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"Dog Obeys Or Is With You: Understanding the Dynamics of Dog Training"

Springer Spaniel Field Trial

A theme has developed over the past month or so with people training with us. We have been harping on it with the group as it seems to be a bit confusing, I offer it for everyone.

Many times, we are providing commands to our dogs unintentionally through body language, mannerisms or nervousness. This typically happens in the yard, around the training rig and around distractions. An example is when you tap your leg and say HERE, which is actually saying it twice because you used two forms of the same command. (This is not to be confused with using two forms when you are linking a new command to a known command for the same task.)

The issue gets magnified in the field as you are trying to read your dog as it is questing. If you are using body language to turn your dog, or suck it back in, AND you blow the whistle, is your dog with you or did it merely comply to the whistle command? This may not be an issue at a trial/hunt test/or hunting but it is a very big deal in training. You should be training for excellence to try and limit the imperfections when competing or hunting. In those areas, the whistle should be interpreted as a correction to limit the chance that you lose control of the dog.

Louise and her springer spaniel Bonnie in the field

No hunter likes hearing a whistle all day and you cannot consistently win if you are on the whistle the entire time even if the dog responds. Over time, the whistle will eventually lose its meaning. You cannot expect a high standard out of your dog if you do not expect a high standard from yourself. We all have bad days and at some events you are just trying to survive. If we only could understand that more often regarding our dogs. You can limit the bad days if each command, subtle or not, is fully developed to a high standard individually.

Frasier with his first grouse.


Todd with springer spaniels Riley and Alder


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