Retriever on shoot

Retriever makes a noise

Q: My three-year-old flatcoated retriever has been a joy to train, is a really keen retriever and has been a good worker out on the shoot for the past two seasons, but she has just started making the faintest of noises in the back of her throat just before I…

Working gundog

How Camrosa can treat spaniels with skin problems

FOLLOWING A RECENT column when I wrote about problems with working spaniels’ ears, I had a charming letter from Edwina Le May, founder and director of the company that markets Camrosa Ointment. It is aimed specifically at treating animals with skin problems, especially those caused by mites. Though I was aware of Camrosa, I’d never tried it, but when I mentioned…

springer spaniel

How gundogs scent

A gundog's sense of smell is one of its most valuable tools, but to take full advantage of this capability, it is important to understand how scent works.

English bulldogs are trendy dogs

Trendy dogs are not always the most healthy

I am a diligent reader of dog stories, 
but one I missed earlier this year 
was a regional map of dog-breed popularity, based on Kennel Club registrations in 2016. As with so many statistics, the results are fascinating but mustn’t be taken too seriously. I wouldn’t mind betting that cockerpoos…

gundog with gunslips

Gundog unreliable at the peg?

Q: I am getting my first Labrador puppy soon, which besides being a family pet, will be my shooting dog in the future hopefully. I say hopefully as this will be the first one I have trained myself. I used to borrow my father’s dog to take out driven shooting…

Sealyham terrier

Ratting with a Sealyham Terrier

The phone rang, “Hello Nick, it’s Harry Parsons, what you doing next Tuesday?” A quick check of the diary and it looked all clear. “Fancy coming out for a day’s ratting?” As much as I hate rats, especially their scaly tails, I do enjoy a day’s ratting with the Working…

springer spaniel retrieving

Why you should beware of early neutering

David Tomlinson recently wrote about the physical downsides of early neutering for dogs of either gender, but the behavioural effects are less well known. Many people who experience problems with their dogs, especially male dogs, will be on the receiving end of assurances from all and sundry that any issues…

working cocker spaniel puppy

How to choose a cocker spaniel

Q: I have owned English springers for many years but after seeing a cocker trial I am tempted to change breeds to cocker spaniels. First I would like some advice or information on the differences in training. Eventually 
I would like to take part in competitions if I can. A:…

Ratting terrier

Ratting with terriers

I’ve been to a meet or two 
in my time: beagle packs on village greens; minkhounds 
on crumbling stone bridges that look as old as the river which winds beneath them; and foxhounds in the courtyards of austere country houses. But this was a little different. Bleary eyed, smelly, and…

young springer spaniel gundog

Teaching a gundog to ignore distractions

Step 1: Start with the basics When moving on to a new exercise it is always worth going back a step or two 
and just reinforcing some earlier lessons. With Dolly, I took her back to some very basic steadiness lessons where I sat her 
up on a lawn and…

Spaniel or Labrador

Should I choose a spaniel or a Labrador?

I go rabbit and pigeon shooting, and now intend to get a gundog. I am not sure which breed to go for. A friend says Labradors are born half-trained and spaniels die half-trained! I ideally want a dog to flush game and to retrieve it. Any advice, please?

springer spaniels

Help! My young springer ‘freezes’ on a shoot

Q: I have a problem which seems difficult to solve. My young springer has just turned two and started going shooting in January, which was fine, she hunted well. 
We just went out with a couple 
of friends to shoot the odd cock pheasant and rabbit. I took her to…

Clumber spaniels

Remembering an extraordinary Clumber spaniel

Losing a dog always hurts. When I wrote about the death of my springer, Fleur, last year at the age of 15, it clearly struck a chord with readers, as several wrote to me. One of them was Alan Taylor, whom I’d met 10 years ago. Alan is one of…

glaucoma in dogs

Why it’s crucial to spot signs of glaucoma in dogs

What is glaucoma? Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the eyeball becomes higher than normal, which can damage the eye’s internal structure. The retina and optic nerve are particularly sensitive. Vet Neil McIntosh of Abbey Veterinary Group advises: “Glaucoma is not a specific diagnosis but a general term for increased…

walk at heel training

Are these the Eton and Harrow of gundog schools?

What could be more fun for a gundog puppy than to spend time with companions of the same age, with the same interests and energy? You have a few options. You can send your youngster off to canine boarding school for four to six months, where you’ll wave goodbye to…

gundog training

How to teach spaniels to head in the right direction

  Some people question whether you need to teach a gundog to go left and right; unless you just go beating it can be a useful skill to teach spaniels (and other gundogs). If you plan to shoot over your dog or want it to pick-up, there will be times when being able to re-direct it…

Black Labrador puppy

When your gundog won’t retrieve

“I recently got my first gundog puppy and I started training her straight away. To start with she would go and pick up a tennis ball, but now she just sits or lays down with it and refuses to bring it back to me. Is there anything I can do…

German shorthaired pointer

The German shorthaired pointer

The very first time I saw a German shorthaired pointer (GSP) working was about 25 years ago. I had been invited to photograph an HPR (hunt, point, retrieve) spring pointing test on the Waddesdon Manor Estate in Buckinghamshire, and the first dog to run was a white and liver-ticked dog called Swifthouse Basil. I was truly impressed by…

Elbow dysplasia in gundogs

Elbow dysplasia in gundogs

Q: I have just retired my Labrador after he went lame with elbow dysplasia (ED). I want to get another dog and was planning on buying 
a puppy from a breeder who tests her dogs and only breeds from those clear of ED. However, I was told 
I could still…

lurcher with rabbit

The lurcher – a designer cross-breed dog

A gamekeeper once said to me that a lurcher was “any calibre of gun you require”. The lean, light “silent assassin” is a most versatile field dog and probably the oldest known designer cross-breed. There are variations to suit each type of land and each intended task, but all of…