I am constantly on my whistle because he deviates from the line and often gets his nose down too early.
Gun dogs on our shoot have to find a lot of unmarked birds and when I whistle he look to me for help.
How can I stop this and still have a gun dog that’ll do the retrieval work I want him to?
JEREMY HUNT SAYS: I think most people would agree that the type of gun dog you require on your type of shoot doesn’t need to be one that operates so fast that he’s at risk of ‘running over’ the game he’s sent for and ends up missing it.
However, he definitely needs to respond to you in terms of the direction in which you are sending
for a retrieve.
Constantly correcting him because he is not leaving you like a rocket and putting in a competitive style performance is going to make him over-anxious and too dependent on you.
Putting speed aside, I think you need to get back to building his confidence and avoid him stopping
and looking to you for help.
This is something that is probably as much about him pre-empting your whistle to stop him as much as anything else.
Go back to using the well tried system of a wall, preferably in an enclosed area so that you can make the best use of the line of the wall to keep him straight.
Try and find a long wall because you are going to have to start off giving him blind retrieves of perhaps just 20 yards and gradually building up the distance as he gains confidence.
This will help re-build his belief in himself so that he is up and onto the dummy before he’s had the
chance to question if he is doing the job right and looks for help.
On your type of shoot I expect your gun dog will often be operating out of sight.
I think if you continue to try and develop those fast outruns for very long blind retrieves – which look very impressive and certainly are the hallmark of the top field trail gun dogs – you won’t be developing the skills you need in your own gun dog in your own situation.
Be very careful that your gun dog doesn’t develop an independence that means he takes things into his own paws when he’s out of sight of you on a shoot day.
Ensure the stop whistle always achieves the right response in all other situations.
But blowing to stop him on his outrun, as a means of correcting him for some misdemeanour, should be avoided in future.
Providing he comes up and onto the dummy in training before his line of direction has begun to waver, this should encourage a straight out-run even as the distance is extended