Gundog training expert


The ‘get back’ is one of the most important and useful commands used to push gun dogs back into an area in which to hunt for shot game.

I usually start training for this in a situation that will help and not hinder the gun dog so I use a fence or wall on one side to keep the gun dog going straight when I actually send it back for a retrieve.

I start by walking along the boundary then stopping, turning and throwing a seen retrieve.

I then turn the gun dog and walk on a few more paces. Stop, get the gun dog to sit facing me and send it back for the retrieve using the command ‘get back’.

As the gun dog leaves me I repeat the words ‘get back’ several times as it heads towards the dummy.

Once the gun dog is confident that there is always a dummy to be found I move on with the same training format but one that does not let the gun dog see the dummy being thrown.

If the gun dog is confident that you are sending it back for something, it should leave you with gusto, although I still repeat the words ‘get back’ several times.

Assuming the gun dog is steady, you can then proceed to a situation (also against a fence or wall) where the gun dog can be made to sit facing you and a dummy can be thrown over its head – taking care not to throw it so low that the  gun dog ducks but not too far behind either.

Raising the right hand and with the required ‘flicking gesture’ of the palm and outstretched fingers, give the command ‘get back’.

Hopefully the gun dog will turn to retrieve the dummy.

Sometimes I have found that gun dogs cansit rooted to the spot; if that happens I usually take a step forward towards the gun dog and, giving further encouragement, it usually serves to ‘push’ it into turning and undertaking the retrieve.

I always repeat the ‘get back’ command during the run out.

Only when you are happy that the gun dog is clear about exactly what the command means should you progress to more distant control.

You should then be able to move a good distance from your gun dog, throw the dummy behind it and send it on the ‘get back’ command.

  • jordan

    i have sevral spanielsthat are used regularlyat every shoot i attend also i have a black lab .. if the spaniel is retriving the ball yet not fetching it back to you , stand tall and stern and continue to call the dog back , if the dog still refuses to return slowly approach the dog drop the tone in your voice and continue to repeat to the dog to come back , if that still fails continue to approch the dog phyisically take the dummy/ball from the dog and sternly use your choosen phrase such as drop, dead , leave ect.. persistance is key .dont let the dog have the power show it whos boss, get back to me and let me know how you get on . jordan

  • Kat Skelton

    i would suggest using 2 retrieves with him to start with. have him sit next to you & throw out the first one a short distance. when he’s picked it up throw out the second one (obviously you need to position your self so that he can see you throw it out) whilst he is tracking over to pick the new retrieve up go & pick the old retrieve up & throw it out again as soon as he’s picked up the last one you threw.
    If you use this technique you are taking control of the game & it is easier to engage him. once you have him retrieving to this you can begin to work on his delivery.
    hope that helps you on your way to working him.

  • John Clarke

    Hi Folks,

    I have a one year old Springer Spaniel, I want to use him as a gundog now as I think he is old enough.

    Now he can be a little bit hyper and not come back when called, I have him sitting beside me when I throw a ball for him, he is very good at hunting but when he finds the ball, he wont bring it back to me, keeps sitting down and playing with it.

    How can I stop this as its the main thing that is letting me down? I would love to have him retrieving from water now that the Duck season has just started.

    Would love to hear back from you.

    Thanks for your help