How to start training an HPR breed
Jeremy Hunt advises a reader who has just taken on a hunt, point and retrieve breed.
Q: I have taken on an eight-month-old German shorthaired pointer (GSP) bitch from a couple who could no longer keep her. She has a good working pedigree but has been brought up as a pet. As a rough shooter I have always had labradors and have been wondering if I have done a wise thing taking on a hunt, point and retrieve (HPR) breed. I would be interested in your thoughts on training an HPR breed. (Read which is the best HPR breed?)
Training an HPR breed
The GSP has been the most numerous HPR in the UK for a good few years now, so you will see plenty of them around. But what are they like to train? (Read this indepth profile of German shorthaired pointers.)
Remember an HPR, a GSP has a brain that’s very different from a purely retrieving breed.
If the bitch has a good working pedigree and has been well brought up, even though she has been in a pet home so far, she should still be a relatively clean slate for you to start working with. She has the breeding to become a good working dog for you but she will be very different compared with a Labrador, for example. (You might find it useful to read can a working gundog also be a family pet?) They are versatile and suitable for both land and water work.
I am a fan of German shorthaired pointers (GSP) and only recently saw a mature bitch working at a peg and doing a great job. It was that owner’s first GSP but he said he would certainly have another.
Take specialist advice
You should forget a lot of what you have based your labrador training on and take some specialist advice from experienced GSP people. They do say that GSPs have an independent streak and can take time to mature, so you will have to be patient.
Contact the German Shorthaired Pointer Club, which has a network of regional branches. The advisers there should be able to give you all the help and advice you need to get your training off to a good start.
As with all young gundogs of any breed, it’s how you deal with them in the early stages of training that influences what you achieve later, so take advice as soon as you can rather than muddle through and make mistakes that may be difficult to put right.
This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.