Beginning in early spring until well into the fall, you will find the spaniel section members outside with their dogs. These hunting dogs are trained using live birds in order to simulate situations as close to hunting as possible. Our 160 acre parcel of land, along with our game farm license, allow us to do so uninhibited. Some of our members train for hunting, while others train for the more disciplined and exciting sport of field trials.
The end result is the same: find the bird, flush the bird, and retrieve the bird. Some of our members are among the top handlers in Canada and are always willing to offer their knowledge and assistance to newcomers.
Our training sessions are normally on Saturday mornings and on Wednesday evenings from spring to fall, but check in with the section chair for club activities which may require alternative training locations for a given day.
Generally, our training sessions begin with the older and more mature dogs. We call them the open dogs. Two dogs will run parallel (brace), separated by a flag line. Birds are flushed, shot, and retrieved to hand. At this stage, handlers do not do any of the shooting, as they are concentrating on the dog and his performance. We take turns shooting, handling our dogs and planting live birds. New members are encouraged to observe how each dog behaves when detecting the presence of a live bird. This gives them an understanding of what their dog is doing while hunting.
Next, we take out the puppies. Younger puppies are introduced to feathered birds, while the more mature pups are taught to hunt and flush live birds within gun range. With the guidance of our more experienced handlers, new members are taught what to expect from their spaniel and the importance of proper introduction to the gun. After the puppies are finished, some of our members prefer to handle their dogs and shoot their own birds. This is encouraged and the field is cleared, giving them all the room they need in order to shoot safely without being crowded.
After each training session, there is usually a tailgate gathering where encouragement and helpful hints are discussed.
Safety is of primary importance, and we are ever vigilant of proper gun safety. Only safe shots are made, ensuring the well-being of spectators and dogs. Any person who is on the training field while a training session is in process must wear hunter orange.