Foundation training

Training a young labrador retriever – part 1

Gundog expert Jayne Coley summarises the early training routine that she followed with her own young labrador, Trade.

Puppies can vary so much – some are shy and lacking in confidence, whereas others are boisterous, cheeky and full-on. You have to adapt your training to suit the type of puppy you have. The steps below summarise the training routine that I have followed with my young dog, Trade, who has an easy-going temperament. I began to train him properly in the New Year when he was 9 – 10 months old, though I usually wait until the shooting season is over when I have time to do a little each day on...

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Training a young labrador retriever – part 2

Jayne Coley offers some valuable tips for the shooting enthusiast who is training a young dog.

Training your young dog isn't just about taking him in a field and throwing dummies. It's also about education – teaching him the manners and patience that make for a nice shooting companion. I try to be aware of this at all times. There are various scenarios in which you can work on embedding such manners in your dog, and below are a number of examples based on my own experience. Patience and manners My young lab has to sit and wait when I open his kennel run gate and while...

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A peg dog to be proud of

Author: Ben Randall

Field Editor Ben Randall advises on how best to shape a companion that will enhance rather than hamper a day’s shooting.

Immortalised in written accounts, tongue-in-cheek illustrations and cartoons since the advent of driven shooting, the scene of a ‘peg dog’ running riot mid-drive is typically portrayed as an amusing affair. But when ‘man’s best friend’– supposed to be sat quietly by his master in the line – runs amok on a shoot day, it can be far from a laughing matter. To list what can go wrong, the majority of us game Shots need only sift through memories of past experiences in the shooting...

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Training a gundog to walk to heel

Author: Ben Randall

Field Editor Ben Randall offers his advice on how to train your dog to walk to heel.

Of the various aspects of gundog training, teaching a dog to walk to heel properly is one that many people fail to invest the necessary time in. Indeed, some people appear not to see heelwork as a priority – hunting, stop whistles, hand signals and retrieving are far more exciting, after all. But a dog which doesn’t walk to heel can be a real pain. Constant pulling on the lead aside, a poor grasp of this elementary aspect of gundog training can lead to bigger problems. Whilst on a lead,...

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Beyond Words

Author: Will Pocklington

Understanding body language – how to use it and how to read it – is a key principle of successful gundog training. It is crucial that we are able to read our dogs and give thought to how they will read us.

There are three things anyone with a gundog would do well to remember: 1) dogs are not small, furry humans; 2) the dogs of today are not wolves; and 3) they are not robots, either. Each of these, it would seem, are common misconceptions when it comes to the training of any dog. ‘Point 1’ is of particular relevance to this article; anthropomorphism is as counterintuitive to the successful training of a dog as the word itself is difficult to enunciate. We should never assume a dog’s...

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In the Training Paddock

Talking to three professionals, Gundog Journal answers your questions about training your gundog.

Q: My one-year-old lab walks slightly in front of me when I’m trying to get her to walk to heel. How can I get her to stay behind me? Jayne Coley: It’s a waste of time nagging her by constantly pulling her on the lead. You will have to re-train her by going back to the beginning, teaching her to walk to heel with you. On a slack lead, walk a few steps to start with, very slowly, keeping her focused on you with her head level with your leg. Sit her up. Praise. Repeat. You must concentrate...

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Start as you mean to go on

Author: Ben Randall

Successful puppy training from day dot.

I’m often asked what the key to successful puppy training is, and my answer is always the same: start as you mean to go on, be positive, and be consistent. How many times have we heard the advice ‘just let your puppy be a puppy’? What does this even mean? For many it means letting their young dog get away with all sorts until they are 10 months old, and then struggling in an uphill battle to reverse the bad habits established during that time. For a long time I have been well...

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Introducing your dog to water

Author: Ben Randall

The summer months offer the perfect opportunity to introduce a dog to water, but it’s not something to be rushed into…

Photographers /  EMMA DRABBLE and PETER BOSWELL There’s no doubt that ‘water work’ is one of the more exciting aspects of gundog training – not to mention that swimming is great, low impact exercise for dogs and uses lots of muscles – but, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s an area where many do encounter obstacles and problems. And yet there are certain issues that crop up frequently.   Early days Early in a dog’s life, it pays dividends if they are carefully exposed to...

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The R Word

Author: Ben Randall

If obedience and respect begin to slip in the home environment, cracks will soon begin to show in the training field, says Field Editor Ben Randall.

Photographer  /  CHRISSI RATCLIFFE It’s no secret that very few of us own dogs purely for working purposes; humans enjoy canine company and, for many, dogs are a big part of family life. A question I often ask new clients when they first bring their gundog(s) to me for training, is: ‘On how many days each year does your dog accompany you shooting?’ I ask them this for no other reason than to emphasise that time in the field, shooting, actually accounts for a small fraction of a...

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A guide to online gundog training

Author: Victoria Rose

Virtual gundog training is never going to replace the real deal, but for the hundreds of novices out there having an online support network, even if just for the short term, is vital. Victoria Rose explores what’s on offer in these challenging times.

With Corona Virus sending shockwaves through the world, causing thousands of deaths, economic disaster and unprecedented social upheaval, those of us who are passionate about training gundogs are left with an extra headache; how to maintain standards in these tough times? Fortunately for me and the hundreds of other novice handlers out there, the resilience of professional gundog trainers across the country has been remarkable. Determined not to let clients down, many have dived head-first...

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Teamwork and Delivery

Gundog Journal discusses how to improve teamwork and delivery when beating.

Photographer / DANNY MOORE Q.  My dog has always had a poor delivery. He doesn’t drop the bird (or dummy) but he puts his head right down when he brings anything to me. How can I cure it? Jayne Coley: A good delivery to hand is so important and it should be encouraged right from the beginning when you first acquire your puppy. Notice I say delivery, not retrieving. A good delivery should be perfected first. When choosing a working labrador puppy, it’s common practice to throw a...

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Getting the Basics Right

Gundog Journal answers your questions about basic gundog training.

Q: After three months of daily training my dog walks perfectly on the lead in the field where the training takes place but forgets it all when walking anywhere else. I can stop and say heel and she moves back into position, but as soon as we move on she is pulling again. What am I doing wrong? Jayne Coley: You say, dog and not puppy, which suggests you began to concentrate on heelwork when she was fully grown? I think it’s vital to teach a puppy to walk to heel from an early age. I...

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Does a Ferrari suit a learner?

Author: Ben Randall

Sometimes the wrong dog ends up with the wrong owner and Field Editor Ben Randall has some words of wisdom on how to avoid this happening.

Does every dog suit every owner? I often encounter two frustrating scenarios: an inexperienced handler trying to train a highly bred Ferrari and secondly, a competent handler trying to train an unsuitable dog for competition. Trainers like me are forever unpicking mismatches. When shopping for a gundog it is imperative you honestly assess your lifestyle and the desired outcome of the union, because it can save a lot of wasted time and heartache for both sides further down the line....

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