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Sporting Gun - - TOP-UP TRAINING -

The causes

First of all, if I was you, I would take a deep breath and take a step back or two. You have a young pup that needs to get used to not only to you, but also her new en­vi­ron­ment. She will need to have her in­oc­u­la­tions be­fore she can go out into the big wide world. Pro­vided you have cho­sen your pup from good work­ing stock you should have all the ge­net­ics in place, but you still have a blank can­vas to work on. She will need to grow not only phys­i­cally but men­tally, and you’ll need to con­stantly ad­just your train­ing pro­gramme depend­ing on how she is coming along. Re­mem­ber, with luck, you should have the dog as a shoot­ing com­pan­ion for many years to come, so take your time and en­sure that each les­son is fully em­bed­ded be­fore mov­ing on. Gun­dog train­ing is like build­ing a house… get the foun­da­tions solid and the rest will last forever.

Far too many novice train­ers rush to start “train­ing” their young dogs. One of the most com­mon mis­takes that peo­ple make is to overdo any ex­er­cise, and the main one is re­triev­ing. If you keep throw­ing balls or dum­mies for a young puppy it will soon get bored and that can man­i­fest it­self into all sorts of is­sues, rang­ing from bury­ing the re­trieve to run­ning off – or even re­fus­ing to pick it up at all.

Try­ing to get a young pup to do some­thing that it is not phys­i­cally ca­pa­ble of man­ag­ing can also have detri­men­tal ef­fects on its long-term train­ing. For ex­am­ple, try­ing to get a puppy into wa­ter on a cold day or throw­ing re­trieves into heavy cover, such as bram­ble, can quickly de­ter the dog from even at­tempt­ing these tasks in the fu­ture.

By far the most com­mon mis­take that is made is that the early train­ing

(ba­sic obe­di­ence) is rushed and not fully in­grained in the dog. So, when mov­ing onto more com­plex ex­er­cises, prob­lems will man­i­fest them­selves and this will then lead to the trainer hav­ing to cor­rect these is­sues be­fore mov­ing on… it can be a case of one step for­ward and two steps back!

It is a good idea to have a clear idea of what you want to do with your dog right from the start, this way you can set out a train­ing pro­gramme that suits your needs. For ex­am­ple, if you only plan to use your dog in the beat­ing line, you would con­cen­trate more on the steadi­ness and keep­ing the dog hunt­ing close to you. On the other hand if you want to only pick-up with the dog, you would en­cour­age its re­triev­ing and han­dling skills.

Gra­ham Watkins runs Game­goer Gun­dogs and has been train­ing gun­dogs pro­fes­sion­ally for more than 35 years. He has com­peted in Field Tri­als and work­ing tests, with sev­eral dogs achiev­ing Cham­pion and Win­ner ti­tles.

ge­net­ics Pro­vided you chose your pup from a good work­ing stock, you should have all the ge­net­ics in place

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