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  • Writer's pictureSpanish Water Dog Club

SWD Club Gundog Training 6 November 2022

It was a rather damp morning as we drove into the parking area at Pat Booth's Paradise Paddock, north-east of Stafford. We had all dressed for the weather and the dogs were ready for their day of fun-packed experience.

Simon Whitehead kindly gave us the whole day, allowing plenty of time for those of us who hadn't tried gundog training to gain a better understanding of what's involved. As we all know, our breed responds best to kind handling and learns quickly through play. They certainly thrive with this system, even if loud words like COME HERE are needed sometimes! Simon's explanations helped us to enjoy each exercise as the dogs responded so willingly to their handlers. We always ended on a positive note, making sure the dogs succeeded on something to finish with, even if our attempt at a particular task was not always achieved straight away.

The grass was not too long, but long enough to conceal a thrown training dummy. We took it in turns to help the dogs to show steadiness to the movement of a thrown article, and then to hunt and deliver a dummy to hand. The dogs learnt to wait patiently in the line for their turn.

Pat cooked some delicious bacon butties for everyone during the break, helped by Pamela, and tea and coffee was made for all, served up in Jane's BONE china mugs! Simon won a pleasing bottle of whiskey in Kiki's raffle, so we were all very happy for him even though he didn't share it.

In the afternoon's gathering sunshine Simon helped our dogs to enjoy a dummy retrieve from the launcher, which made quite a loud bang to imitate a gunshot. Rewarding the dog immediately with a dummy to retrieve makes them realise the noise is a fun thing and nothing to be scared of. We are proud to say none of the dogs were gun-shy, and the launcher meant the dummy flew a much greater distance than we could throw one, so even more fun for the dogs. Any dog failing to mark their retrieve was encouraged to hunt up until they could wind it. Pamela's dog, Ramsay, really enjoyed his hunting up, nose down and working a good pattern.

Linda's bitch was so beautifully trained she earned Simon's praise on every exercise, a real example of what the breed is capable of with just a few minutes training a day. This gave us all the chance to see what we are aiming for:- a happy, responsive dog who is interested in working with the handler for their joint goal.

After an enjoyable day in the fresh air with our dogs we had the opportunity to chat to Simon and with each other before going our separate ways.

Well done to everyone who came. Huge thanks to Simon and to Pat. See you next time!

And when our communication with our SWD suffers a little hiccup, we just stop, finish on a simple task they can succeed at and remember there is always tomorrow!


Jane Appleton, SWDC Gundog Co-ordinator

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