Some people would argue that the best trained springers are those which win prizes for obiedience. There is another view though – that trialling champions are the best trained. Well, to me it’s just like arguing about what the best flavour of ice cream is – it’s a matter of opinion – or taste, I guess.
A Special Breed
Undoubtedly a trialling champion springer must be special, and this video documentary (Lone Hunter TV) shows just what is needed to train a trialling champion. I’m not a trialling person myself, but the sheer enthusiasm and joy this dog gets from the training is a real pleasure to watch!
It also presents an interesting view of a top-notch kennel, and brings home the point that these dogs are bred for the field and not as family pets.
Here’s a video of a well trained English springer spaniel demonstrating obedience during a dog shop. You’ll note that the tail is docked, and the ‘stocky’ build is indicative of the show (bench) line of the breed (the field line is less stocky, and in my opinion, more agile).
Note the constant use of eye contact to maintain communication.
Springer spaniels are sociable, even with other dogs, and quite level-tempered. They are intelligent and eager to please (‘biddable’) so they are easier to train than some other breeds. The Springer was bred originally as a working dog. An outdoors dog has the genes for running, swimming, and staying active. So, they need exercise, but this makes training them a lot of fun – they keep the owners active too!
They want to get it right although they can be stubborn if trained the wrong way. If you take on a springer spaniel rescue dog, then bear in mind that some re-training may be necessary.
If you have a puppy, though, then it is much easier. Kennel Clubs usually run puppy training classes, and after the basic training – ‘boot camp’ – there are various levels, typically bronze, silver and gold. You and your springer must pass a test so that you can start training at the next level up. The course is straightforward though; different springers have different difficulties with exercises, but the trainers will help you and you dog surmount these hurdles (often literally). And so you and your springer progress from level to level.
Training field dogs is a completely different process – they need to get used to the sound of guns and learn to work in a team with another dog. They are also at a much greater distance fromt their owners, on average, and signalling techniques differ – they may be out of sight in undergrowth, or swimming to retrieve.
Paddy – a great video example of a springer spaniel sniffer dog working. He can sniff one billionth of a gram of explosive, and is used to protect the Royal Family and for public events security in Wales.
Paddy , an Explosive detecting Springer Spaniel working at Public Events in Wales.
Shot for the series “Extraordinary Dogs”
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Video. Bess an English Springer Spaniel retreives a 1LB canvas dummy from across the River Derwent. I’m a little cautious when asking her to do this as I have no way other than swimming to get across to the other side should she decide to mess about. Paul Coates.