Dog Training Profile for your dog from one of our expert trainers


Gun Dog Training

Choose working gun dog pedigrees

The most important factor in gun dog training is to choose a puppy (of which ever breed you decide) that is from working gun dog stock. Within most gun dog breeds today there are in effect two separate breeds ie working and show. Most of the essential working abilities have been lost by the show strains and purchasing a puppy with a show pedigree will almost certainly lead to disappointment.

Working gun dogs should have a pedigree which includes Field Trial Champions and Field Trial Winners. These titles are usually abbreviated to FTCh or FTW. Generally the show types are larger, bigger boned and more cumbersome than their smaller working gundog counterparts. A puppy from a good working gun dog background almost trains itself demonstrating natural retrieving ability, a good nose which is used to find game, pace, style, and a willingness to enter cover and water.

Which breed of gun dog?

The choice of breed should be determined by the type of shooting that the gun dog will be used for. However personal preference obviously plays a large part. For rough shooting where the game is mainly walked up with thick cover that requires a hunting dog to flush the game then spaniels are the best choice. Either English springer or cocker spaniels will do this admirably.

For driven shooting or wildfowling a retriever which can be trained to sit quietly at a pheasant peg or grouse butt during a drive and then retrieve birds at the end of the drive is the best bet. A labrador or golden retriever would make a good choice of gun dog.

If you have very large areas of ground to cover with a low population of game then a pointer or setter would best be suited for this and ideally would be used with a retriever. English, Irish or Gordon setters together with English pointers would be most suitable gun dog breeds.

Choice of gun dog puppy

Most gun dog puppies are sold at eight weeks old and it is virtually impossible to pick the best pup at this age. It is best to choose one that has good sound physical features and appears to be friendly and outgoing and is one that you take to!

Age to start gun dog training

It is best to delay serious dog training until about the age of eight months. This allows the gun dog puppy to have a carefree period developing self-confidence and becoming comfortable with the world around him. Socialisation and play are the most important factors. However the puppy should be taught his name, lead trained, taken in the car and encouraged to retrieve a ball or dummy from cover. Many gun dog puppies will start to swim at an early age especially in summer.

Gun dog training commences

The first part of gun dog training, as with most dog training, consists of basic obedience training. The dog is taught to :

  • walk on a lead
  • walk to heel
  • drop to command
  • sit and stay
  • stop to the whistle
  • recall
  • jumping

The next stage is to move towards the gu ndog aspects of dog training :

  • retrieving and steadiness to a dummy
  • introducing the gun
  • retrieving cold game
  • quartering to a pattern with respect to the wind
  • steadiness to game
  • dropping to shot
  • working to hand signals
  • waterwork

The final stage is to begin shooting over your gun dog and this is probably the most crucial stage of gun dog training. It will determine whether the dog obedience training has been thorough enough. The gun dog should only be given very few flushes/retrieves at this stage in order to maintain his standards of training.

Obedience Guarantee

If, after completing our residential dog training course, we can't demonstrate to you that your dog is obedient we won't charge you a penny!


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