The Hunting Spinone
The Spinone is included in the sub category of breed, which Hunt, Point and Retrieve (HPR)
What does this mean?
Firstly the Spinone being a pointing breed relies on the scent of its quarry being carried on the wind. The hunting and pointing ability of the dog is instinctive and does not necessarily have to be trained however hunt training will make the dog technically efficient with regard to it’s coverage of the ground. When hunting the dog will naturally learn to move across the wind at approx. 90 degrees searching for scent to aid this process young dogs learning the trade should initially be worked into the wind. The dog will learn by experience that this method will maximise its chances of locating quarry.
The dog will generally work across the wind being aware of the ground it has already covered and turning into the wind taking fresh ground. The handler ensures that new ground is taken by their own walking forward or remaining stationary so a great deal of advanced thinking and understanding of wind direction and scenting conditions by the handler will help the dog making a partnership between dog and handler.
Initially young dogs may flush quarry immediately not having gained the experience of standing off and holding it by pointing. The dog quickly learns how closely it can approach its quarry without startling it and the game sits tight thinking it may evade discovery, this is when the dog is said to be on point.
What is a point?
Dogs may point in different ways. You must learn to read your dog and understand what your dog's 'point' looks like. The common factor in pointing is that the dogs head will be frozen at that point which it feels it can go no closer to the quarry. The dog may move its eyes to look at you but its head will not move. A dog, which has not frozen in this way, may be moving up to quarry but needs encouraging on to the conclusion of the point.
Sanjika Sorrento on Point aged 11 months
When training your Spinone, in my opinion, you are aiming to train a dog to range according to your requirements,
In wide-open areas such as grassland or low cover you require your dog to hunt an area of maybe 100 metres or more either side of you. In a close cover such as woodland you may want your dog to work much closer as there will be potentially more scent and cover to investigate and it will be more likely that you will see your dog when it comes on point.
Your training should promote the dog holding the point until you give the pre-trained signal to flush and at this stage the dog should sit and 'mark' (that is check for the fall of the bird should it be shot). While you may as a practical hunter allow your dog to retrieve immediately without a command I personally would not find this desirable (In a U.K. Field Trial your dog would be eliminated for doing so.)
The dog when trained should be handled using whistle and hand signals. Use of the human voice and over use of the whistle is to be discouraged as nothing will disturb game and cause birds to run more than this. Put simply, the quiet handlers' dog will simply find more game.
The method and standard of retrieving for this breed is no different to say the Labrador retriever but the instinct to do so is not as strong and for this reason I would certainly start to encourage this behaviour at an early age.
Sanjika Sorrento at 6 months, holding a Woodpigeon.
Note elastic bands hold the wings closed ensuring a well-balanced retrieve.
Barking while encouraged in a deerstalkers dog when locating shot quarry is not acceptable in a bird dog and any such behaviour should be treated negatively.
To see a Spinone in an Italian trial, point,flush and retrieve follow this link.