The real thing

Keeping older dogs listening

Author: Fieldfare

For an older dog to continue to pay attention and act on our commands, we must continue to make time for them, too.

 “You’ll never have a good young’un as long as you have your good old’un”, George Meldrum used to say. George was twice winner of the Retriever Championship and father of Bill who won it in 1963 handling his father’s FTCh Glenfarg Skid. He had a point. After all, we love our older dogs which have grown into our ways and probably developed a fair few endearing ones of their own. Provided we think of them as ‘older’ rather than ‘old’ there’s no reason why our...

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Five common gundog training mistakes – Part 1

Author: Ben Randall

Highlighting the five most common gundog training mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Too much freedom Too much freedom before you have established basic control (recall, sit and stay) can result in a dog that is inclined to hunt without you, and do as it pleases. Example: Many owners exercise their dogs by walking in straight lines and allowing the dog to run on in front. If a gundog is allowed to do this often, it will think that it has to entertain itself every time it is let off the lead – i.e. pick up a scent and pursue it, with no regard for any command from...

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Five common gundog training mistakes – Part 2

Author: Ben Randall

Five more common gundog training mistakes and how we should aim to avoid them.

1. Loud and excessive handling Dogs have very good hearing – you don’t need to shout. Quiet, calm commands, that are not repeated or over-used, are often a sign of a good handler. Example: Dogs listen not only to words but also tone and volume when you give a command. If the dog is used to being told loudly to ‘sit’ when just a yard away from you – voice or whistle – it will expect the same volume and tone of command when it is 30 yards away. Loud commands in the training...

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Steadiness training

It is in a dog's nature to push the boundaries every now and then, says Fieldfare. So it's necessary to ensure that their steadiness is maintained.

(Photo credit: Ben Cole) Think of it as being like a length of elastic that gets stretched and stretched, often to breaking point, by the excitements of the season. However good the link between dog and handler - and there is no more critical element than steadiness - work in the field puts it under strain. And even the most trustworthy dogs can come to feel that they know best when a bird has been hit: and once they start managing themselves you no longer have an agreeable shooting...

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Leave the gun at home

How to avoid heartbreak when introducing your dog to the shooting field.

You may think you have fully trained your gundog. In fact you know that it is the best dog you have ever owned. Now comes the test – your first day's shooting together. Many a game Shot will take his/her dog out when it is sill far too young, too inexperienced and without sufficient (or any!) picking up experience. These handlers suffer from two problems. Firstly, they believe that once a dog is properly trained it will do no wrong. To the contrary, only continued and consistent...

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Picking-up on a grouse moor

Author: Jayne Coley

Expert advice for those who will be working a dog on the moors for the first time this season.

I’m not sure whether it’s because I live down in Gloucestershire, but I think there is something rather special about being up on a grouse moor with my dogs. Maybe it’s the solitude and the timeless scenery, which is an ever-changing picture according to the weather. Or perhaps it is because it’s so very different to what I am used to – picking-up on pheasant shoots in the Cotswolds where most of the day my dogs are sweeping-up in woodland and often working out of my sight....

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How to impress field trial judges

The difference between silverware and an early finish in a field trial can be in the detail, says Field Editor Ben Randall, who highlights some of the key things field trial judges look for.

Field trials are gundog competitions run to assess the work of gundogs in the shooting field, with the dogs judged on how they deal with both live and unhandled shot game. There are numerous criteria against which field trial judges will assess competing dogs in both retriever and spaniel trials. Although the weight given to individual criteria will naturally differ between the two types of trial, I will try to provide a broad overview of both the credit points and faults that I have...

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The seven sins of gundog training

It’s rare to make it through the shooting season without encountering at least a few poorly behaved gundogs, but some bad habits crop up more than others. Field Editor Ben Randall considers the most common issues and how to prevent or resolve them.

1. Whining and making noise This is a common issue, and one that can be very frustrating for both the dog’s handler and fellow Guns, pickers-up, beaters and keepers. Dogs that whine on the peg can be distracting and take away from the experience somewhat. The same goes for those that bark and whine when stood behind the Guns picking-up, or when in the dog-box in the car. Prevention: Generally, dogs whine when they are desperate to get to something; the problem stems from impatience....

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Picking up, a Gun's view

Author: Nigel Birt-Llewellin

Poor picking-up practice can be the difference between a good, a bad and an ugly day’s shooting, says Nigel Birt-Llewellin.

On October 25, 2012, I was knocked over by a large yellow labrador at a commercial shoot in Kent. The dog had been sent to retrieve a redleg partridge that was lying, stone dead, on its back some 40 yards in front of me. The bird was the first kill of the day, flying right to left and parallel to the Guns. The dog took my left knee at a full gallop as I was addressing an oncoming covey. I managed to go down on my back, only just keeping control of the gun. The dog barged by my spaniel as it...

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How to prepare your dog for the partridge season

Author: Allie Hogsbjerg

Whether it's you and your dog's first day in the field or you are a picking-up veteran, here's five ways to prepare for the partridge season.

(Photographs: Harry Lessman) 1. Fitness!  If you don’t prepare your athlete, don’t expect them to be able to perform to their best. Make sure you have your dog fit enough to cope with what you will be asking of them. Retrieving runners is short burst of fast activity, so make sure you give your dogs plenty of speed work for short durations and see how they improve their recovery time between retrieves. Working them on hills will also help this process. Likewise, sweeping over the...

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