By Joe Law
12 May 2011
the Novice Retrieving Ability Tests and Novice Retrieving Trials, your
dog has learnt all the skills needed for single marked
These basic skills means that:
your dog is steady when game is flushed and shot
2. retrieves only when ordered to do so
and is reliable at working only the area of the fall and
returns directly with the game and delivers gently to hand and then
remains steady awaiting further direction.
When your dog
is ready, you will move to multiple mark retrieves. Now your
must develop memory for the fall of more than one bird and this will
require new skills to be added to those developed while
single marks. It is now that you will really experience the
for your dog to be rock steady while more than one bird is flushed,
shot and falls to ground. Your dog must learn to concentrate
the different falls and he won’t do this if he is not steady to flush
and shot. He must also learn to remember the fall of
length retrieves. This will not initially come easily to your
and it is important that the initial lessons are structured to succeed.
with a simple single mark on flat ground with light cover only and then
repeat this marked retrieve. Cast this same mark again but add another
mark to make it a double. This second mark should be angled
away from the first fall and your dog should be lined to face the
direction of the second mark before it is cast. When this
bird is down and your dog has remained steady, send him for this second
bird as it will be fresh on his mind and we want the dog to succeed
without losing all his memory for the first bird that was
As soon as one retrieve is completed, set your dog to face the fall of
the first bird and, if you have structured the exercise to succeed, he
should show you that he has some memory for that first bird and you
will be well on your way to success.
important that you
don’t rush his training at this stage but repeat this exercise in
different places with the birds well apart and slowly introduce birds
of different lengths to improve and extend his memory. By
your dog carefully to face the direction of the bird you are
retrieving, you will also be building your dog’s confidence in you that
there will always be a bird in the direction you send him.
will need this confidence when it comes to doing Blind Retrieves.
now though, we want the dog to remember the multiple falls for himself
and the lining is just extra assistance and insurance. By
varying the distances of the marks involved and slowly introducing
variations in terrain and cover, your dog’s skills will
When you are confident in your dog’s ability to mark and remember two
falls, you can reverse the order of the pick-up. When you
introduce this variation, keep the marks simple and be particularly
careful to keep the second bird cast clear and simple.
at this stage your dog is learning and you should resist any temptation
to test your dog in order to see what his capabilities might
When teaching single marks, we suggested it was not a good idea to let
your dog retrieve every bird that it sees fall and that your dog should
be made to remain steady while either you or another dog did the
retrieving. This same principle should continue while working
multiple retrieves. You are the leader and you control the
game. If your dog starts to anticipate your every move, it is
important to introduce some variation and insist that there is never
any doubt about who is running the show.
In order to teach
all the variations involved with multiple marks you will be faced with
a few choices:
Enlist the aid of a training partner and assist each other by throwing
dummies for each other.
Invest in throwing machines that can be set to throw dummies at various
angles and at various distances. These machines can be loaded and
operated by your training partner or by you if you have them fitted
with remote release units.
(c) Throw all
your own dummies. This will entail a considerable amount of walking on
your part and your dog will need to be well trained to be steady on
long sits while you walk and cast your own dummies. Many great
retrieving dogs have been trained using this method and not only does
the exercise do you good but your dog will think you are wonderful.
As your dog progresses with the land retrieves, water retrieves will
need to be added to the mix. A few rocks in your pocket can
useful to assist you dog’s memory if it has forgotten the
However, on longer water retrieves, the assistance of a training
partner is invaluable in assuring your dog’s progress and success.
Photo by Lara Sedgmen
This is an edited
version of an article that first appeared in Dogs
NSW magazine, August 2011.
page is provided by Working Gundog Club Inc.
(Affiliated with Dogs NSW)