Getting a gundog in water: I’m part of a picking-up team and halfway through last season I acquired a young spaniel to join the others in my team.

He has fitted in very well at home and in the field but he will not enter water.

A lot of my picking-up is in the ponds and river on our shoot.

What do you advise about getting a gundog in water?

Mark Whitehouse says: Getting a gundog in water in the middle of a season with temperatures of -10oC was not a good idea.

Water work with young gundogs can be very daunting and can make a gundog frustrated and insecure.

I have seen young gundogs stand on the bank and bark or whine, not because they can’t do it but because they haven’t been introduced to water correctly and are unsure about taking the plunge.

All water work should be introduced in the summer months when temperatures are a lot warmer, so it’s not such a shock to the system when they get wet.

Always start with shallow areas first and short retrieves.

As your gundog’s confidence grows increase the depth and distance accordingly.

At the beginning use a lightweight dummy that has good buoyancy and is easy to grip so when he arrives at his retrieve he doesn’t have to mess about or panic.

You are looking for a clean pick-up and swift return with no complications, hence no stress and maximum confidence.

Young gundogs should never fail, whatever the task.

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