanting to hunt, a time in the rabbit pen or more hidden dummies and cold game usually loosens them up. What is nice to see, is a dog that, while hunting, immediately stops and sits when he sees something flying or rolling across the ground. The movement becomes a command to sit. One little accessory that some trainers use is a bolting rabbit. This is usually a dummy covered with rabbit skin attached to a long length of catapult rubber. Stretched out across the path of a hunting dog it is released when he gets close so that it bounces in front and across him, creating quite a strong temptation.

Now these lessons can be taken into the rabbit pen or the countryside where there is game. The rabbit pen is excellent because often you can see or anticipate where a rabbit is hiding and be prepared for the flush. In the countryside, you have to have the ability to read your dog and know when there is something there, hiding and ready to flush.

"There is a balance to achieve here. We want a dog that will hunt, but yet, be under control and attentive to something flying or running."

Whether in the rabbit pen or in the countryside, repeat many of the moves you did when using dummies and tennis balls. Use both to give occasional retrieves and finds if, at any time, your dog appears to be losing interest. If you are lucky enough to have ground on which you are able to hunt and shoot rabbits, get someone else to shoot for you and do not send your dog for every rabbit shot. We will talk about this in another article. If you shoot, you will not be concentrating totally on your dog - and if you send him for everything shot, he could easily begin to become unsteady at this stage

Wherever you are able to hunt your dog, keep him very close. Remember that you have only been stopping him on the whistle close up to you and further distances will not have the same control, at this stage. In the rabbit pen, initially walk him at heel to a scrubby area where a rabbit could be laying and then be in a position to intercept his chase with your presence and a sit whistle.

There are two very good videos that show this, one is with Ian Openshaw "Basic Spaniel Training" and the other is with myself "Basic Gundog Training" from Paul French Videos.

It is a big step going from training grounds to the real thing, the temptation of a rabbit or bird being far greater than a

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