Q: I bought a one-year-old trained English springer spaniel (ESS) last year and he was good out shooting last season, hunting and retrieving well when I was shooting on my own and when I took him beating. I was called abroad to work this summer for six months and when I got back I took him out shooting again on 1 October. He seemed to have forgotten all his training. He is not listening and is moving after game flushes, and runs-in as well. Should I take him back to the trainer or will I be able to sort this out?

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 may give one-to-one lessons and this could be all that is needed to put you back on track. Or it may be that a few weeks’ residential work with the trainer is the best course of action.

Just as our guns need proper maintenance after the shooting season has ended, dogs do still need stimulation and practice during the close season to keep them fit for purpose. Your ESS was probably looked after very well in your absence, but repetitive playing with tennis balls or free exercise out in the countryside are not helpful to maintaining good control. A refresher course of training is definitely necessary before he goes out shooting again.