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When gundog training, how do I teach ‘get back’?

Gundog training expert
The ‘get back’ is one of the most important and useful commands used to push gun dogs back into an area in which to hunt for shot game.

I usually start training for this in a situation that will help and not hinder the gun dog so I use a fence or wall on one side to keep the gun dog going straight when I actually send it back for a retrieve.

I start by walking along the boundary then stopping, turning and throwing a seen retrieve.

I then turn the gun dog and walk on a few more paces. Stop, get the gun dog to sit facing me and send it back for the retrieve using the command ‘get back’.

As the gun dog leaves me I repeat the words ‘get back’ several times as it heads towards the dummy.

Once the gun dog is confident that there is always a dummy to be found I move on with the same training format but one that does not let the gun dog see the dummy being thrown.

If the gun dog is confident that you are sending it back for something, it should leave you with gusto, although I still repeat the words ‘get back’ several times.

Assuming the gun dog is steady, you can then proceed to a situation (also against a fence or wall) where the gun dog can be made to sit facing you and a dummy can be thrown over its head – taking care not to throw it so low that the  gun dog ducks but not too far behind either.

Raising the right hand and with the required ‘flicking gesture’ of the palm and outstretched fingers, give the command ‘get back’.

Hopefully the gun dog will turn to retrieve the dummy.

Sometimes I have found that gun dogs cansit rooted to the spot; if that happens I usually take a step forward towards the gun dog and, giving further encouragement, it usually serves to ‘push’ it into turning and undertaking the retrieve.

I always repeat the ‘get back’ command during the run out.

Only when you are happy that the gun dog is clear about exactly what the command means should you progress to more distant control.

You should then be able to move a good distance from your gun dog, throw the dummy behind it and send it on the ‘get back’ command.