Gundog Q&a

Shooting Gazette - - Gun Dogs - By mike Barnes


My seven-month-old springer is chas­ing sheep and I can­not seem to stop or re­call him. It is very con­cern­ing as he now knows how to get into the field and takes every op­por­tu­nity to chase them.


Un­for­tu­nately this is quite com­mon amongst dogs that are not ex­posed to farm an­i­mals. they, of course, see it as great fun, even if they mean no harm. You need to very quickly go back to the ba­sics of so­cial­i­sa­tion. be­ing around live­stock, horses, chick­ens and sheep should be no big deal to the dog, cou­pled with a healthy aware­ness that it is not ac­cept­able to chase any­thing in a field. You need to spend a lot of time find­ing an­i­mals and de­lib­er­ately walk­ing through and near to them quite calmly with the dog on the lead. And I mean a lot of time, un­til the dog is ca­pa­ble of ig­nor­ing them. So walk, sit, get near, let the dog get the scents, give lots of praise with equal amounts of ver­bal dis­ci­pline if the dog starts to go. It is one of the few ar­eas in train­ing where there is lit­tle lee­way and the dog has to know it’s un­ac­cept­able.

In the last issue of Shoot­ing

Gazette there was some de­bate on whether or not to smack dogs. I am cer­tainly in the ‘not’ camp but the use of higher lev­els of ver­bal dis­ci­pline is cer­tainly nec­es­sary here if the dog con­tin­ues. try and ad­vance from a lead to a long line (or some wash­ing line will do). It gives you the chance to test the steadi­ness with con­trol. If you know some­one with a chicken run or pheas­ant pen, try the same pro­ce­dure. most dogs at that age like to play and we are not stop­ping that, just en­forc­ing what is ac­cept­able to play with. I am cur­rently work­ing with a dog that is com­pletely steady and at ease with live­stock, but bumped into some goats for the

first time re­cently and it all went pear-shaped. back to the draw­ing board!

Mike has been rough and game shoot­ing, stalk­ing and fly fish­ing for over 30 years. His pas­sion is work­ing and train­ing gun­dogs in the field, with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on de­vel­op­ing the trainer as well as un­der­stand­ing the dog and its par­tic­u­lar...

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