No scent? Not a problem. Some dogs are reluctant to hunt ground that has no scent to get them fired up and not everyone has access to scenty ground. So, the following exercise can help overcome this problem. Sit the dog next to you and put your hand over the dog’s eyes. Rub the fur dummy in the grass immediately in front of you. This will lay some scent and the dog will also hear the noise. The important bit to this exercise is that you do not put the ball down. Instead, keep hold of it and hide it in a pocket or keep hold of it so the dog can’t see it. Click your dog off and start it hunting. The dog will believe that the ball is hidden somewhere in the grass (due to the scent and sound) and will work that area around your feet in an effort to find it. You will need good timing for the next part of the exercise. When the dog has its nose down and is not looking at you, drop the ball by your feet and call the dog back into the area. In the early stages drop the ball relatively quickly. As the dog progresses you can leave it hunting for longer periods. If all goes to plan, he will find the ball right next to you and thereby re-enforcing the dog’s belief that if he stays near the owner, he will get his reward. At this stage we are artificially creating a good close hunting habit. As the dog gets on scent, he will naturally start to open up but as we have conditioned him to stay close, he will still be well within an acceptable distance.
The thing to remember is that your overall aim has to be to enter the shooting season with a well-schooled gundog. Be in no doubt that as your dog re-gains his working fitness and grows in confidence, failings in your summer training will start to show through and things can quickly spiral out of control.