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I am thinking of buying an 11-month-old springer spaniel bitch from an elderly gentleman whose health has deteriorated so that he is unable to train the youngster. It is untouched and has never even had a lead on it. However, the dog comes from good stock and I wonder if I would be able to train her to full hunting level?

PAUL RAWLINGS says:

I am absolutely positive that the bitch can be fully trained, even at this age.

How you should go about the task depends on its previous management. I once took on a 14-month-old springer that had lived all its early life in a remote kennel with only the occasional run out with older dogs.

She was not at all socialised with people or used to any other environment, but once she gained confidence I was able to start the basics, just as one would with a six-month-old puppy.

However, if your dog has been over-socialised, it may be as bold as brass and chase everything in sight.

Treat it as though it is a puppy, but do not allow any more freedom in the open until it is fully obedient and answers the recall whistle perfectly in a confined area, field or rabbit pen.