Pet Trained Labrador or Spaniel

At Glasybont Gundogs, we often hear from clients who comment: I don’t want a super one like yours, as long as it is good with the wife and kids, comes back when called, is steady to distractions and livestock, great with other dogs, sleeps in front of the fire of an evening and is a pleasure to have out walking perfectly at my heel.

Up until recently, if a client was looking to buy the dog described in the opening paragraph, they would have struggled to source one. This is because good, working type gundogs, which for 90 per cent of their life are family pets need to have a controlled environment in their early months to ensure that their development facilitates the type of behaviours that we desire in adult life from our family canine companions. We often refer to it as kinder garden to prevent the terrible twos and hormonal teenage years!

To be clear, these are not re-homed or rescued dogs that have been re trained over a short period. These are bespoke bred and trained dogs to meet your individual specification.

It all starts with the right breeding. The parentage needs to be right. At Glasybont we look for dams and sires which are relaxed and seek to be with humans. What were their relatives like further up the family tree? Style, drive and speed are less important; we do not want to breed from highly strung parents which burst out of the kennel or dog box like a child which has eaten too many blue Smarties. These types are not suitable for the vast majority of people. Relaxed and steady dogs at home will move up a gear or two in the shooting field or on an exciting family day out. Overexcited dogs at home will be a handful or out of control once in a new exciting environment.

Of course, the breed of dog best suited to an individual’s lifestyle and personality is worthy of consideration before choosing a puppy. Labradors have long been regarded as the more docile of the gundog breeds – and for good reason – whilst spaniels have a reputation for being more energetic, and HPRs, pointers and setters, a little more head-strong.

The environment to which the new pup is introduced and subsequently grows up and lives in is key. The ground rules should be established before the pup arrives. At Glasybont we request that prospective owners create a ‘life’ diary which helps us understand how best your new companion can and should fit in with your day to day activities, as well as any changes that you are planning in your family dynamics. Be absolutely honest about aspirations, experience, the family and how it functions. The training program can then be tailored to the owner’s circumstances.

Remember, the primary objective here is to produce a well-behaved dog which slots perfectly into the owner’s life. When the young pup arrives, it needs to get used to its new home as soon as possible. And it should spend as much time with its owner as is feasible in order to develop a strong bond from day one.

Patience is a virtue which the dog must possess. It should grow up knowing no different. Patience should be practiced from the outset – whether waiting for food, waiting to go through doors, or waiting to jump out of the boot of the car. All Glasybont gundogs follow foundation training which provides the ideal basis from which to progress, whilst remembering the all-important basics of gundog training.

In its early days, the dog should be taught the habit of tuning-in and listening to the owner, and this consistency should remain for the rest of the family. A calm and positive environment makes for a calm and happy dog.

I find the most level-headed dogs tend to be those which are with their owners as much as possible. They become accustomed to much more from a young age. They learn that trips in the car or away from the house are part of a typical day, and not something to get too excited about.

A dog with any working blood running through its veins will have energy to expend if it has been sat in a crate or on its bed all day – that should be expected – and all dogs need stimulation to keep boredom at bay. Exercise should be relaxed, with the owner’s objective being to keep the dog’s attention on him or her. He or she should always be the centre of attention.

The key to moulding a dog into both an easy-going family pet and the perfect partner in life is more than just a training programme. It’s a way of life for the dog which keeps it on an even keel and encourages it to adopt a different mindset to the traditional gundog. If this mindset is nurtured correctly, the whole family can enjoy the company of a true friend, by the fireside and in life.

To train a pet trained dog for a family, we start from the breeding and would expect to have a hand over against the agreed training goals between 6-8 months of age.