Self-Control and Understanding of the job seem to be the two most important elements for a Gundog. The hardest thing for most Gundogs is to control the natural instincts that are within them and to use them only when given permission.
It is a difficult task we set before them. Find and flush the game, don’t chase but mark where it falls, then go and retrieve it and bring it to hand without damaging it. All of this involves interrupting the natural pattern that is within all dogs.
Eye – Stalk – Chase – Grab – Bite – Kill - Consume
In a predator, such as the wolf, once this pattern is initiated and unless the quarry escapes the pattern is followed to the end. Selective breeding has given us dogs that do not have the full pattern of behaviour so that for most of the Gundog breeds the pattern ends at the point of the grab, which is shaped to become the retrieve. However this is not true for all the Gundogs and for these dogs it is harder to control their desire to ‘finish the job’.
Self-Control has to be taught, and is best taught from an early age so that the dog can learn that in order to obtain what he wants, he needs to control himself. For example, in order for the dog to be allowed to run free he should be able to sit and control himself in a stay whilst the lead is removed and then the dog is given permission to go.
Walking on a loose lead is a good measure of the self-control that a dog possesses. This is because it requires the dog to be able to resist distractions and to be able to pay attention to the owner despite what is going on around.
A Gundog is required to work, concentrate, and also to be able to relax when not working, in a very exciting and stimulating environment. There are lots of people, other dogs, game birds (one hopes!), rabbits, foxes, deer, and many other factors which the dog must be able to deal with. Thus, the dog must have an ability to control himself when highly aroused. The dog needs to be able to respond to its handler’s cues in an appropriate and timely manner.
A good foundation of self-control and a sound understanding of the key elements of a Gundog’s job is what we seek to teach at Dogs R Dogs. The foundation elements include:-• Loose lead walking
• Relaxing in exciting environments
• Solid stays amidst distractions
• A good retrieve
• Directional Control
• Response to the whistle
• Understanding hunting and using air scent
• Sit to the flush
All our training is choice based training carried out using positive reinforcement and clicker training to help the dogs understand what is expected of them and to reward them when they get it right. We teach the dogs that it is more rewarding to work for us than it is to work for themselves. This is achieved by controlling the outcome of the dog’s choices. This produces a dog that understands what is expected of him and a dog that is able to make correct choices without supervision. Clicker training also helps to produce a dog that understands how to problem solve and think independently when faced with a situation that it has never encountered before.
Ultimately we would like you to have a thinking, effective, controlled Gundog to work with you wherever you choose to take him. We hold one to one sessions throughout the year, Tuesdays-Saturdays at a time to suit you. Periodically we hold weekend-long workshops where we have visiting trainers for an intensive two days of training. Leanne also can take you through the Gundog Club Graded Test Scheme as she is a registered Instructor. See the Events page for upcoming training events.