She wants to be a yard in front of me all the time and is easily distracted. How can I sort this problem out?
Jeremy Hunt says: Overcoming this problem in an older gundog is not always easy, but it’s not impossible. Walking correctly to heel is something that comes almost as second nature to some gundogs but is totally alien to others.
Your gundog has developed her own agenda when it comes to walking at heel and you need to re-programme her so she understands her sole job is to be focused on you. You must regain control of this situation so that, in her mind, you are more important than anything else that is going on around you both – not an easy task in a bitch that has clearly set the ground rules!
Some may suggest all manner of corrective measures, such as using a choke chain, jerking backwards, harsh words, and waving a long stick in front of a gundog nose to act as a deterrent.
Try any of them if you must but this gundog has to learn that she can no longer be dominant in this situation, and to achieve that I would tackle it in a different way. Showing your disapproval both verbally and physically will only add fuel to the fire, increase the tension and make her even more headstrong.
My advice would be to go down a few gears. Go back to using your lead, start walking at varying paces and making quick turns so she has to keep her wits about her, but don’t let her get excited. Do lots of sits to refocus her on you.
Talk calmly and start to regain her focus and attention. Some may disagree but I would use treats to achieve this focus because she needs to be totally fixed on you and nothing else. In training when she does creep forward make a sharp turn, keep her on her toes and maintain calmness in everything. Try to start off the new training regime in an area devoid of temptations that may distract her.