A Gun Dog Reminder Session
Amber back in the field

By Andy Clayton

Dog holding a retrieve article

In 2018 I took my cocker spaniel Amber along to her first Gun Dog training course being held by The Friendly Dog Club over the summer. We had such a good time, that we returned for a follow-up course in summer 2019. This is the first in a few blogs about how we got on!

For those who don't know, gun dog training involves many disciplines that you cover in basic training and takes them to another level with special focus on skills that are good to have in the field.

We started the first session back refreshing some of these skills, initially walking around the field and getting our dogs to pay close attention. This is a good opportunity to get the inevitable "let's sniff and see who's been around" activity out of the way. Amber isn't too bad on this front, but that's mainly because she's twigged that I'm in possession of some tasty treats, so she'd rather stick with me to see if she can persaude me to part with any of them.

Next up we started a send away exercise. This involved calling our dogs back to us and then clicking before throwing a treat away as the reward. This is so that our hounds have to go away to get the food. No doubt we'll expand on this in the coming weeks.

We then moved on to the recall, calling our dogs back to us across the field. We did it at different distances and also with the distraction of other dogs doing the same task nearby. You may recall from my blog last year that Amber is a "senior citizen" and so these are training tasks we've covered in the past. She's pretty good at them, most of the time, but like all dogs has her moments when she decides she'll do her own thing. They're not robots! Luckily she was focussed during this task and did very well. Engage proud dad mode.

Next we used a retreive item and got our dogs to bring it back to us before splitting into 2 groups where those of us who attended last year (or have a good level of basic training with the dog we'd brought to the course) moved on to a formal retrieve. Again, Amber's pretty good at this, although ideally she'd sit a bit closer to me when she gets back with her toy (see picture). But I am being picky there!

Finally we tried a long distance stop on recall. Amber was slightly distracted by an interesting smell on her way to me, but she did look up and spot me giving her the stop hand signal and she put the brakes on. Rather stupidly on my part, I didn't use the whistle to get her attention so a black mark for me there?!

This was an introductory week to introduce those new to the gun dog  course to some of the skills they need and to remind those of us who attended last year what we should be doing. It was a great start. Amber and I both had loads of fun and we're thoroughly looking forward to next week!

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