Gun­dog Q&A

Shooting Gazette - - Gundogs - By Mike Barnes

QI like the idea of train­ing my puppy to take out on a shoot but I have quite a lot of com­mit­ments. How much time will it take?

AI hate that ques­tion. Train­ing your puppy should be a joy, a jour­ney and a great learn­ing process with a rea­son­able amount of ef­fort and com­mit­ment. Some­thing that is fas­ci­nat­ing and that you de­velop a pas­sion for. It is not a full­time job but it does re­quire time and ef­fort and you get some­thing spe­cial along the way. Gun­dogs should not be an­other ac­ces­sory and, un­for­tu­nately, many are viewed that way.

Peo­ple like the idea of a fully work­ing com­pan­ion but it is not a quick fix to get an ac­cept­able level of be­hav­iour in a shoot en­vi­ron­ment. I reg­u­larly get asked if I can train a dog and give it back once it is sorted and de­cline, as I feel the whole process of un­der­stand­ing the dog, its quirks and the bond that you can de­velop is com­pletely wasted and lost if some­one else does it. Plus, a lot of it is un­der­stand­ing your­self. Of course, there are some great dogs and equally great train­ers who will take the not in­sub­stan­tial fee and do all the work for you. The be­gin­ning of train­ing the dog is ar­guably the hard­est part as you are faced with bound­less ex­cite­ment, en­ergy and youth. To a trainer this is a huge as­set as you can work ex­er­cises into play and make the whole process an en­joy­able game while mould­ing the dog to be the work­ing an­i­mal you want. The down­side of this in­ex­orable en­ergy is that you need per­sis­tence, in­sis­tence, struc­ture and time.

It very of­ten feels you are one step for­ward and two back at the be­gin­ning of train­ing and it is the point that most peo­ple give in. It does take time and how long is com­pletely de­pen­dent on you and is di­rectly pro­por­tional to your level of en­joy­ment and abil­ity to achieve a goal.

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