Basic Principles of Gundog Training


The information on this page is taken from "Gundog Training Broadsheets" by Eric Begbie and describes the essential principles of gundog training. The full training course can be obtained by clicking here.






Underlying Principles


The series of lessons in the Broadsheets has been arranged in a time sequence which corresponds approximately to the age of the puppy. Dogs do vary quite considerably in the rate at which they learn so the age guide may have to be altered to suit an individual pupil. Throughout the lessons there are three very important principles which must be kept in mind at all times. An amateur trainer can easily slip up as a result of over-enthusiasm, tiredness, frustration, excitement or any number of other reasons but any deviation from these basic principles is a sure step towards failure.


Consistency - It is vital always to be consistent in the way a dog is treated. The same commands should always be used and the dog should never be asked to do something, e.g. chase an unshot hare, which would normally be forbidden. It is only too easy to fall into the trap of having one set of rules for some occasions and another set for different circumstances. Be particularly careful if you keep your dog in the house - it is very easy to have one set of rules for some occasions and another set for different occasions. Unfortunately your puppy cannot appreciate that it is in order for him to jump up at you or your wife but that he must not maul your mother-in-law.


Non-Predictability - Consistency should not be confused with predictability. A dog should never be able to predict its handler's commands so identical routines should not be followed every day. Different routes should be taken for exercise and training should be performed in varying sequences so that the dog has to await its owner's command rather than being able to predict the next move.


Insistence - Once the dog has been trained to give a certain response, correct performance must be insisted upon whenever the appropriate command is given. For example, if the dog has been commanded to "stay" and, after a few minutes, it wanders for a yard or two, then it must be taken back to the stay position and again commanded to stay. Even minor lapses of discipline will lead to an unreliable gundog if allowed to remain uncorrected.


Look for ways in which you can use everyday occurrences to re-inforce the more formal training. As an example, once you have taught the puppy to sit and stay, make him sit while you put his food bowl down before him and then wait varying lengths of time before calling him forward to eat. Similarly, it might be possible for you to make him sit at the open kennel gate before taking him his evening walk. Wait until you have reached the garden gate before calling him up.


With little "extra" exercises of that sort, however, do be sure to avoid falling into the predictability-trap by varying the length of time you make him sit or the distance you walk away before calling him.









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