Fly-fishing

How to tie fishing flies with dog hair

The Roman author and teacher Claudius Aelianus is credited with being the first to record the use of artificial flies in angling. Writing towards the end of the second century, he described the practices of Macedonian anglers on the Astraeus River comprehensively: “They have planned a snare for the fish,…

gundog training for water work

How to train your gundog for water work

Gundog training for water work needs to be done carefully and with thought; it is all too easy to end up with problems such as dropping retrieves, shaking and even refusal to enter water. It is a matter of choice whether you train your dog to retrieve from water, but…

springer spaniel puppy

My spaniel has horrible waxy ears. What can I do about it?

Q: My spaniel has horrible waxy ears. No amount of cleaning seems to make a difference. Any suggestions? I’m worried they may lead to more spaniel ear problems. A: Neil says: Yes, stop what you are doing. You are probably making the situation worse. We need to go back to…

dog in sun

How to keep gundogs cool in hot weather

Q: With a young dog in training this summer, have you some advice on the best ways to keep dogs cool in hot weather? A: The advice on how to keep dogs cool in hot weather is 
so important. Here’s what to do. Keep dogs cool by providing a cool…

play-training gundog puppies

Are tennis balls dangerous to dogs?

Q: My dog trainer has advised me to use tennis balls to train my Labrador to hunt and retrieve but I’ve heard there are risks from balls. Are tennis balls dangerous to dogs? What are your thoughts on this issue? Tennis ball risks When dogs play with balls there is the…

English springer spaniel

The history of spaniels

If you want to wind up your cocker spaniel-owning friends, just tell them that their dogs are springers. They may argue otherwise but, technically, it’s true. History of the spaniel All spaniels are springers, as the term was originally used to separate those dogs that set game (setters) from those…

protecting your dog's ears from grass seeds

How can I protect my dog’s ears from grass seeds?

Grass seeds can easily become lodged in a dog’s ears or paws. Grass seeds are a particular problem for spaniels As the hay fever season fades away, 
so the grass-seed season takes over. The first affects me (though not as much as it used to), while the second is a…

beware over-exercising a puppy

The risks of over-exercising a puppy

Q: We have recently acquired a new puppy. Both parents were hip and elbow tested and found to be clear and I’ve been told by the breeder to be careful about over-exercising a puppy while he is young because it could damage his joints. 
I want to start training this…

working sheepdog

How much do trained dogs cost?

Dogs are amazing creatures and some are worth a lot of money. We’ve been reading about the high prices puppies have reached during the COVID lockdown as everyone decides they want a canine companion. A border collie from Wales has just become the world’s most expensive sheepdog after being sold…

Golden retriever

Why aren’t golden retrievers more popular in the field?

You’ll see plenty of Labradors in the field but not so many golden retrievers. Which is rather illogical because a golden retriever that has been well-trained is definitely the equal of a Labrador. Golden retrievers are handsome, intelligent and easy to handle. So it’s a mystery. A relatively new breed…

spaniel in long grass

How to get ticks off your dog and keep them off

A welcome consequence of the recent drought has been an absence of ticks. I have yet to find any ticks on dogs of mine this year. Ticks like nothing better than to lurk in wet, rank grass and they avoid dry areas because of the risk of dehydration. So from…

dog scavenging

How can I treat my gundog’s diarrhoea? What causes it?

Q: “Can you explain to me why my gundog gets a stomach upset? What causes diarrhoea in dogs and how can I stop my gundog getting it? Diarrhoea in dogs – the symptoms and the causes Diarrhoea is defined as increased water content of faeces, leading to changes in frequency…

English springer spaniel

Why is the springer spaniel becoming less popular?

In the 1980s I belonged to a shooting syndicate with one simple rule: every member had to own a working gundog. It was a walk-one, stand-one shoot, so it was a practical ruling. There was no suggestion as to what sort of dog it had to be, but every member…

gundog beds Barka Parka

Let sleeping gundogs lie in comfort

A favourite subject for debate in the gundog world is whether working dogs should be kennelled or kept in the house. I don’t think dogs mind much either way, as it depends on what they get used to. I know of dogs that spend the day indoors but at 11pm…