Gundog Q&A

Shooting Gazette - - Gundogs - By Mike Barnes

QI have spent quite a lot of time read­ing and learn­ing the se­quence and steps around train­ing a dog (which all seem fairly ob­vi­ous) but progress is re­ally slow. I take two steps for­ward and one back.

AWell that’s OK then, as long as it’s not the other way around! I can­not re­ally com­ment on how you are get­ting on with­out ac­tu­ally be­ing there, but your point does raise an im­por­tant issue. You are quite cor­rect in that the steps and ex­er­cises in train­ing are quite self ev­i­dent. We all use them to achieve a sim­i­lar goal and the agenda for all is around steadi­ness, re­call, hunt­ing, re­triev­ing, good man­ners and so on.

Where we can strug­gle is in the de­liv­ery of the ex­er­cises and our abil­ity to teach and com­mu­ni­cate with the dog. We are all dif­fer­ent, our dogs are all dif­fer­ent, our ap­proach is dif­fer­ent, as are our ex­pec­ta­tions. Some things are very dif­fi­cult to trans­late from a book and we are not al­ways aware of how we are be­hav­ing and de­liv­er­ing the train­ing. I see it reg­u­larly with some clients who use whis­tles too much, vary their in­sis­tency and con­sis­tency, lose pa­tience, fail to give clear and well-timed com­mands, rush train­ing or fail to build on the early steps as they progress. There is al­ways some stick­ing point in any train­ing and it’s quite im­por­tant to put in the time and work through it (or not, and ac­cept the con­se­quences).

Have a good look about how you are ap­proach­ing it. Where do the frus­tra­tions lie and where does the train­ing break down? Shift the at­ten­tion and fo­cus off the dog and look at your­self. Get­ting some­one else to watch you is great for re­veal­ing 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 pur­pose. He is an instructor with the Guild of Dog Train­ers and coaches with Lin­colnshire Pet Gun­dogs. He also runs Rut­land Gun­dogs and can be con­tacted on 07803 617859.

un­known habits and it also helps you to be cre­ative about the whole pro­cess.

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