MSDA Field Training Basics

Offered Two Days
Saturday October 24th and Sunday October 25th, 2020
10 am – 3 pm

Hosted by Alex & Steve Roth
8809 Slate Quarry Road, Dickerson MD

Fee: $10 per dog per day. You may sign up for either or both days.

These days offer an introduction to field work for all sporting dogs. A limited registration of not more than 25 dogs per day will be dispersed among multiple fields and simultaneous activities. There will be no live fire or shot birds.

Look who’s coming! As of 9/27, we have 12 dogs signed up for Saturday and 10 for Sunday. One or more of the following breeds are registered: Barbet, Clumber Spaniel, English Setter, Field Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Vizsla, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.

This is intended to be a relaxed, fun day to work on some basic training with your sporting dog. Dogs and handlers of all levels are very welcome. If your dog has never met a bird or entered a hunt test, we’ll try to get you started with some basic field training to work on over the winter. Those with some field experience may benefit from a bit of extra practice or a hearing a different approach to training. We are not setting any firm schedules in advance and are expecting people to move among the activities at their own pace. Overall, we’re aiming to keep it light and fun, but productive – “play training”.

  • There will be 3-4 fields set up each day to work on handling and obedience skills and drills. One field will have taller grass for more advanced work.
  • Also, specific training will be offered for:
    • Intro to Bird Scent: Chase a bundle of pheasant wings on a fishing pole and inhale the tantalizing scent of live pigeon. Tethered pigeons will be used as an introduction to birds.
    • E-collar Conditioning: Why and how to use an e-collar for field training. Demonstrations and work with individual dogs including fitting, selecting levels and practice. Sunday only. (However, several trainers have experience with e-collars and will be happy to answer questions on Saturday.)
    • Yard Work with Placeboards: This is for dogs and handlers who are just starting upland or retriever work, or who want help taking their dogs to a higher level. The session will cover Jordan Horak’s approach to foundation-building in the yard. We will use placeboards, speed leads and no leads to teach basic upland and retrieving commands, e.g., place, casting-off, quartering, hand signals, steadiness, and whistle commands (hup, turn, draw-in and recall).
  • Ask Me Anything: In addition to conversation that happens as part of the training activities, trainers will be available to sit down in small groups and just answer questions, including how to get started with hunt tests, good places to train, how to find training groups, what equipment you need, good places to buy supplies, how to get more involved with MSDA, or any other relevant topic. Just join the group and ask!

The trainers for the weekend are: John Bruggerman (Sunday only), Betsy Harringer, Ken Harringer, Steve Roth, Brian Schmidt (Sunday only), and Steve Surprenant. John is a professional trainer of sporting dogs and is experienced with many breeds. Betsy and Ken are obedience instructors at the Capital Dog Training Club and have three sporting dogs of their own. All our esteemed faculty members have trained dogs to advanced levels (e.g., Master Hunter), and all are volunteering their time and expertise.

Your dog should be wearing a buckle collar and have you on a short (max 6’) lead. E-collars are welcome but not required. Bring your training whistle and favorite retrieving toys or bumpers, if you have them. Definitely bring plenty of water for your dog and some tasty doggy treats.

The registration and payment deadline is Tuesday evening October 20th. Just 1) fill out the brief online form at the bottom of this page and 2) submit your payment securely online or mail a check.

This weekend goes on “rain or shine”, though one or both days could be canceled in case of severe weather, pandemic resurgence, or whatever other disasters 2020 might yet have in store. We will email and/or call everyone if this becomes necessary, using the contact information you provide on the registration. If a day is canceled or if you are unable to attend due to illness (yourself or your dog) or because your bitch comes into season and you let us know by 8 am on the event date, we will credit your payment to a future MSDA field event or the November 2020 Puppy Match.

Like all of our fall events, these activities will be entirely outdoors and safety protocols including social distancing and masks covering your nose and mouth will be required. In addition, signed liability releases will be required of everyone. Even if you have signed one before (e.g., on your membership application or for Field Day), you must sign again because we now have included language relating to Covid-19. To keep things simple, we are asking you to just bring your signed liability release(s) with you to the event. (We’ll have blank forms at the event, too.) If you are not willing to cheerfully comply with these procedures, and also take the risk of being around other people, please do not attend.

There will be a port-o-john and handwashing station, along with hand sanitizer dispensers on the property. We’ll have some drinking water available, but MSDA is not providing food, sodas, coffee, etc. at this event and there will be no potluck sharing of food. Please bring your own (non-alcoholic) drinks, snacks, and lunches. Be polite and deposit recyclables and trash in the appropriate containers, and scoop poop from anywhere other than the field with tall grass.

Last note, for those of you familiar with the Roths’ property, sorry, but the pool with be closed and covered.

For questions about these training days, contact Steve Roth (hunting For questions about registration, to change or cancel your reservation, or if you have problems with the form, contact Pamela DeSmidt (


Note: we ask for your email and phone so we can communicate with you, for example, in case weather affects the training schedule.

Please check over your responses above, and then click

An autoresponder will email you confirmation of your registration. If you don’t receive it within a few hours (please check your spam folder), contact Pamela.


Your confirmation email includes the address to mail a check. Or click on the “Buy Now” button below to pay securely online. We’re using PayPal to accept online payments, but you can pay with a major credit card even if you don’t have, or want, a PayPal account. Whichever payment method you use, the fee is $10 per dog per day. Payments must be received by Tuesday evening, October 20th.