It’s time for another Man’s Best Friend reader training tip knife giveway and this week’s winner is all about using feeding time to help keep your retriever sharp and polished on those “overs” and “backs.”

Teaching your retriever to handle is one of the most important parts of retriever training. It’s what separates the guys who can guide their dog into a non or poorly-marked bird from the guys who must resort to chunking rocks or shotgun shells to get their dogs into the right area. No matter how well your dog marks or takes a line on a blind, there are going to be times when you’ll need to handle them into a bird. Teaching retrievers to handle is a book-length subject on its own, but this quick and easy tip from reader redfishhunter uses chowtime as a mini training camp on hand signals.

To keep my lab sharp on his hand signals, come dinner time I always sit him on one side of the room and put his food bowl on the other. I will do the appropriate signal and command that sends him in the direction of the food. I change up the direction I send him regularly, and it seems to help keep him accurate in the blind or field. This is especially nice when you don’t have time to do the appropriate field drills. Or just to keep him on his A game.

That’s an interesting tip. I’ll use the food bowl to work on steadiness, but I have to admit I’ve never thought using it in terms of teaching or reinforcing handling drills. I could also see where this could be a good way to introduce a young pup to the concept. As my old dog gets older, I have, in the past couple years, let her get a little (OK, maybe a lot) sloppy in her basic handling (including sit whistles) but when fall rolls around I generally try to sharpen her up a bit with a few of the normal handling drills. But maybe I should try this, instead, because itf there’s one thing my fat old girl responds to quickly, it’s food…

Anyone else try this trick with their dog? Congratulations, redfishhunter. I’ll be sending you an e-mail soon. And remember, keep the tips coming to for a chance to win a Swedish FireKnife from Mora and Light My Fire.