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Gundog training: Bonding with handler

I recently decided to go into unknown territory and buy a part-trained spaniel from a well-known trainer and breeder. On the day of the gundog training demonstration the young dog never put a foot wrong for the handler. He was very much under control, hunting with a tight pattern and with lots of eye contact. My mind was made up and so the sale went ahead. I have had this young spaniel at home for three months and unfortunately don’t feel any bond has taken place – he never seems to give me any eye contact. I don’t want to let him or the trainer down and I feel like I am not moving forward in his gundog training programme; in fact I feel we have gone backwards. What do you advise?

A youngster at one with his handler during gundog training will be an asset to any shoot day.

Mark Whitehouse says: Once a trained or part-trained dog is settled at home – let’s say in three weeks to a month – I would make sure you have booked at least six gundog training sessions back with the trainer. This will iron out any mistakes you could be making and also prevent any confusion between dog and new handler. Transferring from breeder/trainer to new handler takes time and patience, and if not corrected quickly can sometimes go wrong and become very frustrating for both dog and handler.

You should always remember that part-trained means part-trained. Don’t expect too much too soon – to get a dog to even a part-trained standard would have taken several months of consistent gundog training.

When your canine companion was first demonstrated he impressed you. This tells me that you, as a handler, need some gundog training yourself to bring you up to speed. This is why I insist all my sales of trained or part-trained dogs include six one-to-one lessons to ensure all is going well. These sessions maximise the possibility that the new partnership moves forward at the right pace.

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