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TRAINING

For training your Welshie (even if he isn't going to hunt), I recommend a great book by James Spencer.

This BOOK REVIEW, was done for Spaniels In The Field, (Issue Spring 1994 )
Copyright: Tom Radde

''HUP'' By James Spencer, ( Now Published By Alpine Publications )

When Art Rodger called and asked if I would do a review of ''Hup'', he asked me if I had read the book. I told him I had not read it because many Field Trialer's I spoke with had said it wasn't worth while. I promised I would give a honest, unbiased opinion of it once he sent me a copy.

Well, after just the first page of the Preface I knew I could not write an unbiased opinion of this book for the simple reason that any man who talks of Brigadoon, and Camelot while writing a treatise on dog training, just has to be a gentlemen. Spencer writes this book in a Renaissance concept, 'a little about all, a lot about one, (subject/s)'. After finishing the book I regret not reading it sooner.

Spencer may be relativity new to E.S.Spaniels, but he is not new to Hunting, Trialing, and Training dogs. In his 45 plus years with dogs he has been competitive with several breeds of Pointers and Retrievers. He has also written 3 well respected books on the Retriever Game. This is some of the 'different' knowledge Spencer brings to the Spaniel game. Perhaps the criticism of this book comes from the extensive information on retrieving, more so than any other Spaniel book I have read. Some may feel it's just not necessary. Well, if that is so, than just take from it what you need. That does not discredit the rest of the information.

Spencer's advice as to when to consult a Professional Trainer is worthwhile, some Pro Trainers may not agree for economic reasons, but his position is ''...You train your dog, but when you run into a particularly baffling problem, you confer with your Pro, (and pay him for his services, naturally)...you should feel no shame if you occasionally hit a snag you can't work out...''

All in all, this is perhaps the best book for the 'first time', and/or the 'choosing a flushing breed' person. The detail in explaining the basics will go a long way in helping the newcomer to Spaniels, especially Springers, learn the rudimentary facets of Springer training. While the experienced Trialer may find some of the basic chapters boring, there is plenty to learn in the retrieving chapters, for the newcomer and experienced trainer.

Spencer starts with a section on describing eight breeds of flushing Spaniels and seeks out experts on each for opinions. He ends this 'all breed' information with suggestions on sorting it all out. Keeping with his methodical method of arrangement, he helps the reader gather and group priorities. Again keeping the newcomer in mind, Spencer, without judgment on the 'which is better' argument, points out the 'differences' between the Show bred, and the Field bred Spaniel. The section on all the titles one could see in front or behind a dogs name, and exactly what they stand for, will go a long way in unraveling some of the confusion a newcomer may have on just what is what. This not only includes AKC, but UKC and NAHRA as well. Excellent chapters on what Field Trials, and Hunt Tests are all about. To the point of what to look at, what to, and not to do, where to stand and walk, and what is expected if you decide to compete. These chapters basically answer most of the questions a newcomer would have while attending his/her first Field Trial or Hunt Test.

The training portion contains eleven chapters in the standard order, and of the standard topics, Puppy, Obedience, Quartering, Steading, Brace, and Gentle Force Breaking. This standard of dog books is broken with no less than four chapters on the various levels of retrieving. Ending with blind multiple retrieves. Some of this work is quite sophisticated for Springers. Most of which I, or the training group I train with, don't regularly try with our Springers, but is certainly worth some looking into. A good reference to keep around, (by the way Art, I have lost the book you sent me and won't be able to get it back to you). Spencer also arranges his training chapters in a logical methodology. For example, What is it?, Why do it?, Prerequisites, Equipment, Facilities, Schedules, and Techniques. He details each facet of training, almost with a newspapers approach of, who, what, when, where, how. Yet he doesn't get stuck on one approach.

In an important chapter before the training chapters. Spencer lays out the relationship between the Dog and Man. He points out Dog training is not a continuous, predictable series of events. One does not do "step one" before "step two", and so on. Rather several items of training can, and in many times should be, taking place simultaneously. There is no time limit on training a Dog. Each chapter has an approximation of how long that phase may take, however, ''...No one will take your Dog away from you if you lag behind, and no one will give you a prize if you lap the field...''

''Hup'' is a worth while addition to any dog library. It is certainly a top choice for the start of a flushing dog library, if you sell pups you should give this book (with a copy of ''How To Raise A Puppy You Can Live With'' by Rutherford & Neil) to every first time Spaniel buyer. This book will give the new Spaniel owner an excellent start on a rewarding relationship with one of the most versatile, and affectionate hunting dogs around.

After finishing the book I regret not reading it sooner.