quartering a field
I have been trying to get my dog to learn how to quarter a field. I started by sending her out in front of me, I walked a zig zag pattern down a narrow field and kept her zig zaging left to right across the field smelling. She was doing it because I was telling her too but it didnt look like she understood why. So after a few times of this I decided to hide a few grouse wings in the field as we did it, she smelled the wings pretty much right off the bat and went for them, I was able to keep her in gun range. Doing it this way I am not sure she is figuring out how to quarter a field. Is it good to place a few wings out there to keep her interested or should I just stick to making sure she can properly quarter a field prior to introducing birds. Im open to any method or suggestion.
type of dog?
It sounds like you are doing fine...spaniel trainers are generally the king of quartering. They have two guys, one on each side at gun range or a little closer. They walk along with the handler and every so often throw a bird out in fron of where the dog will next quarter. So you throwing a wing out seems appropriate.
I do it different with my pointing dogs. I just use the check cord when they are young and walk a field with exaggerated 180 degree turns. I give them a little tug when they get to the end with no verbal command at first, and add the command later when they demonstrate proficiency.
However, in the end, I do not emphasize quartering so much as hunting "with" me and staying in touch (staying to the front and turning when I do). They learn to cover the field and the objectives more so than quarter. It is not a like a spaniel windshield wiper action.
You've got the right idea with the zig zag pattern. Get your dog into cover where the birds are going to be. Definitely use a long line.
Planting a few wings or even some fresh dead ones or even clipped and shackled birds works even better.
The reward is the bird. They will learn to use there nose and figure out it's time to hunt. You can cue them as well. I use "hunt em up" and point them towards the cover or even walk through the cover with them.
You can turn them verbally with a tug on the long line to get them to change direction. Later you can even teach them to turn with you with a vibrating or tone on an e collar. I don't like using a whistle. Because where I pheasant hunt in the lower 48. They get wise quick when they here that whistle.
Have fun training and good hunting.