Duck Shooters and Dog Training

For discussion on anything retrieving related - trialing, training equipment, news, etc.

Moderator: Peter Butterfield

Duck Shooters and Dog Training

Postby Karl Britton » Tue 25 Jan 2022 2:20 pm

Last week I read a post about a Duck Shooter requesting assistance or alluding to a trained dog and paying for this service. The person who posted this received a lot of negative comments and was made to feel uncomfortable and later removed the post. I don’t normally comment on social media, as everyone would appear to have an opinion. I did feel it was worth writing about on the RA site as I do think there are some real positive reasons why triallers may move a dog early, rehome them or sell as a part trained dog.

If you read the post correctly I believe it was a cry for help? I may be wrong….
I personally have rehomed, trained dogs to shooters back in the UK, who where professional shooters and wanted peg dogs. Some of the dogs I rehomed were at the end of their competitive Field Trial life, some also got too hot to compete in Field Trials, but would happily sit as a peg dog and collect birds all day long.

It was a win, win situation, the dogs enjoyed the next few years doing really what I bred and trained them to do, whilst I went onto my next project. This also helped me financially, by allowing me to purchase maybe another pup or help pay for Club fees and possibly fuel for my truck and more dog stuff! Whilst I was travelling up and down the country to compete.

In addition, I would train the shooter/handler all my commands and have them back periodically for lessons and again the money I received for my time I put back into the sport, as I was a young family man with little pocket money plus a mortgage.

This normally continued for most of the dog’s life. Or until the new owner felt comfortable to maintain the dogs standard of training correctly or what they where happy with.

I also paid, Pro Trainers for my lessons to learn more myself and live training to prepare my dogs for the trialling season. Obviously in the UK none of this was free, all my “so called” Pro Friends did not cut me much slack when I was trying to pick their brains and learn more of the sport, this cost a lot of money. If the lesson had finished and I wasn’t paying, the trainer tended to lose their voice pretty quickly and would say you will need to leave that for your next lesson!
In Australia we don’t do this. We have an expectation that all help in training dogs is freely given!

Clubs tend to put on one or two training days a year and normally some regular clubs or trialling groups/friends will meet at various venues across the country teaching the basics, this is great encouragement, but not everybody can make that training, depending on the distance and logistics in particular young people with families or professionals starting out with their career. So when you are indeed starting out we all need a helping hand and pointing in the right direction.

In Australia I have moved started dogs on, which I did not believe would go past Restricted level, partially because they where either too hot, an Alpha male, or working for themselves, and it does not matter how good of a trainer you are, how much training you deliver to that dog if you get that feeling you’re not going to fix this! (Then again this is me) or have a connection with each other you must trust your gut! What is the best thing to do, move the dog on, or sit staring at it in the kennel for the next 12 to 15 years knowing your unlikely to commit and give it a 100% of your time.

The four part trained dogs I have moved on were to Duck shooters, this again was a great win, the dogs got an awful lot of birds and had a great life, more importantly they are loved for what they are. Two of the people stayed with Retrieving for a few more years, whilst that dog actively went through the ranks, also picking up a lot of ducks one dog went on to become an NRD and the other a RRD. This was a win for the Clubs too because they had other people in the sport that would not have ordinarily entered a dog. What did I charge for this service, for moving a trained dog on that had basic obedience and fieldwork complete, “Nothing” I sold the dog at the cost of a good pup, which allowed me to buy another dog.

Other circumstances are; I have had dogs returned to me from a puppy now an adult, they have clearly been trained in a pedestrian manner, they are physiologically broke and confused, its taken myself further eight to ten months to build this dog back up again, regain its trust, get it going again and literally train it to where it should be, I have then moved them on to great family style shooting homes, I clearly cannot keep every dog I train or breed.

A person with a chronic disease once approached me, they physically were not capable of training a puppy to young adult, and I helped them, did the majority of the early stages of basic training for that person.

So I really think its horses for courses sometimes situations occur beyond the dogs control and there maybe is another solution and this is kinder for every body including the dog. I applaud that person for reaching out, no one should crucify him we should try and offer our help, which in turn may encourage him to come into the sport for more learning.

I would much rather people reach out to me and ask to train them or the dog than stuff it up and come to me asking if I can fix it! At the moment I am mentoring four handlers, I have people asking me to train their dog all the time and they will pay me! I kindly decline as I always have my own projects I am working on. I really encourage people if you can’t spare 15 mins a day to train a dog maybe you should not buy? In their defence some people really need to be trained and not the dogs; we don’t always facilitate that in a timely manner. This is why I spend several hours sometimes chatting through dog training problems with trainers and trying to deliver practical advice that may help them in their thought training processes. I have several conversations a week with a myriad of people who have a mixed variety of knowledge, understanding and practical experience of training a Gundog from every walk of life you can imagine, who ring me for advice on training and problems weekly.

If, I could be a professional dog trainer and make a living from training other peoples Gundogs in Australia I would, I would gladly not compete, I’m passionate about training, but not many people are, I study the nuances to develop my dogs further and try where possible, work on those faults that all dogs have and inadvertently develop through training. So why not reach out and ask for help, if you are starting out on this vast journey of dog training.

What could be really helpful is that all Clubs take ownership of training their members during the summer months we run less trials have a shorter trialling season, raise the bar by raising the standards and do more working test in preparation towards a trial! Maybe that might encourage more members and new dog handlers into the sport knowing they are going to get the support and development from their club to train their dog!

I personally have seen several dogs moved on recently, it’s always hard to move on a dog, a lot of careful thought and consideration should be given. Just like life is too short to stay in a relationship when deep down you know you would be both better off parting company. Sometimes it’s the kindest thing you can do for that dog. In most cases the dog has gone on to blossom in other areas under a different trainer. I guess it’s really is down to life choices and what your ambition is in this sport, where you want to go and at what level you want to compete.
Karl Britton
Posts: 66
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: 76 Elphin Drive, Squeaking Point, 7307, Tasmania

Re: Duck Shooters and Dog Training

Postby Georgina Golle » Tue 25 Jan 2022 5:42 pm

Bravo, Karl, very well written and most informative.
Georgina Golle
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue 29 Jun 2004 12:09 pm
Location: Capalaba, Qld

Re: Duck Shooters and Dog Training

Postby Graham Eames » Tue 25 Jan 2022 6:29 pm

Hello Karl,
Zoe is still picking up copious amounts of ducks in fine style and plenty of quail last year. She also receives more hugs, kisses and cuddles from the grandchildren than I do. She has led a wonderful duck dog's life. Apart from some colour changes around the muzzle, she still looks like a two year old and is still as fast as she was then. Wish I could say the same for me.
Graham Eames
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon 01 Dec 2003 7:40 am
Location: Langwarrin Vic

Re: Duck Shooters and Dog Training

Postby Peter Betteridge » Wed 26 Jan 2022 8:01 am

great stuff Karl
well thought out and articulate
Peter Betteridge
Posts: 436
Joined: Fri 20 Sep 2002 2:36 pm
Location: east lindfield sydney

Return to General

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests