Some people say I have a face for radio, and I might agree. I was in that business for 20 years for a reason! But Buddy knows that my face can also help him become a better hunter. (Thanks to NAVHDA judge Phil Swain for pointing this out!) See if it works for you:
Think about what dogs see, especially from any distance. Not much, in the way of details. A scowl, frown, smile, what can they make out from 20, 50, 100 yards? Well-bred bird dogs will key in on your body’s most visible, brightest component … your mug, even if it’s wanted poster-ugly. They’ll try to stay out in front of you, and they know it’s the front because they can see your face. Alright, so how do you use this to your advantage?
Look in the direction you want your dog to go. A cooperative dog will want to move to your front, keeping your face behind him. To change direction, just turn that way. When you need a strong retrieve (or at a NAVHDA duck search, where you can’t handle your dog) direct him with your face, not by walking around in the brush. It keeps your scent out of the area, but still puts him where the bird fell. Or at least where you think it fell.
And take off those dark glasses. Your eyes are not just the window to your soul, but the key to communicating with your dog. Try a few commands with glasses on, then after a bit, with them off. See if it makes a difference in your dog’s willingness to obey and (more importantly) understand.
Like Buddy, your dog may not have the best taste, but if it helps him hunt, your face may be the best thing he’s seen all day.