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First time to Gun Dog Training

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by HollyandNala, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. HollyandNala

    HollyandNala Registered Users

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    Hello,
    Nala is my near 5 month old Red Fox lab pup. We are going to introduce ourselves to a local gun dog club for some weekly training at the end of June. We will officially start with them once she has turned 6 months old.

    Whilst we live an outdoor lifestyle and come from a rural upbringing, we don't actually shoot or work ourselves, however due to the hobbies we have, we need Nala to have good discipline and obedience, hence the interest in working dog training.

    Please can we have some info about what we need to know before we go, what we can expect and anything that we need to take with us? Is there anything we can work on at home before we go?

    Thank you in advance for any help/tips/advice you can give,
    Holly and Nala
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Hi Holly and welcome.

    I would first say, you need to be VERY clear in your mind as to what you will and will not find acceptable in terms of how you train your dog. There are thankfully more positive reinforcement gundog trainers these days than there used to be, but the majority are still "traditional" and tend to train with a mixture of reward and punishment. Things like jerking on a slip lead to "train" a heel position is very common. For me, that's unacceptable and I would be very clear with the trainer that I wouldn't be doing it. In fact, no puppy of mine would be on a slip lead at all until they were already able to walk nicely without pulling - which can be done perfectly well without any potential damage to your puppy's neck!

    So, it depends very much on the style of training. If they use treats, great. If not, well, I think you have to be made of stern stuff and know a bit about training if you want to ask for different methods, as lots of trainers are very skilled at using euphemisms that make it seem that "it's not that bad", when you're actually training your dog through intimidation and, because you can see how well their dogs are trained, you think it's OK. Well, it's your dog, it's your choice. But for me, it's not OK :)
    The use of treats is a good rule of thumb. If they poo-poo it, they're old school. They may give you lots of convincing-sounding reasons why treats are a bad idea, but dogs have been taken to field trial level (way beyond what you're after) with the use of food, so don't believe them.

    Of course, the one close to you may already be force free, in which case, great! You can see a list of force-free gundog instructors here: http://www.thegundogclub.co.uk/?page_id=1003
     
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  3. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    As for what to work on at home; I think the three biggest things in gundog training basics are a good walk at heel (on and off lead), a good sit/stay while you walk away and a good recall. Of course, for basic level, you won't be expected to do these for any length of time or with much level of skill/distraction, but they are fundamental behaviours.

    The Gundog Club has grades that you can take; the first level being suitable for a puppy or beginner older dog. Here's more information, which might give you an idea of what skills are expected: http://www.thegundogclub.co.uk/?page_id=926
     
  4. HollyandNala

    HollyandNala Registered Users

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    Wow thank you so much - we are going to meet and see a training session as it happens at the end of June so that we can see how they work at this particular club and go from there.

    Nala is currently with a harness and clip lead. She is walking well on them with a loose lead the majority of the time, only pulling if she needs to go and do her business or there is something behind her that she doesn't like. We do have a slip lead at home, but i will be discussing with the trainer and keeping that at home until I am confident in her walking to heel.

    I am with you in terms of positive reinforcement rather than punishment. We have only one word to tell Nala when she is doing the wrong thing and nine times out of ten, she already knows she is pushing her luck.
    We are currently using treats and she is responding well. Her recall is coming on in baby steps, she can sit with a hand gesture and command, along with stay and paw.

    Thank you so much for the links to the website and what we can work on at home. I will get looking at these today and putting into practice over the next week or so.
     
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  5. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    That sounds great and that you're making good progress already. Using a harness with a puppy (or any dog that has a tendency to pull) is a good idea for protecting their delicate necks.

    I also had a slip lead when I brought my first puppy home - I'd been told they were the best thing by the breeder. Thankfully, I did my research before she came to me and I resolved to a life of force-free training so she never wore it. I use limited slip leads when training now, which have the benefits of a slip without the ability to choke the dog. These ones are great: http://www.tuffstuff-ltd.co.uk/p/23/limited-slip-lead

    The only exception is my latest one who is a show line dog and she was taught with a show lead (a very thin slip lead) from an early age. However, she only wears this when doing show training, and it never tightens. I wouldn't walk her on it, or use it for working/gundog training because she can still get over-excited. To be honest, my two older dogs would be fine on regular slips leads these days, but I already have my limited ones so there seems no point in buying non-limited just to prove a point :D

    Good luck - please do let us know how you get on :)
     
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  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Oh, and if you don't like what you see, don't feel you have to continue because they're local; most people who choose force-free trainers travel to go to them. Even if you can't make it a once a week thing, the good thing about gundog training is there is a LOT to practice between lessons :)
     
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  7. CarolT

    CarolT Registered Users

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    Good luck Holly. Interesting reading above as it is also something I have thought about with my almost 5 month old labrador. I find it fascinating and very interesting and something I would love to watch. I am (struggling - of sorts) with general training just now so how I would get her to listen to me for that I doubt!!! Want to take my dog with me hillwalking in due course so I need to tighten up on everything!
     
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  8. HollyandNala

    HollyandNala Registered Users

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    Yes we have similar reasons for wanting to have an obedient dog. My Partner and I (as well as most of our family and close friends) compete in a Motorsport called Autograss. From March to September with spend 80% of our weekends in a field with high powered vehicles all around us - due to this, we need Nala to be switched on and focused on us otherwise she could get hurt.
    She has been with us racing several times now and the noises of the cars do not bother her, even when there back fire or start up whilst she is asleep next to the exhaust, so we are convinced loud noises at a shoot are something she would take in her stride. We may not venture down this point, instead focusing on field work and trials, however it is very early days yet.
    Since posting this, recall and heel work is coming on well, however she gets very easily distracted when walking with us.

    Good luck with your training, have you enrolled in any courses?
     
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  9. AlaskaSkeeter

    AlaskaSkeeter Registered Users

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    Two important concepts are a steady sit ( no movement except for head movement to see marks) and focus on each mark until verbally released to retrieve.
    I like to use "stand-alone" marks to teach and maintain these skills.

    Using a dummy launcher on an old stock teaches pup to mark off the gun and to be steady to shot.
     
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  10. HollyandNala

    HollyandNala Registered Users

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    Brilliant thank you for this, i will watch later on.
    We are on a break from training at the moment, but due to start again in August.
     

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