The original purpose of gundog training is to produce a dog that helps to put food on the table.
Our gundog breeds all play a role in either the collection of shot game, or in finding game for the hunter to shoot. Some breeds combine these roles.
To achieve this purpose, the gundog training process harnesses the inborn characteristics of the gundog into a useful and productive behaviour.
Gundogs have some strong instincts. These instincts encourage the gundog to hunt the scent of ‘prey’ animals, and to pursue those animals when they attempt to escape.
However, these instincts are really only helpful to the gundog’s human companions when they have been modified through training.
A completely untrained gundog is unlikely to make a useful ‘team-mate’ on any kind of hunting expedition.
And as many pet gundog owners discover, the urge to hunt and chase small animals can be quite a liability in the countryside if the dog is allowed free rein with his powerful instincts
In addition to preserving in our gundogs these natural instincts that served their ancestors so well, we have also bred into our gundog breeds some specific and useful behaviours.
The ability to suppress the urge to bite down on a prey animal, to carry it gently for example, is something gundog breeders have carefully selected for.
Breeders have also selected gundogs for a temperament which is highly co-operative and biddable, especially in our retriever breeds. Many of which also have a natural tendency to return to their handler with a retrieved object.
Controlling gundog behaviour
Gundogs are now the most popular pet dogs in the western world. Gundog training enables the gundog owner to control the dog’s instincts and harness them into a useful activity.
Perhaps even more importantly it enables the pet gundog owner to translate all that energy and drive into a happy relationship based on co-operation and fun.
So whilst the point of gundog training was originally to produce dogs that helped to put food on the table, in our modern world it plays an even wider and arguably more important role.
That of helping our pet gundogs become good canine citizens and happy, well balanced family members.