Early Training

Training to come to call, to retrieve a small dummy, and to quest light cover can begin at a very early age — almost from the nest stage, in fact. The puppy should be taught its name and to come in to a particular whistle (I use two quick toots on a high pitched stag horn whistle for this), and this is best accomplished by repeating the name, followed by the whistle signal, and the giving of an edible reward. This creates an association between name and whistle and something pleasant, and to puppies, like children, nothing is more pleasant than something to eat! Let the puppy run about on the lawn and suddenly call his name and give your whistle signal, and immediately he comes in make much of him. In cases of stubbornness run up to and past the puppy, repeating name and whistle, and in a very short time you will have a puppy obedient to call. Retrieving a small dummy (which can be a ball, an old glove rolled up or a small, stuffed rabbit skin) can be commenced as soon as the above lesson has been learned. Most worth-while cockers have a natural retrieving instinct and if you throw your dummy a short way on bare ground even the youngest puppy will usually run after it and pick it up. Immediately this happens call and whistle him in
and praise him, but do not snatch the retrieve away at once. Take it very gently and use only slight pressure on the lips if there is a tendency for the pupil to hang on. If a puppy seems to prefer running off with the dummy to his kennel or basket, place yourself in a position where you can intercept him on the inward journey, and adopt the same procedure. Encourage the puppy to come right up to you and stand with the dummy in his mouth in front of you. If you try to remove it too quickly he may get into the habit of circling round you, which must at all costs be avoided. A good, clean delivery is essential in a well-trained gundog.