spaniel working cover

Teaching a spaniel to work cover

A: The more naturally you introduce her to working different types of cover, the better. Throwing a dummy into cover can make the process confrontational. If she is caused any pain by the entry, this could seriously affect her progress and her desire to retrieve. Avoid nettles, thistles, gorse and other such prickly covers until she is more experienced.…

Trained gundog

My dog ignores me out shooting

A: The dog may be trained to a very high standard but it is not mechanical and you, the handler, must form a strong bond with it and be trained how to handle your dog using commands delivered in a way in which the dog is familiar. Dog-to-human communication is not simple and you need to be able…

springer spaniel with dummy

Springer won’t deliver game

A: First, you need to work on recall in the training environment without the retrieving element. He should be encouraged using high-value rewards to come straight to you, then sit for a reward. I suspect that this may be the root of the problem, so working on his obedience and recall in this way will be the right…

Picker up with gun dogs

What’s a gundog worth?

Last week I started my 2016/17 picking-up season at my regular shoot, near Henley-On-Thames in Oxfordshire. During lunch there was the normal early season grumblings about how much people get paid and how such and such a shoot has increased its daily rate. I never get involved in these conversations, let’s be honest in “normal” life if someone offered…

Dog with pet passport

Pet passports and Brexit

Neil says: Well, your guess is as good as mine. Current EU legislation requires that dogs travelling between member states must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and possess a pet passport. The UK has a derogation, which allows us to insist that animals are treated for tapeworms between one and five days prior to entry. This…

Sprocker spaniels

Sprocker spaniel versus cocker spaniel

It’s a sad fact that in virtually every competitive sport there are those prepared to try to win or fix a result by unfair or unsporting means. Sometimes it’s for financial gain or it may be for personal glory, but it’s all about cheating. You don’t have to look far to find examples in cricket, cycling, athletics, even pigeon racing.…

gundogs with shot and cold game

How to train gundogs with shot and cold game

As a gundog trainer with several dogs to progress, I have to look at each individual and work out a suitable training programme for every one and this can vary due to the dog’s personality and its level of maturity. Logan and Dolly, the two English springer spaniels, are now just over 12 months old and my…

12 bore shotguns

12 bore vs 16 bore – the great debate

12 Bore By Ben Samuelson Is there a smugger calibre than the 16 bore? Twenty is fine if you’re not strong enough to carry a real gun; 28 is acceptable if you wish to invite universal derision every time you miss a bird and .410 is delightfully mad – but 16 bore is just…

stop whistle

How to introduce the stop whistle

Introducing the stop whistle is one area of gundog training that can cause handlers some issues — possibly because they rush it, so that the lesson is not fully learnt by the dog, or they overdo it and the dog grows bored. With my spaniels, I like to develop their stop whistle training with the dog…

dog ear mites

Does my dog have ear mites?

Q: My German shorthaired pointer has recently started scratching her ears and shaking her head. Both ears are dirty and, when I clean them out, there appears to be an excessive amount of dark wax inside. There is no particularly bad smell, so I don’t think the ears are infected.…

Labrador retrieving dummy

Puppy won’t deliver dummy

A: This is an indication that he is being possessive and if this is allowed to continue with dummies it could have more serious outcomes when he is introduced to the real thing. He is obviously very good at the outrun, finding and picking-up the dummy. You therefore need to work separately on the recall and delivery.…

price of dogs

How much do trained dogs cost?

A shooter’s companion, a best friend — our dogs are amazing creatures. Some of them are also worth a lot of money. In 2013, a sheepdog sold for £9,240, and in May this year another sold for just under £15,000 at an auction in Skipton – so what is the price of dogs? Guard dogs and…

gundog with walkers

Dog conjunctivitis

A: From what you describe, your dog is likely to have developed dog conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis refers to in inflammation of the sensitive lining inside the eyelids. The conjunctiva has a rich blood supply so when irritated it gets red and becomes inflamed and itchy. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye disorders in dogs Typically, the…

new dog to picking-up team

How to introduce a new dog to your picking-up team

At this time of the year many of us are looking to either buy a new pup or a slightly older youngster. I tend to look two years ahead as this is roughly the time that it takes for most trainers to get a dog into the shooting field. One…

dog dandruff

How to treat a Labrador with flaky skin

A concerned reader asked this question regarding dog dandruff: Our two-year-old black Labrador has developed flaky skin that is visible when I pull back his coat. I first noticed it after I washed him down after a particularly muddy afternoon shooting woodies. It does not seem to bother him, he does…

working cocker spaniel puppy

Puppy vaccinations – what you need to know

A: I have always tried to pick up my new puppies at eight weeks or very soon after. This, I believe, is the optimum time to be able to become a replacement parent for the puppy and to begin forming a close bond with it. Usually they have not begun their vaccination…

Rescue dog

Can you give a rescue dog a home?

If you are looking for a gundog, there’s an alternative to the usual purchase of a pedigree puppy. Instead of buying a puppy, get a rescue dog, because there are hundreds of gundogs out there in need of a good home. I recently recieved the following email: “Due to the passing…

Retiring lurcher from ferreting

Retiring a lurcher from a ferreting career

It is at this time of year when I scrutinise the strengths and weaknesses of my ferrets and ask myself questions such as which hob do i breed from to improve my stock, which hob and jill will pair up best to reinvigorate the line and what equipment needs replacing, repairing…

Cocker spaniel in field

12 questions about spaniels answered

How can I improve my spaniel’s picking up skills? The gundogs in question are 10-month-old litter brothers – one is a good hunter, the other bad at retrieving. What can be done about it? Shouldn’t working spaniels have docked tails? A reader is worried about two young spaniels with tails that are…

Heel work and quartering

How to improve heel work and quartering

During the past month Remy, the Labrador puppy, has been coming along really well with his lead work, and over the past week or so I have gently started to introduce some more formal heel work but this has not been without its challenges. To encourage the little dog to…