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

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,…

dogs in beating line

Gone off the whistle

A: It is more likely that working on live game has aroused his nose to such an extent that his ears are switching off when he is distracted by hot scent. A different whistle is not the answer but some urgent remedial training is essential to recapture full control. A dog does not respond to a whistle…


Dogs in the beating line need to be the best of all

If you were to look at the hierarchy of gundogs in the shooting field, you would more than likely consider dogs that work in the beating line at the bottom of list. But, in fact, they probably need to be the best trained of all the gun dogs in the field and they certainly work the hardest. All…

Gundogs out in the field

My gundog embarrasses me in front of other Guns

A: You probably allowed him to hunt quite freely on his first big day as he was so well behaved, but hunting game is far more exciting than walking at heel. He got to enjoy meeting other beaters, who probably greeted him in a friendly way. Dogs quickly learn to do things when they gain pleasure from…

gundog training with whistle

Gundog sloppy on the stop whistle

Graham says: I am assuming that at some point your dog was sharp on the stop whistle and I suspect that during the summer you have relaxed your regime and he has got away with ignoring your commands. Make no mistake: dogs get bored of hearing the stop whistle without any “reward” in the shape of…

Cherwell Gundog Club

£250 raised for air ambulance and children’s hospital

This is the first full year of training by the Club and everybody involved had a wonderful time, particularly the dogs! You can reach Cherwell Gundog Club here. Don’t forget to send the Editor of Shooting UK news of your charity successes with a good quality photograph.

handler with spaniels

What’s the most common spaniel problem for novice trainers?

A: Not only with Shooting Times readers’ queries but also in my other role as a professional gundog trainer and instructor, perhaps the hardest problem for newcomers to deal with is getting their spaniel to quarter properly and well in range without constant commands. So many promising young spaniels go through training smoothly until they are taken out and…

gundogs with shot and cold game

How to train gundogs with shot and cold game

As a gundog trainer with several dogs to progress, I have to look at each individual and work out a suitable training programme for every one and this can vary due to the dog’s personality and its level of maturity. Logan and Dolly, the two English springer spaniels, are now just over 12 months old and my…

stop whistle

How to introduce the stop whistle

Introducing the stop whistle is one area of gundog training that can cause handlers some issues — possibly because they rush it, so that the lesson is not fully learnt by the dog, or they overdo it and the dog grows bored. With my spaniels, I like to develop their stop whistle training with the dog…

Labrador retrieving dummy

Puppy won’t deliver dummy

A: This is an indication that he is being possessive and if this is allowed to continue with dummies it could have more serious outcomes when he is introduced to the real thing. He is obviously very good at the outrun, finding and picking-up the dummy. You therefore need to work separately on the recall and delivery.…