Upland Hunting with a Flushing Dog
Part II Quartering
By Jim and Phyllis Dobbs
The most efficient hunting pattern for a flushing dog is a sideways
figure eight. In this pattern the dog goes from side-to-side and turns
toward the front as he comes back across the field in front of you. If
the dog doesn't turn to the front he will be hunting back over ground
that he has already covered which is considered inefficient.
The flushing dog should range within 20 yards ahead of and to either
side of you. This distance gives the bird time to flush high enough for
a safe shot and still be in range.
We first train the dog to go away from us on command by sending the
dog to a place board (Retriever Journal Feb/March 1996). We will
then use this knowledge to teach the dog a quartering pattern.
Figure eight pattern
Begin training the dog to go from side to side by sending him to three
place boards. (See Diagram) Then we will teach the dog that he must go
around a white bucket (always turning toward the front) to get to the
board. You will move forward on a centerline with the place boards and
buckets to either side of you.
Begin by sending him from the start to place board #1.Stop him on the
board with a sit whistle. Move forward, stop and call the dog causing
him to come to you by going around the front side of the bucket.
When he is almost to you send him to place board #2. Repeat the procedure
to place board #3 and then to the "finish" place board. As you practice
this set up, gradually extend the distance from you to the buckets until
you are 20 yards away from them.
After the dog has become proficient at running around the buckets, remove
the place boards that are behind the buckets. Then repeat the drill by
sending the dog around the buckets as you walk down the centerline. Use
your turn whistle (we use two short toots) to turn him toward you and
using arm signal and body language have him continue on to the next bucket.
Next extend the pattern by using six buckets so that there are three buckets
down each side.
When sending the dog to go around the bucket, use your arm and body
language to indicate which direction to go. If, at any time, the dog tries
to cut short your cast and doesn't go around the bucket, stop him, move
closer and make him go around.
"Punching" Straight Ahead
Teach the dog that he must not run straight down field. Start by allowing
him to see you toss a dummy onto the "finish" board. This will entice
him to skip the buckets and run straight ahead to get the dummy. When
he "punches" straight ahead, stop him by commanding "No, Here!" and reinforce
your command with the e-collar. Have him begin running the pattern again
from where he began to go straight ahead.
Once he has accomplished this step, remove the "finish" place board.
Have the dog run the pattern around the six buckets. Then continue to
have him quarter down the field beyond the buckets.
The "Draw" Whistle
When the dog makes his turn at the end of each cast he will sometimes
go too far straight ahead rather than running flat as he crosses in front
of you to the other side. To counter this tendency of going too far to
the front, sometimes toss a wing clipped bird out in front of you without
him seeing it.
Right after the dog completes a turn, give him a draw whistle (a long
drawn out low pitched whistle). When the dog comes in to the whistle he
will find a bird right in front of you. Now, he will start to believe
that you just might know where birds are and will be much more apt to
obey your draw whistle in the future. This technique works great to counter
the dog's desire to hunt too far ahead when quartering.
The next article in this series will be "Part III -Trailing"