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Dog won't handle

I have a 4 year old Golden remale. She just can't seem to grasp the idea that the hand leads the way. When working on sight blinds, she is not bad. But as soon as the aid is taken away, she starts to have problems and wn't run in the direction of the pointing hand, especially in an open field.
Thanks, Phillip.


I don't know how long you have been working this dog on handling but it appears that she needs more time to get the idea. Continue to work on the sight blinds in low cover and then slowly move to heavier cover. Set up a large X pattern with a pile of bumpers at the end of each leg. Sit the dog in the middle and cast her left right and back from the center of the X. Rotate around so that she is going to a different pile with each cast. When she does this well set up the same exercise in heavier cover and repeat the work for a week or more. It is important that you set up the X (in heavy cover) in the same place every day.

When she is handling well in heavier cover, start running her on three legged pattern blinds. This is simply three binds that are in the same place each and every day. Set them up so that the middle leg is the longest (80-100 yds) and the two on each side are shorter (50-75 yds). Place a pile of bumpers at the end of each pile. When she is running cleanly to each pile, you can occasionally stop her on the way to the middle pile and cast her left or right to the other piles. This may take some time but she will start running to the left and right piles fairly quickly. Keep working this drill until you have her running and handling to each pile.

Be careful not to transition to totally new blinds in the field too soon as this will cause her confusion and can damage the training.

Training a dog to run blind retrieves with style and precision should take considerable time and effort. Be patient, go slowly and make sure she understands each lesson before you move on the next.

Look for my new eBook on lining and casting, due out next month on my website.

Good Luck!

Bill Corcoran
Highland Retrievers

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