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When should I begin gundog training for water work?

My job has now taken me south, and there is a lake and a river on my new shoot. I have quickly discovered that my Labrador and two spaniels are not keen on water, and I have a brace of Lab puppies coming in the spring.

How and when should I teach them about water work?

Paul Rawlings
Introducing puppies to water can begin at an early age. In fact, this is the best way to ensure your two puppies will not be afraid or reluctant to enter it later on.

Involve play into the lessons while using whatever container is available for holding water ? a child?s paddling pool is ideal.

Start out with it completely dry and teach the puppies to jump in and out using food or perhaps a toy to pick up and play with.

Once they are readily jumping in, then add an inch of tepid water and continue the play as before.

Over several days, the depth of the water can be slowly increased so that they become accustomed to jumping in and getting very wet to get their reward.

Once they are showing complete confidence in the paddling pool, you need to have access to a larger container or a pond with gently sloping sides so that the puppies can enter and then gently get into deep enough water to float and swim.

By the time they are ready for formal obedience training, they will be so confident in water that retrieving from it will never be a cause for concern again.