Can you improve a gundog’s focus?
MARK WHITEHOUSE SAYS: There are so many distractions and temptations in the shooting field that could (and do) create problems.
In your training programmes you need to recognise these distractions and temptations and work at minimising the difficulties that can arise from them.
When working on these exercises your gun dog must be sure in his mind what you want from him.
The two main rules are that your gun dog should bring back and deliver whatever is in his mouth, and he should go directly to the retrieve you have sent him for.
To start this exercise you should walk your gun dog at heel and blow the sit, whistle command.
As soon as he is sat down you should throw a retrieve for him straight ahead, some 15 metres or so.
Provided that he is steady you should then send him for the retrieve and on his return.
The distraction would be a tennis ball thrown over your shoulder and away from the gun dog, putting yourself directly in the return line of the ball.
So as to prevent any mishaps, I would keep encouraging the delivery of the dummy to hand and give him a verbal command to leave the tennis ball distraction.
Once he has delivered the dummy you should go out and pick the tennis ball yourself.
With this exercise he will soon learn that he only retrieves what he is sent for.