Training Days for Flushing Dogs

MSDA is holding Training Days for flushing dogs. Sessions are primarily on Fridays, approximately monthly. The typical day goes from 8:30 am to 3:30 or 4 pm, but times may vary. The per-day fee is $25 per dog for MSDA members and $30 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.

So far in 2022, there have been five sessions, in March, April, May, June and September. The next Training Day for Flushing Dogs will be Friday, November 11 at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. The November session will be land-only and focused on quartering, flushing and retrieving.

Open registration won’t start until late October and emails will be sent out announcing the registration time and date.

Please direct questions to the Event Chair, Steve Surprenant, via

The first Training Day of the season was March 18 and some photos, taken by Lori Taylor, are shown below. Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

The second Training Day of 2022 was April 29. More of Lori Taylor’s photos are shown below. Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

Much more information about these Training Days is below. If you would like to be notified when dates are selected and when registrations will open and close for each training day, just fill out this form.

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    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 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 general advice, 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.

    Each training day is expected to accommodate 16-18 dogs, usually divided into two groups. If time allows, we will train on land and water. There will be a mix of dogs and handlers (Newbies, Junior, Senior and Master) in each group. 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.  People with two or more dogs may be required to work in the field first before running their dogs in each setup.

    • 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. Trish is an internationally-recognized training professional. She has trained field champions and master hunters over the years and has several dogs in the ASC Field Hall of Fame. She is an active breeder, avid hunter, highly-requested hunting guide, and a firm believer in field obedience.

    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.

    Most 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.

    So far in 2022, there have been Training Days on Friday March 18 and on Friday April 29, both at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD, and on Friday, May 20th and Friday, June 17th at Mount Ararat Farm in Fort Deposit, MD.

    MSDA Upcoming Field Activities Dates:

    • There will be no Training Days scheduled during July and August, to avoid the hot weather.
    • Friday, September 9 (the week before MSDA’s Fall 2022 Hunt Test Weekend). Training Day for Flushing Dogs, at a location yet to be determined
    • Saturday & Sunday, September 17-18. Two day – two events – of Spaniel Hunting Tests at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. All flushing breeds are welcome to enter.


    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 $20 per dog for MSDA members and $25 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 and you have received your detailed confirmation email; after payment is made, there will be no refunds unless you are placed on a waitlist.

    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.

    We will try to keep the registration page updated, but, if sessions fill up too quickly, you may be placed on a waitlist. You will be notified of this when you receive your detailed confirmation email. Depending on the training location and availability of volunteers, we may be able to accommodate a few extra registrations. However, if you are waitlisted, and do not get a spot by the time registrations close, you may choose either to receive a full refund or to roll your registration over to the next Training Day (putting you at the front of the line for that session).

    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.