teach a puppy to sit

How to teach a puppy to sit

Q: I cannot get my cocker spaniel puppy to sit properly to the “sit” command; she just keeps wagging her tail and lifting up her bottom.  She is four months old now and this issue is preventing me from moving on with her training. She will not stay either when…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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…

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…

Labradors in pickup

The 12 commandments of choosing gundog training lessons

First, you should be made to feel welcome. I would expect the trainer to be an experienced spaniel handler with evidence of success in competition, 
or perhaps a field trial judge. The fee should reflect the level of facilities and numbers in the class. One-to-one lessons cost more but with…

teach a puppy to sit

What to expect with a new spaniel puppy

With the gameshooting season over and spring now upon us, I am sure there are many newcomers to our sport thinking about buying and training their first spaniel through the close season. Rearing and training your own spaniel puppy, and then taking it shooting, can be a very enjoyable and…

Spaniel entering heavy cover

Help! My gundog won’t go into heavy cover

Graham Watkins, Sporting Gun’s gundog guru offers a solution The causes First of all, this is a problem that can be overcome but it needs to be taken slowly and carefully because you don’t want to totally put the dog off entering cover. You haven’t mentioned whether you have a springer or a cocker spaniel and…

gundog steals

Help! My gundog steals others’ birds

Q: I thought I was doing a brilliant job on my woodland shoot where I pick-up. I always seemed to have more birds than all the others after each drive, but I did not realise my dog was pinching most of them off other dogs or stealing from the gamecart…

spaniel working cover

Teaching a spaniel to work cover

A: The more naturally you introduce her to working different types of cover, the better. Throwing a dummy into cover can make the process confrontational. If she is caused any pain by the entry, this could seriously affect her progress and her desire to retrieve. Avoid nettles, thistles, gorse and other such prickly covers until she is more experienced.…

Trained gundog

My dog ignores me out shooting

A: The dog may be trained to a very high standard but it is not mechanical and you, the handler, must form a strong bond with it and be trained how to handle your dog using commands delivered in a way in which the dog is familiar. Dog-to-human communication is not simple and you need to be able…

gundog ready for the beating line

Get your gundog ready for the beating line

People often ask: “How old should my dog be before taking it into the beating line?” The truth is there is no straight answer — so much depends on the dog and the trainer’s ability. But the question every trainer should be asking themselves is: “Is my dog ready to go beating?” Of all the participants on a shoot,…


Dogs in the beating line need to be the best of all

If you were to look at the hierarchy of gundogs in the shooting field, you would more than likely consider dogs that work in the beating line at the bottom of list. But, in fact, they probably need to be the best trained of all the gun dogs in the field and they certainly work the hardest. All…

Gundogs out in the field

My gundog embarrasses me in front of other Guns

A: You probably allowed him to hunt quite freely on his first big day as he was so well behaved, but hunting game is far more exciting than walking at heel. He got to enjoy meeting other beaters, who probably greeted him in a friendly way. Dogs quickly learn to do things when they gain pleasure from…