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 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 imagine you have always held out your hand to take the things she has brought back to you and you have probably done this from a standing position. But as youngsters develop they can sometimes start to perceive this ‘out reach’ of the hand as a sort of barrier – literally a signal that keeps the pups at arm’s length from the handler.
When playing with very young pups:
Sit down on the floor, particularly if there’s the likelihood a pup will bring something back in a playful retrieve.
Keep your legs apart, open your arms and create a funnel into which the pup can get close to you.
You can even let a young pup put its front feet on your chest while still holding the dummy.
Give lots of vocal praise and although you shouldn’t rush to take the dummy from the pup, make sure you take it before the pup decides to drop it of its own accord – something that becomes instinctive with each pup. Some hold on forever, others less so.
As the pup moves on to canvas dummies this method encourages it to bring the retrieve into ‘your space’. It avoids pups becoming reluctant to enter your space.
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.