Driven Shooting Gundogs

Preparing Gundogs for a First Shooting Season

gundog_training

© Copyright Des Colhoun and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The first shoot day is a big event in your Gundogs life. It is hard to get away from the thrill of watching young Gundogs performing at their first shoot day. Today is the day that all the months of hard work; training setbacks, cajoling and pleading come to their conclusion. It is now or never, trust in yourself and your Gundogs and the trial will be overcome.

This is where the months of hard work pay off, where the rubber hits the road.

There is so much anticipation and expectation of your Gundogs whether you have trained them to be at your feet operating as a peg dogs or perhaps working in a team with the pickers up. The Gundogs first test will be within the first few minutes they are given an order and you see when they respond.

GundogsThis day is going to go down in your memory; it’ll either be a crash and burn experience or a monumental happy memory where all things have gone well. This is where the months of hard work pay off, where the rubber hits the road.

To be certain that today goes well you no doubt went out in the summer rabbit shooting to build up your confidence and that of your Gundogs so that they will perform when the sound of a gun and other distractions (rabbits running around) interfere with the training given.

you may have taken him out onto the stubbles to practice on the local ‘greys’
                             

 

As soon as partridges season opens in September you may have taken him out onto the stubbles to practice on the local ‘greys’ all in preparation for the opening of pheasant shooting season. This is be the best preparation that you could possibly have given them. You want to make sure that the hours of work come to their fruition so you must only take your Gundogs with you if you are certain of their upcoming performance and not allow any shortcomings to slip by.

working back from the beginning of the season to a point where you are happy to put certain markers or goals down to be met.

working_dogIf things have not been going well it may be worthwhile in delaying this premier performance until a little later in the season. Nothing would be worse than having an ill performing gundog ruin your shoot day or worse everybody else’s! It would be a shame to take him and have to put your Gundogs into the car.

last minute cramming is pointless!

Fortunately planning does not have to be too intensive, it is simply a process of working back from the beginning of the season to a point where you are happy to put certain markers or goals down to be met.

So how do you make sure they are prepared? It is imperative that you do some last minute prep with them by giving them a few run-ups or ‘dry runs’ before the first shoot day. As with schoolboys studying, last minute cramming is pointless! If you have neglected the ground work and preparation no last minute cramming will win your gundogs or you an A+. It is therefore unlikely they will leap from the car and perform well whilst birds are flying, guns shooting and other Gundogs are present.

Do not give them a huge meal before leaving.

gun_dogIn the week before the first shoot go over basics and solid key points slowly and steadily. Why  rush things when training your dogs? This makes everything so complicated for them. They will become thoroughly befuddled.

Keep to the training routine on the day. You will no doubt have a long journey in many cases so ensured to feed them well and sure they have water. Perhaps give them water and feed him when you arrive, this will give energy but the digestion will slow enthusiasm. Do not give them a huge meal before leaving. Make sure your Gundogs can relieve themselves before putting them in the car.

                             

 

inform the Shoot Captain or whoever is in charge that this is your gundog’s first day

In the concern for this ‘opening day’ it is easy to forget what you need for your shooting day such as cartridge; license, boots/clothing etc. So do plant plan well ahead and arrive in plenty of time.

When you arrive inform the Shoot Captain or whoever is in charge that this is your gundogs first day and ensure you are able to work them. It is suggested that you use your fresh gundogs for say half to two thirds of the drives so as not to tire them. You will want to ease them into his role. So select drives where you can most realistically mimic the training they are used to.

It is not unusual for new gundogs to be either quiet and in awe of what is going on around him even shyness on occasion

Gun_dogPut them on a lead initially and let them get used to being with you and hearing the myriad of other sights; smells and distractions. It is not unusual for new gundogs to be either quiet and in awe of what is going on around him even shyness on occasion or the situation may seem threatening to them. At this point your dog will no doubt be very difficult to control.

Pick the first retrieves well. Make sure the birds can easily be seen and there is no chance of another dog competing for it. Try and keep it simple today, if all goes well in the first two drives perhaps it might be better to rest your gundogs and allow them to reflect on what has happened and thus ‘lock-in’ learning with positive reinforcement rather than work them all day and allow one difficult moment to ruin it.If you do this you are more likely to get the best out of your gundogs and log experiences for shoots later in the season.

If you Gundogs have good a experience they will behave and perform

When you rest them ensure they are dry, fed and watered before putting them back in the car. This will mean you are more likely to have Gundogs whose shooting day experiences are as fun as yours. Nothing is worse for them than coming home wet; cold, hungry and tired having been shouted at out all day. Your Gundogs will remember and treat further shoot days as a bad experiences no doubt dreading them.

If you Gundogs have good a experience they will behave and perform and so therefore your experience will be positive. Ease your Gundogs into their first shooting season with training in between shoots and you will educate gundogs who will be well experienced and a joy to take with you on your shoot days.