Gundog Training


Excerpt from ‘The Flatcoated Retriever’ book by Paddy Petch:

"The Flat Coat has lost a great deal of the popularity it had a hundred years ago when it was the shooting dog for gentlemen. It has been superseded by the other Retrievers, particularly the Labrador, but having said that, the Flat Coat is still the only truly dual purpose Retriever out of the three for the same dogs are both shown and worked. At present there are not the structural differences to be found in this breed as in the other two, when show and work strains almost look like two different dogs. Flat Coat Retriever enthusiasts are trying hard to retain the working side of these dogs and while not everybody has either the time or the facilities to reach field trial standards, most People can train a dog to fetch a dummy and reach working test levels.”

Mindful of the above excerpt and the general comments from breeders and owners, the Scottish Flatcoated Retriever Club runs gundog training classes. The classes, or get together as they should more correctly be called, are run through the summer and winter at locations to suit those involved. The main points are as follows:
  • The classes are run for fun.
  • The classes are for Flatcoats.
  • Dogs do need not to stop being a show dog or family pet because it is training as a gun dog.
  • No charge is made unless an external instructor is asked to give a lesson or demonstration.
  • The are not run by experts but by enthusiasts with limited experience but commitment.
  • The classes do not involve dead animal’s only canvas dummies or your dog’s favourite ball/toy.
  • The aim of the classes is to bring out the dog’s natural instincts to retrieve, but in a controlled, (yes I did say controlled manner). If you don't use it you lose it which is the potential problem that some see developing.
  • Whilst it is harder to teach an old dog new tricks, you will never know their potential if you don't try it. So age, of dog or owner, does not bar anyone wanting to give it a go.
Most importantly your dog will enjoy it and benefit from both the mental and physical activity. (No it does not involve a lot of physical activity for the owner so you can relax.)

Why not give it a try? Beginners always welcome.

Training will continue throughout the winter depending on the weather, so if you would like to be kept informed of locations, dates and times, please email the Gundog Training Coordinator
The club held a Gundog Training Day on Sunday 18th June on the Culter Allers estate by kind permission of Mr & Mrs McCosh. The day was organised by Lindsay Kinnaird and she was greatly helped by Linda and Peter Howson with Mollie Jones assisting with dummy throwing! The trainers were Cammy Watts and Pat Robertson and a great time was had by all. Why not join us next time?

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Gundog Training Assessments

Information for Handlers
  1. The handler must have been a member of the Flatcoated Retriever Club of Scotland for at least 4 months before taking an assessment. 
  2. Dogs must be at least 6 months old before taking grade one. 
  3. Assessments must be taken in order. 
  4. No bitch in season may be entered in an assessment.
Grade 1
Heelwork: The handler will walk the dog on a loose lead for 20 yards, then sit the dog at the 20 yard marker.
Sit / Stay: The handler walks the dog off lead, to the 20 yard marker then sits the dog using the stop whistle. The handler leaves the dog and walks back to the start, waits 30 seconds then returns to the dog.
Recall: The dog is asked to sit at the start line, the handler walks to the 20 yard marker, waits 30 seconds then recalls the dog by voice or whistle and quietly replaces the lead.
Retrieves: Two single marked retrieves, in clear view the first at 15 yards the second at 20 yards.

Grade 2 
Obedience: The dog walks out at heel, off lead, to the 30 yard marker, the dog is left on stay command and the handler returns to the start. The handler waits 1 minute then recalls the dog but stops the dog, with the stop whistle at a predetermined location on route before finally calling the dog back in.
Retrieve 1 (Memory): The dog walks out at heel and sits at the marker, a dummy is thrown out in front by the handler, the dog returns to the start at heel then is sent for the retrieve.
Retrieve 2 (Double Mark): Two dummies are thrown at right angles to each other. The first dummy is to be picked by the dog – handler to choose which dummy, before sending the dog. The second dummy is picked by the handler.
Walk Up:  Two dogs, in line, at heel on the lead. Walk forward a few paces then stop, a dummy is thrown and the first dog is sent, the second dog must sit quietly, this is then repeated for the second dog.

Grade 3
Obedience: The dog walks out at heel to the 40 yard marker and is left on the stay command. The handler walks back to the start, waits 1 minute then calls the dog, the dog is stopped at a predetermined point on route, a dummy is then thrown to one side and the handler sends the dog for the dummy.
Retrieve 1 (Double Mark): Two dummies are thrown into light cover, both are to be retrieved by the dog, the assessor will nominate which dummy is to be retrieved first .
Retrieve 2 (Mark and Blind): A marked dummy is thrown at 60 yards into light cover, the dog is sent for the retrieve, as the dog is returning a second dummy is thrown into the same area, the dog is then sent for the blind.

Grade 4
Retrieve 1 (Blind): The dog is sent for a 50 yard blind retrieve from cover.
Retrieve 2 (Double Mark): One dummy is thrown over an obstacle, the second into cover, both dummies to be retrieved by the dog, the handler will nominate which dummy is to be retrieved first.
Retrieve 3 : A marked retrieve from water.
Steadiness: The dog is asked to sit next to the handler, a dummy is thrown and a second dog is sent past the sitting dog for the retrieve.
Walk Up: Two or three dogs in line with one mark and one blind for each dog.

Grade 5
Retrieve 1 (Mark and Blind):
A marked dummy in cover with a blind over an obstacle, both dummies to be collected by the dog, the blind to be retrieved first.
Retrieve 2 (Distraction): A marked dummy is thrown over an obstacle, the dog is sent for the retrieve, the distraction dummy is thrown as the dog is returning.
Retrieve 3 (Water Work): The dog is sent to collect a blind from over water.
Control: The dog is sent for a marked retrieve but is stopped (when requested by assessor) a second dummy is thrown, the dog is sent for the dummy as required by the assessor.

 All retrieves at grade 5 will be with shot.

Further Information
Each exercise will be marked out of 20, to achieve a pass, each exercise must have 14 out of 20. Marks will be deducted,
  • If, in the obedience exercises the dog moves without command or is unsteady at any time. 
  • Not retrieving to hand (with the exception of grade 1, where the dog must bring the dummy within 3 feet of the handler).
  • For barking or whining.
  • For overhandling.
  • For excessive use of voice or whistle . 
Also taken into account will be the speed style and natural hunting ability of the dog on retrieves and on water tests, the ability of the dog to enter water confidently and to swim reasonably well.
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