Teaching a dog to Quarter in the Field – Quartering a Field
Regardless of where you live,Teaching a dog to Quarter in the Field is the same. Most all field-bred sporting dogs love working and quartering a field. What is quartering? This term simply means having your dog work in front of you to find birds. For example, a lab will go quartering to find a cripple that has been knocked down into thick brush. This skill is very simple to teach. In fact, the most difficult aspect is determining which command you will use: “find ‘em” or “hunt ‘em up.”
Like any skill, quartering should be taught over a series of days, in small increments. On day one, you should start by throwing a bumper in front of your dog. It does not matter if your retriever sees the bumper fall. Give your dog the command to find the bumper, and then give him or her praise for a job well done.
Next, throw a bumper in the opposite direction from the first bumper that you threw, such that your dog is working side-to-side in front of your location. Continue throwing side-to-side while saying the command you have chosen. This drill should be a lot of fun for your dog. As your dog progresses and begins to understand the point of this exercise, throw a couple a bumpers at a time. For the first 1 – 2 days, simply spend 15 minutes just throwing bumpers and having your dog retrieve them in a back and forth manner.
The next step of the quartering process is to establish bumpers by dropping them and remembering where they are. The overall goal is to be able to walk through an “aisle” with bumpers on either side and for your dog to work side-to-side to find them. After you have established the bumpers, leave the area and return a few minutes later. Stand facing the area where the bumpers have been dropped and give your dog the “find ‘em” command.
Overall, it is important that this drill involves no collar pressure; it should simply be a fun game to your pet.
Now that your dog understands what you are doing, pepper an area with bumpers or birds to get your dog really excited. If you do not have birds, attach duck feathers to your bumpers. Use the space that you have available to complete this drill – it can be effectively done in a yard that is 25 yards long, or 500 yards long. Start in low cover and send your dog into the highly peppered area by giving the proper command.
The most important aspect of this drill is that your dog learns to use his or her nose. If you knock a duck into heavy cover but do not know where it is, your dog should understand the concept of “find ‘em” or “hunt ‘em up.”
Finally, the last step in teaching a dog to quarter in the field is to throw a bumper into thick cover and walk away. Stay away from the area for 10 – 15 minutes. Then, when you turn back, give your dog the command to find the bumper. Your dog should learn that whichever direction you are facing, he or she will find a bird.