An English Springer Spaniel bred for the field is often used as an upland flushing dog. In performing this task there are some skills the dog must be trained to perform.
Key Field Skills
- Retrieve to Hand: The majority of hunters and all hunt test or field trial judges require that a dog deliver a bird to hand, meaning that a dog will hold the bird until told to give it to the hunter directly.
- Soft Mouth: Springers must deliver game with a soft mouth and not puncture it with his teeth.
- Quarter: Dogs must work in a zig-zag pattern in front of the hunter seeking upland game birds. The dog must be taught to stay within gun range to avoid flushing a bird outside of shooting distance. This pattern is one of the primary criteria used to judge a dog in a field trial.
- Scenting: Having the ability to scent game is of vital importance to the hunter. A springer should have a good nose in both wet and dry conditions.
- Flushing: The Springer should have a positive flush. It should not hesitate or point when encountering game.
- Hup: This is the traditional command to sit and stay.
- Follow Hand Signals: The dog must be responsive to hand signals in order for the hunter to be able to direct the dog into areas of particular interest.
- Steady: A flushing dog should be steady to wing and shot, meaning that he sits when a bird rises or a gun is fired. He does this in order to mark the fall and to avoid flushing other birds when pursuing a missed bird.