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Top 9 Gundog FAQs

When it comes to gundogs, owners can have a lot of questions they need answering, from the breed to choose, what food is best and more. To help our readers out, we have put together nine of the most frequently asked questions we have come across in order to give some answers and help gundog breeders, owners and trainers.

Flat coat retriever with dummy

What is the Best Breed of Gundog?

It can be said there is no ‘best’ breed of gundog, as more often it is down to the owner on what breed works best for their needs when shooting. Each breed of gundog has different traits and characteristics which make them work well in some areas and bad in others. Labrador retrievers are popular for the picking line and are happy working in water. German shorthaired pointers are happy working in woods and growth. Spaniels are energetic and a popular choice for the beating line. Have a read through our previous blog posts on the various gundog breeds used in the UK.

Where Do I Start with Gundog Training?

When you have a young gundog, a big question is when to start training and what to teach them first. Starting a training programme is a good plan, teaching your dog the basic commands first, followed by training in specific areas such as retrieving, obedience and hunting. Of course, every dog is different, but you can adapt to their difficulties rather than expect them to work to your training schedule. Set goals for yourself and your dog and be patient with them.

Should I Kennel My Gundog?

Putting your dog in a kennel can be due to several reasons such as owning multiple dogs, the mess, you work or to avoid bad habits. For multiple dogs in a smaller home, a kennel can be an advantage as it stops them taking over your home, and can also keep the mess to a minimum. After working in the field, there will be mud, dirt and dust all over the house, in addition to the hair shedding.If everyone in the family works and is out of the house for the majority of the day, it is not appropriate to leave a dog shut indoors without access to a toilet. A well-designed kennel gives you peace of mind that your dogs will be comfortable and able to relieve themselves when they need.

Dog jumping over a wire fence

What is a Good Way to Bond With My New Gundog?

Dogs can sometimes take a while to bond with their owner, and shouldn’t be taken out in the field before you have established a bond and trust. The offseason is an excellent time for this too. Start with taking your dog out for walks a few times a day over several weeks, on the lead. When the dog is not on the lead, you should call the dog and encourage them to come to you, so they get used to your voice and tone you use in commands. You merely need to take time gaining the dogs trust and using positive reinforcement when they do the right thing.

What Food is Best for Gundog Puppies?

Getting nutrition right is crucial for well-developed and healthy dogs. For puppies, you don’t want to change their diet when first brought home, as there are other things to get used to. You should make sure your gundogs have a balanced diet and are taking the correct vitamin and mineral supplements, as puppies especially cannot develop on just meat alone. You should also not skimp on the quality of the food. Gundogs are working dogs and need the best of the best.

How Can I Improve Concentration in my Gundog?

Concentration in gundogs is crucial for them to work well on the field. Bonding with them first is needed, so your dog knows your voice and commands and trusts you. Concentration can be improved through working with other dogs and distractions, where your gundog has obstacles but can slowly be taught to listen only to you. Train them before and throughout the offseason, and provide treats when they are consistently concentrating on you.

Labrador retriever with dummy

How Can I Stop My Gundog Puppy Biting?

Nearly all puppies mouth and some can bite too hard. This doesn’t indicate a nasty puppy, but instead shows that they have not learned the control and pressure. Biting can be an issue if you want a gundog with a soft mouth who is happy to carry the game without damaging it. To teach bite inhibition, use soft toys and put a toy in their mouth when they go to bite you. Don’t get rough with your puppy as it can send the wrong message and could lead them to bite more. Don’t hit them or smack them in the face as your puppy needs to know that your hands are a source of good.

Should I Have More than One Gundog?

It is often easier to train gundogs when you have more than one, though the ability to have more depends on individual circumstances, as multiple dogs require more time, effort and money. Training with more than one dog becomes a double lesson in what you are training them in such as retrieving but also obedience and patience as they learn to wait their turn. Your dogs will soon learn not all the retrieves are for them. Also, if you house your dog in a kennel, another dog will be company and make life more pleasant. However, make sure if you do get a second dog, that the time is right. Your first dog should be fully trained, as they could pick up bad habits from an untrained dog. You should also start early basic training separately from your older dog.

How Can I Help My Gun Shy Dog?

It is said a gun shy dog cannot be cured, but if it is, it is because the dog is just ‘gun nervous’. Retraining your dog not to be scared of gunshots can take a long time. They need to be reintroduced to loud and unfamiliar noises and have a distraction or be concentrating on something else they enjoy when a shotgun is fired. Keeping the training slow and steady, similar to a puppy, can help an older dog become less gun shy. However, with no dog being the same, you might not be able to ‘cure’ their fear.

Two spaniels playing with a training accessory

We hope this post has answered some of your frequently asked questions about gundogs, but be sure to take a look at some of our previous posts on gundogs and the gundog accessories we have available from our online shop.