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Should I enter my gun dog in working tests before field trials?

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy has been breeding labradors for over 25 years. He is a member of the Kennel Club and lives in Lancashire and is well known as a writer on country sports and rural issues.

Mark Whitehouse
Mark is an ‘A’ panel Kennel Club judge for spaniels and has represented England six times in international gundog events. He trains and breeds labradors and spaniels at the Cheweky Gundog Kennels in Yorkshire.


I think this would be a great idea and will give both of you an opportunity to discover your strengths and weaknesses before you enter any field trials. Working tests provide a good environment for young dogs to watch, listen and learn.

Most spaniel working tests simulate a typical rough shooting day/field trial environment, omitting the flushing and shooting of live game and rabbits. The day usually starts by having a hunt up in pairs and blank shots are fired using a starting pistol. The level of the test will depend on the distance and difficulties of the retrieves and they are usually split into novice and open standards.

The majority of working tests tend to use canvas dummies for their retrieves. However, some working tests use cold game, for example, rabbits and pigeons that have been defrosted the previous day and after constantly being used can become very tacky for a young dog.

All working tests provide good training for young dogs and it gives you an opportunity to compare your dog’s ability against others competing. It also gives you a chance to receive feedback from the judges on how your dog has performed and take on board any suggestions for improvement. This stands you in good stead for the trialing season.

If you have have any gundog related questions/queries then please send them in to:
Gundog Questions, Shooting Gazette, PO Box 225, Stamford, Lincolnshire, PE9 2HS.