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What can you do if your dog whines on the peg?
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If your dog has been doing this all season, I am quite sure you will never cure it and it is likely to get worse. The worst thing you can do is get cross. Perhaps it could be best managed by giving the dog a different role in the shooting field ie. beating or picking-up.
Regardless of how well bred your dog is, or how good the parents are, it is so important to be very careful when you introduce him to shot. Never take shortcuts or assume he will be fine, especially if he has an excitable or sensitive temperament.
So here’s my advice for preparing a young dog for the field. Once your young dog is steady to dummies being thrown and retrieving them well, introduce gunshot by having someone standing a good 40 metres away from you firing a hand pistol. Subject to him being okay with this – quiet verbal praise is very important and will help to reassure him – have a shot fired followed by a dummy thrown, which will encourage your dog to associate the sound of shot with a possible retrieve. Gradually, over time, walk closer to your friend, until such time as you are able to fire the pistol from your dog’s side. Never be tempted to use a dummy launcher to do this introduction to shot. Many young dogs hate the sharp noise they make. A dummy launcher can also wind up a young dog and encourage them to make a noise.
Visit your local shooting school, preferably taking an older, calm dog with you, initially letting your youngster hear the shooting from afar in the car park. Provided he is not bothered by the noise, quietly walk him around, until over time (which might mean a few visits) he is perfectly happy to walk close to the stands where the shooting is taking place.
When your young dog is on the whistle, taking hand signals and he is 100 per cent confident when you fire a shotgun by him, take him pigeon shooting. Some young dogs are not too keen to pick a freshly shot pigeon as their feathers are so loose when they are warm. Prepare him by giving him some retrieves at home using pigeons shot the day before. Have a friend in the hide shooting initially, with you and your young dog standing some distance away. See how he reacts to the shooting and pigeons being shot. If he is quite calm and relaxed, leave him sitting and pick most of the pigeons by hand. Return to your dog and send him for a pigeon, making sure everything is in his favour to succeed. Over time, build on getting him used to being shot over in the hide and having the odd retrieve.
In September, introduce him to partridge shooting by taking him out first of all without your gun, so you can keep your distance and concentrate completely on him.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to progress very slowly, constantly watching how your dog reacts. If, at any time, he shows any signs of over excitement or dislike, stop immediately and take him away from the situation. Go over old ground in his training and gradually build up to reintroducing him to the stage you had got him to and you should find that he is able to cope quite happily.
The UK's only dedicated Gun Dog magazine
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