cocker spaniel puppy

How to teach a spaniel puppy to retrieve

Spaniels have been bred for generations to hunt out game from stick piles, patches of bramble and thick bracken banks, and a well-bred puppy should be pre-programmed to get its nose down. However, if you do too much early hunt training with a young spaniel this can become the most…

English spaniels

Is your gundog a fussy eater?

One of the remarkable things about dogs is that they will apparently happily eat the same thing every day, every week, throughout the year. A skinny spaniel stayed with us recently while its owners were away on holiday. The dog was delivered with its bed, food bowl and a big sack of so-called complete food. “She loves…

Working gundog

How Camrosa can treat spaniels with skin problems

FOLLOWING A RECENT column when I wrote about problems with working spaniels’ ears, I had a charming letter from Edwina Le May, founder and director of the company that markets Camrosa Ointment. It is aimed specifically at treating animals with skin problems, especially those caused by mites. Though I was aware of Camrosa, I’d never tried it, but when I mentioned…

Spaniel or Labrador

Should I choose a spaniel or a Labrador?

I go rabbit and pigeon shooting, and now intend to get a gundog. I am not sure which breed to go for. A friend says Labradors are born half-trained and spaniels die half-trained! I ideally want a dog to flush game and to retrieve it. Any advice, please?

Labradors and spaniels

There are big differences between Labradors and spaniels …

As the shooting season draws to a close it is time for us to reflect on what has gone well with our gundogs, but more importantly what has gone wrong and will need working on during the spring and summer months. For a few of us the search for a new shooting companion will start in earnest and the…

Working sprocker spaniel

A day in the life of a working sprocker

Every Monday starts full of excitement and anticipation. I watch as the curtains are opened, praying for good weather. Sometimes we’re blessed, sometimes we’re not. Today fog fills the valley and as we travel out of the village the mist slowly disappears. Slowly the sun’s rays break through and by…

Gundog ears

Gundog ears badly designed

All our gundog breeds have floppy ears though, of course, some are a great deal floppier than others. Labrador ears may turn downwards, but they are functional and only covered in short hair, which might explain why ears are one of the areas of least concern with the breed (don’t mention hips or elbows). It is the…

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…

Frog dog posture

Frog dog posture – readers report back

I recently wrote about dogs that stretch out with their hind legs behind them – in the “frog dog” pose. Dave Seaborn from Abenhall Gundogs was one of several people who suggested dogs do this to chill out. Stretching out on a hard surface such as concrete after exercise “allows them to cool off as quickly as…

Sprocker spaniels

Sprocker spaniel versus cocker spaniel

It’s a sad fact that in virtually every competitive sport there are those prepared to try to win or fix a result by unfair or unsporting means. Sometimes it’s for financial gain or it may be for personal glory, but it’s all about cheating. You don’t have to look far to find examples in cricket, cycling, athletics, even pigeon racing.…

Grouse counts

Grouse counts with cocker and springer spaniels

There I was stretched out on a sun-kissed beach drinking cold rum and cokes when all of a sudden I could hear a high pitched shrieking – it was my alarm. As I slowly opened my eyes I realised it was 4.30am and I was “back up north” to help out on a couple of days’ grouse counting.…

Barrie Hughes

Meet devotee of springer spaniels, Barrie Hughes

Spaniel ownership can be both enormously satisfying and extremely frustrating. I’ve survived 33 years of it, but am always full of admiration for those who have managed longer. So when I met Barrie Hughes and heard that he had owned working springers for exactly 50 years, I wanted to learn more. I…

water retrieves

How to introduce a puppy to water retrieves

With the arrival of warmer weather, it has been a good opportunity to introduce the young spaniels to a bit of water work and introduce water retrieves. Though the puppies are the same age, it is surprising how different they dealt with this new aspect of their training. Logan, the black-and-white…

Cocker spaniel in field

12 questions about spaniels answered

How can I improve my spaniel’s picking up skills? The gundogs in question are 10-month-old litter brothers – one is a good hunter, the other bad at retrieving. What can be done about it? Shouldn’t working spaniels have docked tails? A reader is worried about two young spaniels with tails that are…

Heel work and quartering

How to improve heel work and quartering

During the past month Remy, the Labrador puppy, has been coming along really well with his lead work, and over the past week or so I have gently started to introduce some more formal heel work but this has not been without its challenges. To encourage the little dog to…