menu search

Training & Behaviour

Diary of a Gundog Trainer: August

When the shooting season came to an end on 1st February I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had thoroughly enjoyed the season but both the dogs and I were tired and I was looking forward to a quiet summer when I could spend quality time walking and training my dogs and catching up on all the chores that were stacking up. How wrong I was! It’s been a very busy six months and already I am starting to get us all fit again ready for our first day in October.

Group photo of all the dogs


I have had to make the very painful decision to retire my 13½ year old bitch - Saffron. I was lucky enough to take her on a few days last season but her eyesight and hearing have deteriorated and she is bit wobbly on her hind legs. She still enjoys a short walk and loves going out in the truck and she is always first in the queue for her meal. We have managed to keep her fit and well up to now by using a senior light meal and to help her aches she has a slow releasing pain killer called Trocoxil once a month. Enjoy a long and happy retirement Saffron. 



Booza is now 9 years old. He had a major operation three months ago to remove a 3.8kg growth on his spleen. Fortunately it was benign and he has made very good progress and is back to his normal self. We have had many long debates about insurance. We decided that with plus of 6 dogs it really isn’t viable for us but at this point in time I wonder if I made the right decision as my bank balance suffered badly. I would always advise anyone with just 1 or 2 dogs to take out insurance and for those of us with many more you do need to have a substantial amount put away for the unforeseen vet bill. 

Pimms and Beetle

Pimms and Beetle have enjoyed the summer relaxing in the garden recharging their batteries. When I wrote my last article Scrumpy was about a year old. I have had a lot of fun training her and she proved to be very calm on the shooting field and became a valuable member of my team. At just over 2 years old I am considering breeding from her and am hoping she will come into season very soon.


Kayla is my latest puppy, a daughter of Beetle. She is a “live wire” and keeps me on my toes. She is very quick and I did need a new pair of trainers to keep up with her at one point. She carries toys around constantly and wants to work all the time. She is very willing to learn and reminds me of Booza when he was young. She would train all day long and never get bored. I have to train her very differently from Scrumpy who finds dummies boring. I suspect that I shall have to take Kayla very slowly once we start picking up as too many retrieves would be likely to blow her brain. I did take her out once last season where she sat and watched the day at a distance. Kayla reminds me of being the youngest child in a large family – me, me, me – I can do it all by myself!


Kayla and her beloved ringsKayla by the door

Kayla with her beloved rings                                Kayla at 4 months old

August so far

In the tent

As I said earlier I have had a very busy summer. Aside from training my own dogs I have been involved in helping various people and their dogs with puppy socialisation, obedience training and several have been interested in progressing onto gundog training. I have had a variety of breeds, mainly labradors, springer spaniels, cocker spaniels and 1 gordon setter.

It’s interesting to see how the different dogs work and react to the training. It’s very obvious to me that many owners do not get the dogs properly under control in the first 6 months or so. By the time the dog is a year old it’s hard to correct the bad habits such as pulling on the lead and not recalling when asked.

I was very pleased to be asked to do a gundog demonstration this summer. Steven with his cocker, Woody and Jason with his springer, and Willow joined me and we had a lot of fun training. Dan was our dummy thrower and Ret did the tanoy.

As you can see from the following couple of photos the dogs really enjoyed all the attention they received from the crowds. The weather was typical of what we can expect in England but we were lucky enough to escape the showers and the shows appeared to be well attended the tannoy.  All our dogs are essentially family pets as well as working gundogs.

Performing in a ring surrounded by lots of people eating hog roasts was a new situation for them to be in. They did well and caused plenty of entertainment. Booza couldn’t quite help himself and decided the hog roast was a far better bet then a smelly old dummy!

Accessories: View the Muddy Paws range of training products.


Springer spaniel being trainedSpringer spanielWoody

In the meantime, let me know what you think in the comments below. I would like to thank Greg Knight – for the use of some of his photos. 

Nicola Grellis

Based in East Devon, Nicola Grellis has an enviable reputation as one of the countries leading experts on breeding and training gun dogs. With more than thirty years experience, her dogs are trained to field trial standard. Visit Nicola’s website to find out more.

Nicola Grellis

blog comments powered by Disqus