Gundog Q&A

Sporting Shooter - - Highland Diary -

All of your health, be­hav­iour and other gundog-re­lated ques­tions an­swered by our res­i­dent team of ex­perts


When my black Labrador bitch aged 14 months goes out on a re­trieve she goes out re­ally fast to the dummy, and about 50% of the time she gets to it, gives it a look and then just starts to sniff around and won’t pick it up. I have tried run­ning out to en­cour­age her but she just doesn’t seem in­ter­ested. Can you ad­vise?


HOWARD KIRBY replies: This is a prob­lem that clients present to us at Mul­len­scote on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, there’s no one thing that will fix this, but don’t worry, if you’re pre­pared to make some changes then you will be able to get her re­ally keen again.

Firstly, take a look at her day-to-day man­age­ment – is she get­ting too much other stim­u­la­tion from walks, toys, or too much train­ing, etc.? De­lib­er­ately try to make day-to-day life a lit­tle less ex­cit­ing for her. Once this is sorted she should be com­ing into your ‘class­room’ ab­so­lutely full of beans. For many, the re­newed ‘drive’ will be suf­fi­cient, but once some dogs have learned that they can get away with ig­nor­ing the dummy, they will sim­ply opt to do this.

With a dog that has got into this habit we will need to brush up on its gen­eral obe­di­ence. All the dogs we work with need to be sharp around us – heel, sit, stay, fo­cus, or the lack of it, will all con­trib­ute to shoddy re­triev­ing. Once the dog is work­ing with us, is happy to fol­low the rules and is not ter­ri­fied, there should be a huge dif­fer­ence. Then we can give her in­struc­tion: ‘Hey you, that dummy that I’ve just thrown, it’s com­pul­sory! Fetch it, straight out, pick it up, straight back – nice!’

This is al­most cer­tainly fix­able. Have a go at th­ese sug­ges­tions and don’t for­get to keep in touch and let us know how you’re get­ting on.

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