Advanced gundog skills have to be build on a solid foundation of obedience.
These are exactly the same skills that we expect of any obedient pet dog.
And the foundation of any dog based sport or specialised training.
No matter what the future of your dog these are the three commands he must know inside out, and upside down.
Off lead heelwork is vital for any working gundog as it enables to dog to be under control whilst not actively working.
We can move a dog from place to place quietly and without disturbing wildlife whilst he is at heel. And keep a close eye on him whilst passing distractions or dangers.
Establishing a heel position also enables us to line the dog up in a particular direction, and so is one of the foundations of directional control.[wp_ad_camp_1]For pet dogs, heelwork enables large and boisterous dogs to be managed safely.
Being dragged along behind a powerful dog is not only unpleasant, it is also unsafe.
Both for the owner and for others in the vicinity of the dog.
For working dogs, there is sometimes a fear that too much heelwork, too soon may inhibit hunting, particularly where spaniels are concerned. And we deal with this issue in an article called: Heelwork Versus Hunting
Heelwork exercises can be found in the Graded Exercises section.
The sit is not only important for ‘parking’ your dog whilst you are otherwise occupied, it is the basis for the all important stop command.
From the sit we develop the dogs ‘brakes’ and thus our ability to redirect him in the field, and to develop a stop to shot, flush and fall.
You can find out how to establish a basic sit, and how to develop this into a ‘stop’, in the Graded Exercise section.
For dogs that live in the home, sit is an essential means of control, and an important default behaviour for all companion dogs.
The recall command is not only crucial for returning our dogs to our side, it is an essential component of directional control, enabling us to bring the dog towards us when he has overshot the area of fall.
For pet dogs, which are often allowed extensive free running and hunting, a highly proficient recall makes the difference between walks that are a pleasure and walks that are sheer misery.
Problems with recall are very common and usually due to poor proofing. You can find out more about recall in my Recall Training Centre on The Labrador Site, in my gundog puppy guide ‘The Right Start’, and in my book Total Recall (a complete recall training programme for puppies and adult dogs)
Just like working gundogs, pet gundogs need to be obedient. You may not need to take that obedience to the same level, but it all begins in exactly the same way. And with those same three commands.
If you get these right the rest will follow. You can find more help and information in my Grade One gundog guide: Passing Grade One and in the Graded Exercises section
Getting off to a great start with your puppy gives you a big advantage. You can find out how to lay the foundations of obedience and good behaviour in my new book The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.