QWe have recently brought home our first Labrador puppy. Whilst he is first and foremost a pet and will live indoors with us, I am a keen shooter and intend to train him as a gundog. All the gundogs that I see in the shooting field are not wearing collars. I totally understand that this is to avoid any risk of dogs getting caught up in trees and fences. As I’m going to train my Labrador as a working gundog, is it worth me getting him a collar? As I intend to lead-train him using a slip lead, it seems pointless getting one...
AHOWARD KIRBY replies: Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992 every dog, while on a public highway or place of public resort, must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on it or a plate or badge attached to it. There are exceptions to this; one of which is that this rule does not apply while a dog is being used for sporting purposes, i.e. shooting. So you will need to have a collar and identity tag for your dog while going about your daily life, but you must remove it when working him.
As you correctly say, there is a risk to our dogs when they are wearing collars; they can get snagged on all manner of things, which can be catastrophic. There are many instances of dogs strangling themselves in dog crates because their collars have become entangled, and only yesterday a client of mine reported that while out walking, her two dogs were playing and one of them managed to get his jaw caught in the other’s collar. This caused the dog to panic and, in his struggle to get away, he twisted over and over, which then strangled the second dog. Fortunately, the owner was able to part the pair, but it was a very close call.
You should always know where your dog is while in public or out shooting; if you can’t see him, or at the very least know where he is, if something goes wrong you will not know where to find him. I know personally of a dog that fell down an old disused well and wasn’t found until the next day, and there are many other similar stories.
So use your common sense – ensure the dog’s collar is fitted correctly; keep the dog close and in view; and take his collar off when he’s working, but also if you are going to leave him on his own either at home, in his crate, kennel or in the car. Ensure he is microchipped so that if he does get lost and someone finds him, he will be returned to you much quicker.
QMy friend has offered to take my lurcher and me with him when he goes out rabbit shooting. The idea is that the dog gets some runs and also some retrieves. Does this sound a good idea?
AJACKIE DRAKEFORD replies: You need to establish clear safety rules so that rabbits aren’t shot at if the dog is running them, and it would be better if your dog stays on the slip while your friend shoots, rather than relying on obedience. Prior work getting your dog accustomed to the noise of shooting would be time well spent, because many lurchers are noise sensitive. Start carefully with distant noise and work up to closer shooting very gradually, using plenty of reward.
Some lurchers never accustom to gunfire, some adapt easily, and you won’t know which yours is until you try. If your dog is fearful, do not persist, because you risk him bolting.