An intro into the Gundog World
We were delighted to be invited to a four day “Train the Trainer” Gundog workshop by Collette May and Colin Pelham at Devon Dogs. Gundog is fascinating sport with deep roots and traditions. And with our very own gundog, Rocket, a Working Cocker Spaniel, we were so excited to learn about the sport and how experts like Collette & Colin are leading the way in positive, reward and GAMES based training in the Gundog world.
The basics of the Gundog sport is retrieval / fetch. The reality is so much more complex but also extremely interesting and what makes it an additive sport.
What does gundog training involve?
Basic gundog training involves a lot of general obedience – naturally, as the dogs need to be under full control out in the field with many highly distracting elements.
They will need to stay settled and quiet by your side off lead, waiting patiently to be released onto the target even if it lands right in front of them. One of the biggest jobs for the Gundog is to retrieve the target. This has many layers, not only do they need to be able to hunt down the target in sometimes difficult terrain but also bring it back quickly and deliver it straight to your hand.
Being able to communicate with your dog in the distance and being able to direct your dog to the target is key so using whistles and body signals are really important.
They also need to trust in you and believe in you so this is where the team work, bond and relationship is vital for a successful retrieve.
Is positive gundog training effective?
The proof is in the pudding. Collette & her dogs have been highly successful in competitive gundog sport and achieved many top results – all done through positive and reward based training. It is truly inspirational. Collette has such an amazing bond with her working dogs. The dog’s desire to work is visible as you see their eyes sparkle in anticipation and with incredible steadiness and focus.
It’s not just for gundog breeds!
This old sport has so many uses in the pet dog world as the skills are so transferable. For example pulling on lead, coming back when called, confidence building, self control are all covered in the training games. Why? A working dog will need to wait patiently until it is their turn, stay by your side as you walk, come back as soon as they have retrieved the item and drop it in your hand straight away. They also need to be confident working away from you and still be able to listen. And this is all done through fun games. In fact some of these very games we already play in classes and we will certainly be adding a few more into the mix!