After I posted yesterday’s blog about getting a dog to drink in the field, Gun Nut Phil Bourjaily (who knows a thing or two about bird hunting and dogs) sent me this e-mail…

Your last post about how to teach dogs to drink from a bottle or bladder got me to thinking about my shorthair, who learned immediately by watching my setter drink from a bottle then had to do it himself to get attention. He’s the same way with retrieving. This summer I plan to make him watch other dogs retrieve and be praised for it. That should be all it takes. Jealousy between dogs can be a powerful training tool.


That’s a great point. Jealousy is a wonderfully effective no-pressure way to teach a dog simple concepts, or at the very least, get that concept planted in their head. Whenever I train, if possible I always stake out whatever dog I’m not working so they can watch the one I am, especially with things like basic obedience and yard drills. My young chessie picked up very quickly on his handling and lining drills and I’m convinced that was due in part to him watching me work my older dog. Jealousy and desire through observation even works across the breed and hunting style spectrum.

That very wet dog in the picture is my young setter, Jenny. She is a lackadaisical natural retriever at best, and when it comes to swimming, forget about it. She’s no water dog. Or at least she wasn’t, until she spent an afternoon watching me throw marks for my chessie. Now she’ll jump right in, and while she’ll never win style points for form, she will swim to retrieve, all by merely watching and getting jealous of all that attention my other dog was receiving. She’s not automatic yet, but in the coming months I’ll continue working on her retrieving just by staking her out and letting her watch. Who knows, maybe she’ll be running double blinds by next fall…

Anyone else have a good jealousy-based training tip?