Posted on 12th October 2020 by Fabiana Ferraro

Novices’ Guide to Gundog Puppy Training

So you’ve just brought home a new gundog puppy, and excited to begin training.  You probably have a thousand questions but not sure where to start!  The web is a great place for sources of free information but often, can be a little overwhelming to a novice gundog handler.  As with anything, there are vast amounts of differing opinions but don’t panic, we have you covered.  This article is written to help you get started on the fundamentals.  Here we put your most frequently asked questions to a seasoned Gun who has trained both cockers and labs.  I hope this simple and straightforward advice helps get you started, and put your puppy in good stead.

After running an Instagram question poll, here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

Q: How early can you start training?

 Training your new puppy can begin as soon as bringing them home.  As long as they can see and hear, there is no reason why you cannot begin.  Introduce very slowly, within a small enclosed area away from distractions.  Use a very small and light canvas dummy (so your dog can easily grab it). White or black dummies are easier for a young dog to see.

Q: How soon to introduce retrieves to a young dog?

 Again, this can happen as soon as the dog is brought home.  Do not be tempted to use toys or balls with your puppy.  Also don’t over do it – little and often, in a small area with no distractions works well.  Introduce the use of a small, light and soft fill dummy.  Ask your dog to retrieve the dummy from a very short distance (just a few feet away), and allow the dog to watch you pick it up.  This will instil the action until they do it themselves.  Although starting from young, don’t work your puppy too much, perhaps spend only a few minutes each day repeating this.

Over time, you can begin to increase the size and weight of the dummy, which will help to build strength of the dogs neck muscles, so later they are be able to retrieve game bird, such as pheasants, etc.

Q: Where is best to keep your gundog – indoor or outdoors?

It is advised a gundog is kept outdoors.  To be able to train an obedient and successful gundog, it cannot also be your pet.  Although sounding cruel to some, it in fact is not at all.  The dog will thrive being outdoors (obviously with adequate kennel, etc).  It gives a dog personal space and stops him from becoming dependent.  Additionally, it gets them used to the environment in which they’ll be working in.

Q: When to introduce the whistle?

Usually it is advised whistle work is introduced at around the six month age.  Introducing the stop whistle can be an area of gundog training which, if rushed, can cause issues.  The dog will not have fully learnt, and later can become a problem in the field.  Although overdoing it, is also advised against; the dog can become bored and lose interest.

Above all, handlers must be patient.  Also remember that effective training will adapt to use methods that suit the individual dog.  What are your thoughts – do you have any tips or advice?  Get in touch, would love to hear!


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Fabiana Ferraro

Posted by Fabiana Ferraro

Regional Reporter - East Midlands

Female, 28 years old, Northamptonshire living (but also very familiar with Rutland due to parents living there), work full time in marketing. An avid lover of the British countryside and all that relates to it. I have an Instagram page with mostly countryside related content, and try to keep this updated as frequently as possible. In my spare time I enjoy travelling (although limited during COVID), hiking, camping and generally exploring what the UK’s countryside has to offer. When I have some spare time available, I enjoy a spot of clay shooting, home décor shopping (what women doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy?!) and thoroughly enjoy a day at the races with my other half, or a summers day spent at a country show. Always wanting to push my boundaries and try something new and exciting!

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