DS540: Gun Dog Foundations 2 - Water Training

Instructor: Cassia Turcotte

Course Details

In this class, the handler and dog will be introduced to the concepts necessary to navigate retriever hunt tests (the water series!). It is the goal to give each team a systematic progression to teach water skills, from obedience and ‘delivery to hand’ through basic lining drills and handling skills necessary for upper level tests. Specific factors in the water series of retriever tests will be addressed and discussed in depth including cheating, de-cheating, squaring the shore, angled entries and exits, whistle stops, casting, dealing with current, hand delivery of wet game, and live game considerations. Progressions in each skill will be based on the level of the team, from puppy foundations to dogs preparing for Senior or Seasoned testing.


Next session starts: August 1, 2017
Registration starts: July 22, 2017
Registration ends: August 15, 2017

Registration will begin at 9:30AM PDT. 

Enrollment limits: 15 gold, 25 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze-level spot you can register any time during the registration period.


Syllabus GDF2 - W

Week 1

Concept: Foundation Work Begins On Land

Lectures: Foundations on the Land, The Come In Whistle, Teaching Return Line Adjustment Cues, Introducing Hazard Training, What Is Cheating?

Skills: The Come In Whistle, Line Adjustment Cues, Hazard Training

Week 2

Concept: Water Deliveries

Lectures: To Shake or Not to Shake, Generalizing Straight Entries, Go Swim, Non-cheatable Recalls, Finding An Appropriate Training Pond

Skills: Go Swim, Water Deliveries, Land Progressions

Week 3

Concept: Teaching Cheaty Lines

Lectures: Reviewing Whistle Stops in the Water,  What is A Cheaty Mark/Line?, Teaching the Obvious Cheat, Water Decoy Generalizations

Skills:  Land Progressions, Cheaty Marks and Lines, Water Deliveries

Week 4

Concept: Angled Entries and Exits

Lectures: Applying VDP Basics, Introducing Water Casting, Water Casting Discriminations, Water Hazards

Skills: Water VDP Drills, Water Casting, Progressions

Week 5

Concept: Setting A Back Pile

Lectures: The I-Drill Applied to Water, Setting A Back Pile, Common Water Pictures, Introducing Distance

Skills: I-Drill, VDP Progressions,

Week 6

General Review

Lectures: T-Drill Applied to Water, Suction, When to Push and When to Break It Down, Cold Blinds

Skills: T-Drill, Review

Prerequisites and Equipment


Gun Dog Foundations


  • A range of toys for tug/ball play and treats
  • Video camera/access to YouTube upload
  • Deadfowl Trainers (or bumpers)
  • Duck Call
  • Whistle
  • Placebox
  • 4 Small Food Bowls (or Frisbees/Target Lids)
  • Flagging (orange and white)
  • Starter Pistol
  • Human Assistant(s) OR Remote Bird Launcher(s) (Zinger Winger or Gunners Up)
  • Blank loads that fit your starter pistol or bird launcher
  • Tall Traffic Cones (or lining poles or equivalent)
  • Shoestring slip (literally a shoe string or equivalent)
  • Minimum weekly access to at least 3 different water locations, preferably one pond that you can walk all the way around no larger than 30 yards x 40 yards.

Course Testimonials


Brand new course starting August 2016.  

Please see the instructor bio page for sample testimonials from other courses they have taught.