Why won’t my gundog behave?
He is by a well-known field trial champion and has lots of ability.
We have a chicken pen in the garden and he is totally obsessed by it.
I am convinced he would attack the chickens if he could get at them and this doesn’t bode well for a shooting gun dog.
How can I get over this problem?
JEREMY HUNTS SAYS: Keeping chickens has become popular but for many gun dogs – where poultry are kept in the garden – they are the ultimate temptation.
That’s not to say it’s the same for all gun dogs.
I keep chickens and our gun dogs are taught to leave them alone.
It’s a lesson some initially find more difficult to learn than others but we do eventually achieve a truce between gun dogs and chickens.
So what do you do in your situation?
You mustn’t take any risks and never give your young gun dog the chance to get hold of one of your birds or chase them.
If he is given the opportunity to run up and down the side of their pen, which I assume is what happens, you must stop him doing that immediately.
Chasing up and down the wire will make matters worse and familiarity will not cure this problem.
You must make sure he knows that such behaviour is not acceptable.
Try putting him on a lead and doing some serious heelwork close to the chicken pen so that he gets his mind re-focused.
Any hint that he is more interested in the hens than in you must be firmly dealt with.
The aim here is to imprint on him that life goes on in a disciplined fashion despite their presence.
They must not be seen as an excuse for uncontrolled behaviour.
If he is like this with a few chickens he is likely to adopt the same attitude to other moving feathery or furry game, so I would strongly advise you to get him into a rabbit and poultry pen at a gun dog trainer’s kennels as soon as possible.
You can usually hire a pen on an hourly rate for your own use but in your case I would request assistance from the trainer so that he can advise you on how best to deal with your gun dog’s issues.
In the pen there will probably be a variety of poultry and probably some rabbits.
Your gun dog must be kept on a lead in the pen as the situation will probably blow his mind to start with.
But with professional help, and with a sustained approach to his attitude to your chickens at home, I am sure you will make progress.
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