But when flushing birds she is overwhelmed, struggling with simple retrieves and dropping short before going into hunting mode and not taking any hand signals.

I once had to put her on her lead and picked birds myself.

Any advice?

MARK WHITEHOUSE SAYS: Keep your gun dog close so you can keep an eye on her when she comes into contact with game.

This gives you more control if she gets carried away.

If she starts to disobey the turn or stop whistle, sternly call her to heel and if necessary put her on the lead.

Walk her at heel to give her time to calm down.

Wait for most of the flushed birds to clear the ground and then start to work her again, keeping her under control.

She was dropping short and then going into hunting mode because she was charged-up from the previous drives.

She was playing a totally different role of hunting and flushing game.

As a young gun dog she is unable to cope with the two different roles.

The role that comes naturally to spaniels is hunting. This is why she went off the whistle.

You were right to put her on the lead, as this would have made her wonder what was going on and given her some food for thought.

Teaching gun dogs to concentrate and mark the retrieve down whilst under pressure from scent and other birds can be achieved with time and patience.

I do an exercise inside my training pen under the pressure of rabbits and pheasants.

I also do it when dogging-in on my local shoot.

Every 100 metres the gun dog works I will give a long marked retrieve forward as the birds are flushing.

This helps them concentrate on the fall area.


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