She was going to be the successor to my older lab on shoot day.

I also hoped to enter her into tests or field trials if she was good enough.

She was bred by a successful field trial winning sire so I thought I was taking on a dog with an in-built ability that would make up for my inexperience.

Sadly she was too clever for me. I want to buy another bitch pup, so how can I avoid making the same mistake again?

The best field trial gun dogs are the result of a vast amount of work and training.

A great deal of that is due to the expertise of the handler in knowing how to bring out the very best in individual gun dogs.

Every gun dog is different in terms of its ability to learn and progress through its training.

The rate of progress and how the problems that are inevitably encountered are overcome is very much down to the handler.

When a pup is chosen from a litter, provided all are showing the same degree of boldness and natural inquisitiveness, it’s almost impossible to predict the level of latent intelligence, how the pup you choose will respond to you, your own character and methods of training.

Don’t be misguided into thinking that all the top field trial winning dogs are out-right successes.

Anyone involved in breeding working labradors knows that there are huge variances within every litter in terms of ability.

A lot of gun dogs just don’t make the grade for work at field trial level.

It may well have been that you encountered problems with your youngster that could have been overcome by a more experienced handler but the main issue now is to try and help you find the right sort of bitch as a replacement.

If you are determined to have a pup I would advise you to try and find out as much as you can about its sire and the dam in terms of their working ability, achievements and temperament.

Discuss your needs with the owners of the well known field trial kennels which, in turn, may lead you to ordering a pup well in advance of its arrival.

This should help you secure the type of pup best suited to you.

Taking a gamble on a pup without research may again have an unsatisfactory outcome.

You will hear people talk about gun dogs being hard going, referring to gun dogs being hard headed and too determined in their work to always listen to their handler.

Likewise you will hear others talk of gun dogs being sensitive, meaning a gun dog needs more encouragement rather than chastisement to achieve the best results.

Bearing in mind the amount of time you have to devote to your training and your own experience, plus the information about the parents and other immediate relatives in its pedigree, you should hopefully be able to find a pup that suits.

Alternatively you could consider a youngster, say six-months old, that is just starting to show what it’s going to be like to train in terms of its temperament.

Help should be offered by those you contact as breeders always prefer potential buyers to end up with a success on their hands.