Gundog training expert
This is an annoying fault and is often a sign that a dog has been brought into the shooting field a little too soon.
Needless to say it’s a bad habit that must be stopped before it gets any worse because the bird the dog drops could be wounded and make an escape.
At the very least it will make the job of finding it again much more difficult.
To nip this problem in the bud you need to go back to a bit of basic dummy training. Place several dummies on the ground then throw a dummy for the dog to retrieve.
On its way back the dog will have to come passed the others and, if it shows the slightest interest in any of them, blow the recall whistle and bring it in to you.
Once you’ve got the dog coming directly back without looking at another dummy you should throw a retrieve as near as possible to the dog on its return to ‘invite’ it to run in.
As soon as it does, blow the stop whistle and give a stern ‘No’.
Now blow the recall and get it to come straight back with the dummy it was carrying in the first place.
The simple aim of this lesson of course is to make the dog 100% responsive to the ‘Stop’ whistle and to ensure it is concentrating on you.
For your part you also need to pay full attention to what your dog is doing after being sent for a retrieve; turning your back on him to take another shot or watch other people shoot is simply not on – he will quickly realise that you’re not watching and all your good training will quickly go out of the window.
Having said all this I have seen my own old fox red labrador come back with as many as three partridges in his mouth at once… a classic example, I suppose, of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks.