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How can we tell a Gun that his dog isn’t welcome at our shoot?

A badly behaved dog is spoiling the day

gundog in crate in car

Never leave a gundog unattended in a vehicle - thieves may be tracking your every movement

Q: How do I ask one of our Guns, who has been a member of our syndicate for the past 10 years, not to bring his dog, without upsetting him? His dog barks, whines, starts fights, pinches food at lunch and is universally disliked. I know that he will take it personally if I ask him not to bring it, but it has got steadily worse, and the rest of the Guns are becoming increasingly fed up.

Badly behaved gundog

A: Speaking to him when he is alone, or calling him when he is at home to explain, will be far better than trying to talk to him about it on a shoot day, when others are in earshot. Approach the issue head-on and be polite, but stick to your guns. If he is apologetic, you could allow him to bring the dog on a lead. If he is unwilling to accept responsibility for the way it behaves, you are going to have to be blunt. But that’s far better than having him and his dog upsetting the other members.

How do I stop my gundogs squabbling?

Q: One of my three gundogs is very possessive and is so eager to please that when I throw a ball she will either steal it or stop the other two dogs from retrieving it, leading to squabbling. How can I prevent this?

A: This is a habit that should be nipped in the bud straight away because it can lead to gundogs fighting over birds in the shooting field.

This could also scare the other gundogs in two ways.

Firstly, should a dominant and possessive, badly behaved gundog keep stealing the reward from another gundog it could cause the other less dominant gundogs to refuse to retrieve altogether.

And secondly, which is even worse, if a gundog feels threatened by another gun dog which steals its retrieves it could start gripping things much tighter and this can be the start of a gundog becoming hard-mouthed.

It is very important that you do not spoil this young gundog’s urge to please and you must not reprimand her for stealing the ball from the other two.

The simple solution is not to do any retrieving exercises when the other gundogs are around. All retrieving must be taught separately at the beginning.

Group play training is good for young gundogs socially up to an age of five to six months.

However, when formal training starts you should concentrate on one gundog at a time this way you get the best results.