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A useful guide to gundog vocabulary

Do you know your FTCh from your FTW? What D/DC means? The difference between "get out and "get In?" Here is our essentially glossary.

English springer spaniels

English springers are arguably the most versatile breed of gundog

If you’re relatively new to the gundog world (or maybe even something of an old hand) there may well be abbreviations and gundog commands that aren’t very familiar. After all, there are different gundog commands for the different gundog breeds, which confuses things further.

To help, we’ve compiled the list below which lists all the most important gundog commands and terms that you’re likely to come across.

Read on and all will be revealed.

Labrador gundogs in the field

Our definitive guide to gundog commands, terminology and phrases

  • Action and style – this reference is to the way a dog works when hunting or retrieving, particularly used in the spaniel world.
  • Back wind – wind directly coming from behind the handler.
  • Blind retrieve – a dummy/bird retrieve which has either fallen or been placed out of sight of the dog.
  • Blinking – is when a dog finds game and refuses to retrieve it.
  • Cheek wind – wind direction from left or right of the handler.
  • Cold game – previously shot game such as pheasant, duck, partridge etc, which is cold stored or frozen and can be used for “out of season” retrieving practice.
  • Cover – natural or planted vegetation which serves as both protection and concealment for game.
  • Creep/creeping – a term used to describe a gundog that slowly moves forward when told to sit.
  • D/DC – stands for docked and dew clawed. (Read our useful guide to the latest tail docking laws here.)
  • Dead – a verbal command given to a dog to release a retrieve.
  • Decoy/distraction – when retrieving, any object that may distract a dog away from what it has been sent to retrieve.
  • Drive – a term to describe the speed and style
  • of a gundog, especially when entering thick cover such as bramble.
  • Dummy – made from various materials and comes in numerous shapes, the standard object for teaching retrieving.
  • Eye wipe – the term is used when one dog fails to find a retrieve and then another dog is successful. In the case of a field trial it is found by one of the judges.
  • False pointing – when a dog points but no game is produced.
  • Fetch – a verbal command used to send a dog out on a seen retrieve. Commonly used for marked retrieves.
  • Field Trial – a competitive event where gundogs compete against one another on live game. There are field trials for retrievers, spaniels, pointers and setters.
  • First dog down – a field trial term used to describe when the first dog is sent for a retrieve of an injured bird and fails to find it.
  • Flush – the act of finding and flushing (making it fly or run) game that is hiding in cover for the Gun to shoot.
  • FTAW – “Field Trial Award Winner”. A dog that has won an award at a field trial, for example Certificate of Merit (COM) or higher, but not actually won the trial itself.
  • FTCh – “Field Trial Champion”. A dog that has won at least three days’ worth of field trial open stakes.
  • FTW – “Field Trial Winner”. A dog that has been placed first in a field trial. Technical terms such as FTCh and FTW represent gundogs that have competed in field trials on live game under Kennel Club rules, achieving the highest standard of award.
  • Gallery – a group of individuals observing a field trial; an audience.
  • Game – any species that can be legally hunted for sport, such as pheasant, partridge, grouse, rabbit or hare.
  • Gamebag – a bag for carrying retrieved game.
  • Game sense – a dog’s ability to use its natural senses and ability to find dead or injured game.
  • Game steward – someone who will carry and despatch game for a field trial.
  • Get in – a spoken command given to a gundog normally meaning to “get in” water or cover.
  • Get on – as per the command “back”, a verbal instruction used to indicate to your dog to proceed in a straight line until finding a dummy/bird, or can be used to start a spaniel hunting.
  • Get out – a verbal command given to a gundog when using hand signals to send them either the left or right.
  • Give – is a verbal command used to get a gundog to release the retrieved item held by the dog.
  • Go back – used to send your dog in a straight line until finding a dummy/bird. Often associated with blind retrieves rather than marked retrieves.
  • Go back and fetch – mainly used by HPR handlers when sending the dog out for a retrieve.
  • Gun sense – a dog’s ability to have awareness of the swing of a gun and to follow the general direction of the shot.
  • Gun shy – a dog that fears loud noises, in particular the sound of gunfire.
  • GWT – gundogs  that have GWT after their name have been involved in working gundog tests. These gun dogs have only handled canvas dummies and may have never handled live game.
  • Handle – to be able to direct the dog when at a distance from the handler.
  • Handler – a broad term relating to anyone in charge of a gundog.
  • Hard mouth – a dog that regularly damages game when retrieving. Considered to be a major fault in gundogs.
  • Heel – a command that requires the dog to walk beside its handler (normally on the left hand side) both on and off lead.
  • Hi lost – a verbal command given to a gundog meaning to hunt in a particular area when out
  • on a retrieve.
  • HPR – a term used to describe a continental group of gundogs that: hunt, point and retrieve.
  • Hup – a verbal command to “sit”, most likely to be heard in the spaniel world.
  • Line (taking a line) – the route a dog takes to the game or dummy going out, and on return to the handler, especially when on a runner (injured but not dead game)
  • Long line – a very long training lead.
  • Making good the ground – after the initial flush, finding and producing any birds remaining in the immediate vicinity of the original point. This tends to refer to the pointing breeds.
  • Marked retrieve – a retrieve that that has actually been seen by the gundog.
  • Memory retrieve – a retrieve that has been placed in view of the dog, but a period of time and varying distance has elapsed before the dog is actually sent for the retrieve.
  • Over – a command instructing the dog to jump, or get over, any obstacle such as a stretch of water, a fence, ditch or fallen tree.
  • Pace – the speed at which the dog hunts.
  • Peg dog – a dog that sits next to a peg and its handler, the Gun, during a drive and may retrieve shot game on command at the end of the drive.
  • Pegging – catching live uninjured or unshot game.
  • Pick-up dog/Picker-up – a handler and dog(s) who stand well behind the gun line and systematically retrieve the dead and injured game.
  • Point/pointing – a gundog that points at game to indicate to the Gun/handler where the quarry is, normally the HPR breeds or pointer/setter breeds.
  • Positive Training – a modern approach to gundog training where a food treat or a clicker is used as a way of showing the dog approval of its actions so that it might do it again.
  • Pottering – refers to a dog that hunts without pace or style, or one that lingers on an old scent, leaves it, and then comes back to it.
  • Prickedgame that has been shot and potentially injured, but not killed.
  • Quartering/quarter – the methodical side-to-side hunting pattern that a flushing or pointing dog is trained to follow in order to cover the ground efficiently and thoroughly.
  • Recall – the act of the handler calling the dog to come back to them.
  • Retrieve – the sending of the dog and bringing back to hand either a dummy or game, the complete act.
  • Run – in a field trial or working test, this describes the activities that occur while a competitor is under the control of the judge.
  • Run-off – an additional test or run at a field trial or working test. This is used when a judge has been unable to separate two, or sometimes more, dogs for a first place or an award.
  • Runner – a shot and injured bird or ground game that leaves a scent trail along the ground and requires picking up immediately by a dog so it can be humanely despatched.
  • Running in – when a dog leaves a handler without being sent to retrieve a dummy/bird.
  • Slip lead a lead used by gundog handlers. A slip lead is a combination of both a dog lead and a dog collar normally made of hemp or nylon.
  • Soft mouth – a dog that will pick up and hold game softly, but firmly on the retrieve.
  • Steadiness – a required skill of any gundog, it should sit still when a bird, ground game or even a dummy is flushed or thrown, or when a gun is fired.
  • Sticking on point – When a dog is reluctant to flush pointed game.
  • Style – the tail and body action of a dog when hunting for dummies or game.
  • There – a verbal command given to a gundog to hunt in a particular area when out on a retrieve.
  • To back – to honour the point of another dog on sight, this would normally refer to the pointing breeds.
  • To draw on – To advance steadily on point towards game, this would normally refer to the pointing breeds.
  • To road in – to work out a scent from point to production, this would normally refer to the pointing breeds.
  • Tongue/squeaking – when a dog makes an excited noise such as barking, whining or squeaking while working. This can often occur on the dog’s way out to a retrieve and is considered a fault in gundogs.
  • Whistle command – is the common way that gundogs are controlled by the use of a natural or manufactured whistle.
  • Working test – a competitive event at which gundogs compete. They are normally held in the spring and summer months and use canvas dummies rather than live game.

We searched for some gundog commands beginning X, Y and Z but couldn’t find any. If any readers have any ideas?