By Paul Rawlings
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Gundog training: I am soon getting my first spaniel puppy, having previously owned Labradors. I have read several books, all written some time ago, but they all contradict each other on how to bring on a spaniel.
One says don’t let it near game or scent until it is fully obedient, while another recommends taking it on to gamey ground early on to begin its gundog training.
Another advocates letting the puppy chase game to get it hunting. What do you suggest?
Many of the books written decades ago were correct in that the authors advocated introducing puppies to fresh scent and rabbits at an early age.
In those days, one would be fortunate if all the puppies in a litter possessed a natural ability, so the easiest way to discover if they did have noses and could use them to hunt was to get them on to scent as quickly as possible.
Breeders of working spaniels have made far-reaching improvements to the trainability and quality of spaniels, so that now you would be unlikely to get a puppy that did not hunt naturally.
There is nothing wrong with taking puppies on to gamey ground to begin their gundog training early.
Making them world-wise and socialising them is essential during their early months.
The level of contact with game should not be such that by six months of age they are chasing everything that moves, but with sensible exposure at that age they should switch on when the smell of game is in their noses.
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