The great error some trainers make in training to retrieve is to permit the dog to think he is playing. It is a playful instinct for the dog to rush for articles thrown and to bring them back; but this method never makes a dependable retriever and the dog does not understand that he must retrieve, that he is to work, and that it is serious business. The method of training we have outlined avoids this mistaken impression.
The dog must be taught to stop on command, but always to stop without turning around and looking at his master; then he must be taught to stay where he is (point for the bird dog; hupp, for the spaniel), and the third part of the act is to go upon the command “fetch.”
To train the bird dog to stop suddenly on command and to remain still and stiff in his tracks, not lying down, tie him to a long cord, pass the cord thru a ring on the stake in the ground, and hold the loose end of the cord. Stand about twenty feet from the stake.
The dog’s attention is attracted and as he comes toward the handler, the command “whoa,” or “stop” is given, and he is checked by the handler pulling the cord.
After several days of this, as the dog stands quietly after being checked, walk slowly toward him. If he starts toward you, check him at once.
After another few days, walk past him; check him by the collar, if he attempts to follow. Distance can be increased until after a time the handler can walk around the dog and at a distance, while the dog remains still and stiff in his position.
Later omit the ring and stake and take him out on the cord. Make these lessons short in time each day. Thirty minutes in the morning and thirty in the afternoon are sufficient for each day.
The common command “hupp” is to bring the spaniel to the ground, sitting on his haunches. The method already outlined for training the dog to “down” can be used here.
To get him up, use the command “up.” It is well to walk a few steps away from him and to raise your arm as you command.