springer spaniels with handler

If you’re looking for expert advice on gundog training then this is an excellent place to start. Our gundog experts will help you to train your gundog to the best of its ability – and yours – with this series of helpful tips, advice and instructional articles. Plus – look out for the gundog training answers, where your questions have been answered by training professionals.

Browse through many pieces including information on when to start training, doggy body language, improving marking, picking up and distance handling

Retriever on shoot

Retriever makes a noise

Q: My three-year-old flatcoated retriever has been a joy to train, is a really keen retriever and has been a good worker out on the shoot for the past two seasons, but she has just started making the faintest of noises in the back of her throat just before I…

springer spaniel

How gundogs scent

A gundog's sense of smell is one of its most valuable tools, but to take full advantage of this capability, it is important to understand how scent works.

dog recall

How to teach reliable dog recall

If there is one 
thing that sets the amateur handler apart from the professional, it is reliable dog recall. Whereas the professional has dogs that come galloping back on the 
first soft “toot” of their master or 
mistress’s whistle, the amateur has 
animals that will be galloping over the horizon…

gundog with gunslips

Gundog unreliable at the peg?

Q: I am getting my first Labrador puppy soon, which besides being a family pet, will be my shooting dog in the future hopefully. I say hopefully as this will be the first one I have trained myself. I used to borrow my father’s dog to take out driven shooting…

young springer spaniel gundog

Teaching a gundog to ignore distractions

Step 1: Start with the basics When moving on to a new exercise it is always worth going back a step or two 
and just reinforcing some earlier lessons. With Dolly, I took her back to some very basic steadiness lessons where I sat her 
up on a lawn and…

springer spaniels

Help! My young springer ‘freezes’ on a shoot

Q: I have a problem which seems difficult to solve. My young springer has just turned two and started going shooting in January, which was fine, she hunted well. 
We just went out with a couple 
of friends to shoot the odd cock pheasant and rabbit. I took her to…

Gundog training at Gleneagles

Are these the Eton and Harrow of gundog schools?

What could be more fun for a gundog puppy than to spend time with companions of the same age, with the same interests and energy? You have a few options. You can send your youngster off to canine boarding school for four to six months, where you’ll wave goodbye to…

gundog training

How to teach spaniels to head in the right direction

  Some people question whether you need to teach a gundog to go left and right; unless you just go beating it can be a useful skill to teach spaniels (and other gundogs). If you plan to shoot over your dog or want it to pick-up, there will be times when being able to re-direct it…

Black Labrador puppy

When your gundog won’t retrieve

“I recently got my first gundog puppy and I started training her straight away. To start with she would go and pick up a tennis ball, but now she just sits or lays down with it and refuses to bring it back to me. Is there anything I can do…

Gundog puppy

Tips on training a Labrador puppy

Training a Labrador puppy in a class certainly has its appeal.  But as in all things it pays to do your research before you commit yourself and your dog to what will undoubtedly be the most formative period in your future working partnership. What to look for in a class…

Labradors in pickup

The 12 commandments of choosing gundog training lessons

First, you should be made to feel welcome. I would expect the trainer to be an experienced spaniel handler with evidence of success in competition, 
or perhaps a field trial judge. The fee should reflect the level of facilities and numbers in the class. One-to-one lessons cost more but with…

Clumber spaniel puppy

What to expect with a new spaniel puppy

With the gameshooting season over and spring now upon us, I am sure there are many newcomers to our sport thinking about buying and training their first spaniel through the close season. Rearing and training your own spaniel puppy, and then taking it shooting, can be a very enjoyable and…

Spaniel entering heavy cover

Help! My gundog won’t go into heavy cover

Graham Watkins, Sporting Gun’s gundog guru offers a solution The causes First of all, this is a problem that can be overcome but it needs to be taken slowly and carefully because you don’t want to totally put the dog off entering cover. You haven’t mentioned whether you have a springer or a cocker spaniel and…

gundog steals

Help! My gundog steals others’ birds

Q: I thought I was doing a brilliant job on my woodland shoot where I pick-up. I always seemed to have more birds than all the others after each drive, but I did not realise my dog was pinching most of them off other dogs or stealing from the gamecart…

spaniel working cover

Teaching a spaniel to work cover

A: The more naturally you introduce her to working different types of cover, the better. Throwing a dummy into cover can make the process confrontational. If she is caused any pain by the entry, this could seriously affect her progress and her desire to retrieve. Avoid nettles, thistles, gorse and other such prickly covers until she is more experienced.…

Trained gundog

My dog ignores me out shooting

A: The dog may be trained to a very high standard but it is not mechanical and you, the handler, must form a strong bond with it and be trained how to handle your dog using commands delivered in a way in which the dog is familiar. Dog-to-human communication is not simple and you need to be able…

springer spaniel with dummy

Springer won’t deliver game

A: First, you need to work on recall in the training environment without the retrieving element. He should be encouraged using high-value rewards to come straight to you, then sit for a reward. I suspect that this may be the root of the problem, so working on his obedience and recall in this way will be the right…

English springer spaniels

My trained English springer spaniel isn’t listening anymore

A: In view of his still young age and the fact that you have not kept his training up through the summer, I would definitely advise that you get in touch with his trainer. He or she will be fully aware of all the dog’s attributes and whether there were any issues in training initially. The trainer…

gundog ready for the beating line

Get your gundog ready for the beating line

People often ask: “How old should my dog be before taking it into the beating line?” The truth is there is no straight answer — so much depends on the dog and the trainer’s ability. But the question every trainer should be asking themselves is: “Is my dog ready to go beating?” Of all the participants on a shoot,…