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Bill Fawcett Reviews
Retriever Training for Spaniels
by Pamela Owen Kadlec

R etriever Training for Spaniels is billed by the author, Pam Kadlec, as a manual for "working with soft-tempered, hard-headed, intelligent dogs". Immediately, you'll perceive that this book is written from a Spaniel perspective. However, this book differs from most Spaniel books, in that it focuses on retriever training alone.

"This is a book for both novice owner and those who have trained spaniels before and now wish to improve their abilities to train their dogs for retrieving. It is an extremely practical guide to dog training. Pam has an ability not only to train but also explain clearly how to do so."

"Watching her at hunt tests working her Boykin spaniels I realize how much she is as one with them. She understands their temperaments and does not make excuses for their characters. She is never fooled by them and knows exactly how they think."

Martin Deeley, in "Forward".

Kadlec, a recognized authority on Boykin Spaniels, specializes in training spaniels in non-slip retriever work. Boykins are not recognized as a breed by the AKC, and as such do not participate in the flushing games such as AKC Spaniel field trails or hunt tests. Instead, they may find themselves competing in retriever trails or tests. Those interested in running their spaniels in UKC/HRC or NAHRA programs would do well to purchase this book.

The book can be broken down into two parts. In the first section, Kadlec looks at the basic obedience and retrieving skills. The usual topics are covered with a good common sense approach. Here we see some deviation from traditional spaniel training: a check cord is used, along with food treats. A full chapter is devoted to "clicker training".

Retriever Training for Spaniels

Just say "force breaking" and you will get cold stares from many Spaniel folk. Perhaps this is because Spaniels do not handle the pressure in the same way that many other dogs do. Kadlec devotes a chapter to "Conditioned Retrieve", which is a nice way of saying "table time". Her technique is a great adaptation for the Spaniel.

Obviously much is borrowed from the Labrador circles, which makes sense if you are going to compete your Spaniel against them, or hunt with your Spaniel in a similar manner. And therein lies the charm of the book: how to use these retriever training techniques on a "soft-tempered, hard-headed, intelligent dog", something which, aside from "hard-headed", no Labrador has ever been accused of.

Kadlec in not unfamiliar with the e-collar, but she does not address the use of the e-collar in detail. This is a shame because more and more Spaniel trainers are embracing some of the positive techniques developed for the e-collar, and it certainly has great application in retriever work, in and out of the water.

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