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One of the first pieces of advice I learned regarding dog training was a comment from an old springer trainer from Wisconsin. We were walking in the gallery behind a brace of springers at a field trial. I was asking questions about training a dog to stay within gun range. His comment was, "Watch the eyes."

Being a neophyte trainer, I did not understand him. As the trial continued, I watched him handle his dog with smoothness and little obvious handling. His dog was so totally in tune with him. It hit me that this dog was using his eyes to check in. There were slight commands given with the "eyes" from the handler that the dog instantly knew what to do and where to go.

"There were slight commands given with the "eyes" from the handler that the dog instantly knew what to do and where to go."

I have since learned to train dogs using "eye control". It is as if a long check cord were attatched to the pup and every command or correction given is obeyed with the eyes pulling on the lead. I can correlate this to "mind control" in training the young gun dog. The hardest tool to teach a new handler is how to control the dog's mind through your eyes and mind. A trust and willing attitude has to be developed with the dog. A positive mind control has to be exhibited by the handler in order to portray a sense of confidence and correctness into the dog.

Understanding animals and people psychologically and how they interact greatly increases the chances of success in gun dog training. Sometimes dogs turn out in spite of what we do - but it helps to know what they are thinking and to be able to see what they see "through the eyes".

Mark Haglin

Mark Haglin entered the dog world hunting on the farm in Northern Minnesota with whatever farm dog we had at the time. Not until he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1975 and received a springer spaniel as a graduation gift from his soon to be bride, Sophie, did he realize the amazing powers of a well trained gun dog. Mark trained that dog, acquired another and continued training gun dogs - all the while learning, listening, watching and applying training techniques and developing behavior training techniques that worked. Sophie and Mark have been married since 1977 and have grown along with their three sons and their Orvis Endorsed, English springer spaniel kennel, Pine Shadows, in Brainerd, Minnesota. Their philosophy is that every dog teaches them new things and if they can help someone else learn to mold their new pup into a productive family companion, then the Haglin's goal as been met. "Our goal back - then as it is now - is to be honest with the folks we meet," Mark comments, "and to educate people in the world of molding a dog." Contact us at

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