We have covered several different aspects of the dog’s first introduction to water and the water seeking drill (Shore Breaking). One of the more difficult concepts for a dog to grasp is WHEN to get into the water on an angle. I can quickly tell what the dog understands about this subject in one minute.

In order to determine your dog's understanding,stand 20 feet from a body of water and send the dog into the water at a 45 degree angle. The untrained dog will run down the shoreline. The partially trained dog will square the land and jump directly into the water. The fully trained dog will take the exact line you give him and take that 45 degree angle into the water. Above the Junior Hunt Tests, judges are virtually all demanding an angled entry into water.

The farther away from the water you are, the more difficult it is to teach this concept so let’s start easy. Find a spit of land that extends out into the water and the farther to left the bumper is placed you go, the longer the swim the dog must travel to get to the bumper. The picture "The Training Bumper Setup" shows the setup.

The Training Bumper Setup

We do not use the e-collar on this drill. Do the best you can to get the dog lined up to the bumper you want then if he gets off line, handle him back on line. A simple “AH AH” will suffice if he does not understand the cast. The cardinal rule here is that he must not go to land too soon. It is much more desirable for the dog to start to swim past a bumper he can see on the shore than to seek the shore too soon.

Remember you want to start the drill as close to the water as you can even if your feet get wet.

We have been working on this concept for some time now. Running him to the left and right to pick up bumpers. Vary which bumper he picks up. It may be number 2 and then number 6. Now the collar is on and correction is in order If he seeks land too much.

Now we are ready to try marks. See the diagram below for the setup. We have retrieved the first mark of a double {1} now we send him for the second mark{2}. Now comes the hard part, send him to the blind {B}. Almost all inexperienced dogs will run down the road to the right of the blind.

The Training Marks

Correction is in order but the timing is critical. This may be argued several ways. I believe you must let the dog commit a felony. Getting into the water too soon is not a felony, you can’t punish him for that. Running a little bit down the road is not a felony. No, the felony is when he takes off running down the road to the right almost to the bumper. Now a good correction is in order. He must learn to make the effort to get in the water on the angle to the blind. Some people believe you should correct as soon as the dog passes the point where he should get in the water. That makes it too confusing to the dog. Let him make the mistake. Giving him corrections too soon will give him no place to go and you have a disaster in the making. Again as Rex Carr stated “Give the dog an out”. Let the sin be clear. The next step is to back away about 10 yards and repeat this drill only this time.

Now go back to our training setup shown in the "The Training Bumper setup" and remove bumpers 2,4,6 and 7. We are are making it more difficult by increasing the distance but we are simplifying it by decreasing the choices the dog has to make. The idea is that he will take the exact angle entry and go in a straight line to the bumper you chose. You may start with bumper 1 or bumper 8. He should be getting the idea of go where I send you. Keep backing up, when you are 50 yards away you have created a portion of the wagon wheel drill angling into water. Keep backing up from a single blind until the entry from the line to water is at least 150 yards. The dog must go and not stop or deviate from that line. As the dog gains experience, you may tighten up his line. Rex ran a drill called the chair or stick drill. He would put a stick into the shoreline and run the dog from 30 yards back from the water and demand the dog come very close to the stick when he angled into the water. Into the water too soon. “No no”. Do this drill first thing in the training session while the dog is fresh and can take the pressure.
Your goal is to have your dog successfully run the blind shown below in  "Testing Your Training." The dog must run 180 yards on land, enter the water at the correct angle, then swim 170 yards in the water past 2 points to the bumper

Testing your training

Happy Training
John Schulte