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Aw Ma, Do I Have To?
Teaching your spaniel to take and maintain
a straight line in the water
by Pamela O. Kadlec

For the average spaniel used for hunting the occasional duck or bird that happens to fall in the water, how the dog gets to and from the bird is not important. The fact that he retrieves in water is. So what if he runs along the bank, jumps in, retrieves the bird, swims to the closest shore and runs around to deliver the bird? He got the job done, didn't he? The hunt test dog owner who expects pup to get past the Started level needs to learn to take a straight line to and from the bird. If pup learns he can run the bank he is more apt to get into trouble, possibly stumbling on one of the other marks or a blind already planted.


Personally, I like my dogs to learn this even if they won't be campaigned. It teaches consistency. You go straight there and straight back. If I allow sloppy deliveries then it is only a matter of time before I allow sloppy fetches. If I allow sloppy fetches then maybe I won't mind if he drops his birds on delivery. Okay, maybe it's a Leo thing. It's definitely a lot cleaner looking work in front of the judges.

Before you start teaching pup angle entries, stop and teach pup to target your hand. Using treats is the easiest way. Place your hand down, palm facing pup and when pup touches your palm, click and treat or say, "Good here" and treat. While walking in the yard, let pup get out in front of you. Call him 'here' and when he targets your hand give him a treat. Alternate so you use both hands. Sometimes pup will need to come to your left side and other times to your right. It's also a good idea to teach pup to heel on both sides, especially if you plan on running hunt tests. If the line is a sharp angle entry to the left you want to line pup up your right side. That way he is less likely to run the bank if you are blocking the way.

"With all dog training, show and tell is the key."

When pup is steady, sit him and walk away. Command pup to come to you and treat when he touches (targets) your hand. Switch around and bring pup in to either side.

Pup also needs to learn to 'look at you'. Watch your pup. If he looks to the bank and you can get eye contact then you can get pup to target your hand. He can't target your hand if he's looking at the bank. This is definitely something to learn with treats and can be done in the house as well as in the yard. Use

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