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cocker

Postby bear57 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:38 pm

I wondered how difficult training a cocker is compared to pointing breed. I wondered if needed the same bird contacts to become a proficient hunter. With bird population not what they were years ago just cant get dog into the numbers required to make them reach potential. So thought cocker might not require the same amount of birds as pointing breed. I've never owned or even hunted behind a cocker so any thoughts or experiences shared would be appreciated.
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Re: cocker

Postby Trekmoor » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:16 am

Sorry, didn't notice your post until now, thought it deserved a reply. I have cockers and have also trained some of the pointing breeds.

Much of a cockers training can be done in the absence of game although game certainly does help to get them really motoring. There is very little game around me but I used tennis balls layed out in a "pattern" to encourage the cockers to hunt (and to retrieve.) The pup is first encouraged to chase and retrieve tennis balls and then is left in the vehicle while I place anything from 10 balls down to 6 balls out among (to begin with) light cover. The balls are placed to form a "lane" up which the pup is encouraged to quarter from side to side , finding and retrieving the balls as we go while I walk up the centre of the lane.

The lane is kept short in length for beginner pups , maybe about 30 yards, this gives the pup more "finds" and those finds are the pups reward for hunting. Make it all very easy for a beginner pup then space the balls further apart from each other in distance and in the breadth of the "hunt."

You would still need to hunt the pup on real game as often as possible to get a good dog but the tennis balls will encourage the pup to hunt and "accidentally" find game .....and then watch it pick up the pace ! :lol:

You cannot train pointing dogs without real game but , to some extent, tennis balls make a fairly good substitute for beginner spaniels.

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Re: cocker

Postby Steve007 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:55 pm

That's a very interesting post, trekmoor! Not my breed or type of hunting, but still.. interesting. Did you invent this idea? And do you suppose you could teach a non-hunting dog breed to hunt that way..if he didn't eat the birds,anyway. Guess you'd have to accustom him to retrieving live birds, too.
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Postby welsh » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:27 pm

Two training challenges for spaniels that separate them from pointy dogs: hunting within range & steadiness to wing & shot.

Hunting within range, Bill already addressed in part. Many people start by hunting up tennis balls & dummies, then progress to wing-clip pigeons. A lot of work is done with wing-clip pigeons because the chief task is to *find birds* while hunting in range. You don't need wild birds for a dog to learn to use the wind. Indeed, using wild birds early on can cause you problems by encouraging the dog to range out.

Steadiness likewise can be learned on pigeons.

Sooner or later the dog needs to learn about pheasants but this can wait some time....

Remember, the spaniel's job unlike the pointer is to remain in range, find birds, and put those birds into the air as quickly as possible.

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Re: cocker

Postby Trekmoor » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:39 am

Steve007 wrote:That's a very interesting post, trekmoor! Not my breed or type of hunting, but still.. interesting. Did you invent this idea? And do you suppose you could teach a non-hunting dog breed to hunt that way..if he didn't eat the birds,anyway. Guess you'd have to accustom him to retrieving live birds, too.


Thanks Steve. I did not invent the use of tennis balls when training spaniel pups to quarter/hunt. The man who showed me their use used only two balls and the instant his pup had found and given him one ball then set off to hunt again ,he'd quickly flick out another ball to hunt the pup onto. This worked fine for him but it didn't work well for me. My spaniel pup caught me flicking out the other ball and then took too much interest in me and not enough interest in hunting .....these balls are not tossed as marked retrieves. The pup is supposed to find them as it hunts.

All I did was modify the idea to better suit myself and my dogs. I made "lanes" using numerous balls then hunted the pups up the lanes. I spaced the balls out to best suit the abilities of whatever pup I was training. This can give a pup a "pattern" and a quartering distance.
To keep a pup close quartering use short distances of ball spacings ......Even hard going pointing dogs will hunt closer after a while if there is plenty of birds to be found near to the handler.

I honestly don't know how using a tennis ball lane might work out in the U.S. , the reason for this being how we train retrieving here.
I make every dog I get into a retrieve fanatic and can often have a pup in that state by 5 months old.....this is long before I have trained any kind of steadiness or stop to voice or whistle. All the pup will know is how to run-in and return with a ball or other retrieve object to me .....no sits, no stays and definitely no heelwork.

When a pup at that stage finds a tennis ball it has not seen thrown it will pick it up and return with it. I don't think I have ever bought a tennis ball but I've got lots of them ! My dogs find the balls lost by other people and their dogs and bring them to me. A spaniel pup, taught using tennis balls, can be pretty good at quartering long before I have even taught it to sit ! :lol:

Lack of readily available game has always been a problem for me so I have had to use game substitutes when hunt training spaniels....just like most of us use bumpers as game substitutes for retrieving purposes. Tennis balls and bumpers are a means to an end but not an end in themselves. Real gundogs work on real game .....the rest are only playing at it .

P.S. Steve. A retriever could be trained in that way but I.M.O. , not a pointing dog . A pointing dog should only be pointing live game ....not tennis balls or bumpers or even dead birds. Imagine trekking a quarter of a mile across rough country to reach a dog's point and then discover your dog was pointing someone's old tennis ball ! :lol:

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Re: cocker

Postby JONOV » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:14 am

In England they would run cocker trials on rabbits as well as birds. Even if you don't have birds I bet you could get him on rabbits.
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Re: cocker

Postby Trekmoor » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:14 am

They certainly do run "rabbit only" trials for spaniels in Britain and in my opinion they are far more fun and more exciting to watch than any bird shooting spaniel trials. Unless differently trained I don't think an American work style spaniel would do well in those trials though. Our spaniels are hunted closer in than yours are and that helps to make rabbit shooting safer and a bit easier among cover.

Whenever possible our spaniel field trailers hunt/train their dogs on rabbits. There is nothing quite like rabbits for getting a young dog to put it's nose down and really burrow in to hard cover. Good rabbit shooting ground is greatly sought after here with trainers paying quite a lot of money for such ground and often travelling hundreds of miles to reach it.

Bird trials greatly outnumber rabbit shooting trials however as birds are much more readily available.

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cocker

Postby welsh » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:13 am

Trekmoor wrote:... I don't think an American work style spaniel would do well in those trials though. Our spaniels are hunted closer in than yours are and that helps to make rabbit shooting safer and a bit easier among cover.


Not only that, but our dogs are trained to drive in hard and anything at ground level belongs to them. Training on rabbits is more or less incompatible with wing-clop pigeons.


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Re: cocker

Postby Trekmoor » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:18 pm

welsh wrote:
Not only that, but our dogs are trained to drive in hard and anything at ground level belongs to them.


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Most of our spaniels think the same thing ! :lol: :lol:

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Re: cocker

Postby polmaise » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:15 pm

Trekmoor wrote:
You cannot train pointing dogs without real game

Bill T.

anything else is just yard work no matter the breed.
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Re: cocker

Postby gundogguy » Fri Oct 06, 2017 3:55 am

Trekmoor wrote:They certainly do run "rabbit only" trials for spaniels in Britain and in my opinion they are far more fun and more exciting to watch than any bird shooting spaniel trials. Unless differently trained I don't think an American work style spaniel would do well in those trials though. Our spaniels are hunted closer in than yours are and that helps to make rabbit shooting safer and a bit easier among cover.

Whenever possible our spaniel field trailers hunt/train their dogs on rabbits. There is nothing quite like rabbits for getting a young dog to put it's nose down and really burrow in to hard cover. Good rabbit shooting ground is greatly sought after here with trainers paying quite a lot of money for such ground and often travelling hundreds of miles to reach it.

Bird trials greatly outnumber rabbit shooting trials however as birds are much more readily available.

Bill T.


Rabbit trials would be out of the question here in the USA. And Bill T is correct prey drive levels increase substantially when spaniels and the infrequent rabbit cross paths.
As for training difference between Pointy dogs and Cockers or Springers for that matter the difference is one of thought process. Wild birds train the pointy dog, Man has to train the Spaniel. As Welsh mentioned a reliable spaniel must learn to hunt within gun range.
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Re: cocker

Postby Steve007 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:26 am

gundogguy wrote: Wild birds train the pointy dog, Man has to train the Spaniel.


Welll.. not quite. My FC is a topflight wild bird dog (so unlike some, I'm not biased). But the idea that it requires wild birds to train a pointing dog is narrow-minded and false. It's always nice, but I've hunted with several friends' well-trained trial or preserve dogs the first time they encounter wild birds. They may crowd initially, but a good dog adjusts quickly.
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Re: cocker

Postby ezzy333 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:17 am

My experience also.
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Re: cocker

Postby polmaise » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:01 pm

Trials on Grouse moors or partridge have Rabbit or Hare as part of the quarry , it may not be the primary intended quarry, but if one is competing in such ground then 'train for it' .
The 'Cocker' is not as some would assume a 'Miniature Springer' . ? It as a breed has different hunting and tendencies acute to it's brethren ,those that hunt/train a Cocker Spaniel like they would a Springer Spaniel are 'fooled' by the dog and it's rightly so attitude to the trainer .
Personally I just 'Con them in to thinking they are doing the right thing ,when really they think they are doing the right thing'.
I once done a seminar with a cocker on stage at my side . I started the talk by saying '' A cocker is one of those individuals that when it does wrong in training , it say's ''I didn't mean to do that wrong, but I'm going to do it again anyway'' .
A calm handler/Trainer is a good match :wink:
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Re: cocker

Postby bear57 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:03 pm

Thanks for the insights! One other question , are there preferred lines I should look for n vise visa stay away from ?
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Re: cocker

Postby CDN_Cocker » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:36 am

I'm going to take a different approach. I own a cocker and love hunting over him. We do it all from grouse and woodcock to ducks, geese and preserve pheasants. He suits me well as he is a Jack of all trades. But your concern comes from going from a pointer to a cocker, chiefly due to dwindling bird numbers. It is for that exact reason that I will say a pointing breed is much better. A cocker or other flusher will do the job but a pointing dog will do it better without expending as much energy. A cocker will hunt all out and if you don't have many birds in the area you hunt, the dog is just going to be wasting energy without reward. In areas with low bird numbers a pointer is going to outperform a flusher. I'm sure there will be people that disagree with my statement and I understand as I hunt over a cocker. I completely understand their capability. But I'm also not so thick that I do not appreciate their limitations either.
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Re: cocker

Postby Trekmoor » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:01 am

I completely agree with the above post ....."In areas with low bird numbers a pointer is going to outperform a flusher. "

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Re: cocker

Postby bear57 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:58 am

CDN and Trekmoor you guys are killing me:) I thought cocker would satisfy my criteria regarding size and the training because of lower bird numbers encountering these days. There aren't many pointing breeds that fall into size of cockers. Thanks for all the insights.
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Re: cocker

Postby Trekmoor » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:49 pm

Sorry if I have put you off the idea of getting a cocker but I have had cockers and brittanies and GSP's all at the same time so I know which of the breeds finds the most game in areas where game is sparse. I love the cocker breed, they are one of the best working breeds in the world but they aren't designed to cover lots of ground. They do best when the cover gets thicker and the game a bit more plentiful. The more "open" the ground is and the less plentiful the gamebirds the more the pointing breeds come into their own.

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Re: cocker

Postby ezzy333 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:52 pm

Trekmoor wrote:Sorry if I have put you off the idea of getting a cocker but I have had cockers and brittanies and GSP's all at the same time so I know which of the breeds finds the most game in areas where game is sparse. I love the cocker breed, they are one of the best working breeds in the world but they aren't designed to cover lots of ground. They do best when the cover gets thicker and the game a bit more plentiful. The more "open" the ground is and the less plentiful the gamebirds the more the pointing breeds come into their own.

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Amen
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Re: cocker

Postby Sharon » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:46 pm

Trekmoor wrote:Sorry if I have put you off the idea of getting a cocker but I have had cockers and brittanies and GSP's all at the same time so I know which of the breeds finds the most game in areas where game is sparse. I love the cocker breed, they are one of the best working breeds in the world but they aren't designed to cover lots of ground. They do best when the cover gets thicker and the game a bit more plentiful. The more "open" the ground is and the less plentiful the gamebirds the more the pointing breeds come into their own.

Bill T.



Consider a setter runt. Mine is 33 pounds and a star in the field. Runt does not mean less hunting skill nor slower.
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Re: cocker

Postby Steve007 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:13 pm

Sharon wrote:Consider a setter runt. Mine is 33 pounds and a star in the field. Runt does not mean less hunting skill nor slower.


Hard to pick a specific pup that will grow up to be small as an adult (unless both parents are small). Brits as a breed, however, are generally smaller.
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Re: cocker

Postby polmaise » Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:26 am

bear57 wrote: I thought cocker would satisfy my criteria regarding size and the training because of lower bird numbers encountering these days. There aren't many pointing breeds that fall into size of cockers. Thanks for all the insights.

If size is the criteria , then as mentioned earlier a Brittany , or depending on your Location a 'One size fits all' would be a ''Boykin'' . perhaps.
But, and there is always a 'But' . They ain't a pointer :wink:
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Re: cocker

Postby Sharon » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:56 pm

Steve007 wrote:
Sharon wrote:Consider a setter runt. Mine is 33 pounds and a star in the field. Runt does not mean less hunting skill nor slower.


Hard to pick a specific pup that will grow up to be small as an adult (unless both parents are small). Brits as a breed, however, are generally smaller.


Even with my limited breeding experience( beagles and 1 setter) I have not found that to be so. Runts are obvious the moment they are born, and rarely if at all make up their size.
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