Training Days for Flushing Dogs

During the spring, summer and fall of 2022, MSDA will be holding Training Days for flushing dogs. Sessions will be held on Fridays, approximately monthly. The typical day will go from 8:30 am to 3:30 or 4 pm, but times may vary. The per-day fee is $15 per dog for MSDA members and $20 per dog for non-members. Birds are extra. Time with a professional trainer may be available for an additional fee. Advance online registration and payment is required for each session.

The first Training Day of 2022 is planned for Friday, March 18 beginning at 8:30 am. It will be held at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. Online registration will open on Friday, March 4th and will close no later than 5 pm (ET) on Saturday, March 12th. The link to the registration form will appear here once registration opens.

Much more information about these Training Days, including future dates, is below. If you would like to be notified when dates are selected and when registration opens and closes for each training day, just fill out this form. For the March Training Day, those who subscribe below will receive early notice and access to registration.

    I'm potentially interested in the MSDA Training Days for Flushing Dogs. Please keep me informed.


    The objective of these Training Days is to prepare dogs to enter and successfully pass an AKC Spaniel Hunt Test, or for you to just enjoy time in the field with your dog. The plan is to offer fun, constructive upland/flushing training with live birds without a lot of down time, along with an opportunity to continue old friendships, make new friends, and get more involved with MSDA’s activities.

    Each Training Day will be set up as a “mock” Spaniel Hunt Test that will allow training at four levels (Newbie, Junior, Senior and Master). There will be one or more judges available in the field, but there will be no scoring. Exercises available will include land quartering/ flushing/ retrieving, hunt dead, water retrieves and a water blind. Live and/or thawed birds (pigeons, chukar, or pheasant) will be available for advance purchase.

    We plan on up to two groups of up to ten dogs (20 dogs total). There will be two setups – one group will work on quartering/ flushing/ retrieving while the other group will work on hunt dead, water retrieves and water blinds. There will be a mix of dogs and handlers (Newbies, Junior, Senior and Master) in each group. Each group will run one setup before a break and another setup after the break. Handlers may only train with one group on a given day. We may have to adjust our group format depending upon the number of handlers, dogs, and abilities. There will be a maximum of three dogs per person per setup – someone can bring more than three dogs, but can only run three dogs in each setup. People with two or more dogs are required to work in the field first before running their dogs in each setup. The mock test will be set up at the Master level and will be shortened/made easier as appropriate for newbie, junior and senior dogs who come to the line:

    • On land, birds will be planted closer to the center of the field for newbie and junior dogs; halfway between the field center and field edge for Senior dogs.
    • Junior dogs may try hunt dead.
    • On water, retrieve distances from the starting line will be shortened as appropriate for Junior and Senior dogs.
    • Senior dogs may attempt a water blind.
    • Master level hunt dead, water retrieves and water blinds can be set up to be more difficult than one would expect in a spaniel hunting test.

    Additionally, registrants for Training Day may have an option to train with Trish Jackson, a professional spaniel/upland trainer. If you choose this option, you will spend the day in the training group led by Trish where you will not only get a significant amount of one-on-one time with her, you will also be able to listen in as she works with other dogs and handlers, and watch occasional demonstrations with Trish and her cockers. The fee for this is an additional $25. If Trish is available for a particular date, there will be an option to sign up for this via the registration form. However, the actual payment for working with Trish Jackson will be made directly to her at the Training Day.

    Although we will take a midday break for lunch, food will not be provided. Please bring your own lunch, snacks, water and other refreshments.


    There will be six to eight Training Days during the year, no more than once a month on average. Due to potential heat and bird availability issues, we will most likely avoid training in late July and August; for cold weather reasons, we may avoid January and February. In general, we will try to schedule dates to avoid major holidays and conflicts with local flushing dog events as well as other MSDA activities.

    All Training Days for Flushing Dogs will be held on Fridays. Friday was chosen so we would have less competition for property and birds with other club training days that occur on a weekend and to avoid creating conflicts with AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests that typically occur on weekends. We know Fridays may be challenging for some people that work, but we will aim to select dates several months in advance so people can plan ahead. The training calendar be a little fluid – e.g., we may initially select McKee-Beshers WMA as a training spot and later hear that a field trail will be held on the same date, so we may change our training date and/or location.

    MSDA Field Activities Dates:

    • Friday-Sunday, March 4,5,6 at Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, MD. MSDA will conduct Instinct Clinics to introduce dogs to birds. These sessions are for dogs that have little or no field experience.
    • Friday, March 18 at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. Our first Training Day for Flushing Breeds.
    • Saturday, April 9 at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. MSDA’s annual Field Day. This is a fun day of training for Flushing as well as Pointing and Retrieving dogs. All “birdy” dogs, from true beginners to master hunters, are welcome. Much more information will be posted on MSDA’s website, and registration will open, in February.
    • Friday, April 29 (Location to be determined). Training Day for Flushing Breeds.
    • Saturday & Sunday, May 7-8 at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. MSDA’s spring AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests. Much more information will be posted on the MSDA website once these events are fully approved and details are finalized.
    • Friday, May 20 (Location to be determined). Training Day for Flushing Breeds.
    • More Training Days will be added for the summer and fall.

    Training Day participants are encouraged to also attend MSDA’s Annual Field Day and the Spaniel Hunting Tests.


    The goal is to train at different locations throughout the year, but that’s not to say that we won’t repeat locations in any given year. The “default” training location is Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. Unless we have another property lined up, the training will occur there. This allows us to have a site where we know we can train each time. Other potential locations include Shady Grove in Remington, Virginia, Rebel Ridge Farms, the C&D Canal dog training area in Delaware, McKee-Beshers WMA, Indian Springs WMA, Port Deposit and a few others.

    Fees and Registration:

    The per-day fees are $15 per dog for MSDA members and $20 per dog for non-members. If you are not sure if you are currently a club member, or would like to join MSDA, contact the club secretary, Pamela DeSmidt, at Bird fees will be set based on current costs; these can vary considerably during the year. The number of birds per dog may be limited for each session. If you are unsure about whether to order birds, or how many to order, please contact the Training Days committee chair, Steve Surprenant, at before you register.

    Registration and payment for all sessions will be online only and will be accepted in the order in which they are received. No email or phone entries will be accepted. Registration is not complete until payment is received; after payment is made, there will be no refunds.

    We are using PayPal to process the online payments. Major credit cards and PayPal are accepted. However, you do not need to have, or create, a PayPal account to pay online. PayPal does not share your credit card information with MSDA.

    Registration for each Training Day will open about two weeks in advance of the training date and will close about one week in advance (so we know for sure how many birds to buy). Registration could close earlier if the day fills up.

    The first Training Day of 2022 is planned for Friday, March 18 beginning at 8:30 am. It will be held at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. Online registration will open on Friday, March 4th and will close no later than 5 pm (ET) on Saturday, March 12th. The link to the registration form will appear here once registration opens.

    If you have any questions regarding these training days, please contact the event chair, Steve Surprenant, at

    Some Fine Print:

    All attendees will be required to sign an MSDA liability release. Most of you have already signed this on your membership form or when attending another MSDA activity. If we have your form on file, you do not need to sign again. Some locations used for Training Days also may require their own liability release. Links to these will be provided on the registration page for that date. Please read these and be sure that you are willing to sign before you register for the Training Day.

    Owners and handlers are reminded that they are responsible for their own dog’s actions and that good sportsmanship is expected at all times. If dogs (or humans!) exhibit inappropriate behavior or aggression, you will be directed to leave the Training Day immediately and may be excluded from future MSDA training sessions. Such decisions are made exclusively by the event chair, or other event committee member in the chair’s absence.