Col­lar rules

Sporting Shooter - - Gundog Experts -

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.

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