The Countryman's Weekly

Gundog Training

Gundog Training
December 04
08:04 2019

A good retrieve is not over until it’s presented perfectly

by David Mazey.

THE shooting season’s well under way by now and my two young dogs are gaining valuable game finding experience. I’m delighted to find that the older of the two is now picking and presenting birds cleanly; no messing around. However, the younger one, although he picks them up with no problem, seems unable to deliver them without putting them down and fussing about with them.

This seems to be a common problem with young dogs. I remember the older dog did this last year, but this year it’s all magically come together and as I said, his presentation is perfect.

Neither of these dogs has ever fussed with dummies, not even heavy hare dummies, nor with cold game, so why the problem with fresh-shot game? Well it’s partly because with a fresh shot bird the feathery skin is loose and rolls around the carcass making it difficult for the dog to get a firm hold and when he tries to, he’s likely to get a mouthful of feathers.

This is particularly so in the case of soft-mouthed dogs, which is, of course, what we want in our picking-up dogs. A hard-mouthed dog might take a much firmer hold but inadvertently crush the fragile rib cage – what we call ‘putting in’. In a Field Trial this is an eliminating fault and even if you don’t trial it’s not a desirable habit as the bird would not be well presentable at table.

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