Gun dogs
PETER BLATCH says: In my opinion a fully trained gun dog is one that has moved away from dummies and is retrieving the real thing – by which time it will be three years old. It should have at least one year’s experience of picking up… and that includes dealing with pricked game.

Like it or not, most ‘trained’ dogs sold to the public have not been worked on live game for a season in this way. And this often comes down to what the eventual owner expects of a dog, including the price they’re prepared to pay for it.

Price is the deciding factor.

A lot of folk are happy to pay, say, £1,500 for a dog that’s obedient, will retrieve dummies/cold game, and respond to whistle commands and hand signals. But would they pay another £500+ for a dog that’s had a full season’s work in the shooting field? Maybe not!

You might say a dog without field experience is only 90% trained, but what does it matter if the eventual owner is prepared to finish off its education, as long as he/she does not expect too much of it in its first season with the gun?

I have so-called ‘trained’ dogs in my kennel, but I would never say they are fully trained because they have not had the experience of a full shooting season. In every other respect, however, they are spot on.

I agree with you a fully trained dog should have that experience. Only when it can retrieve pricked game and is confident in all aspects of the shooting field can it be described as ‘fully trained’.


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