Gun dog / family pet - what would you recommend?

(35 Posts)
eightytwenty Thu 17-Oct-13 17:30:12

I have agreed in principle to us getting a gun dog as my dh shoots during the season. However I would very much appreciate your advise about breed, timing and training...

About us - 3 dc, ds1 9 (scared of dogs), ds2 nearly 7 and dd1 nearly 3. I work from home most of the time so should be able to do do two short day time walls / 1 longer walk every day (the latter either over lunch or by dh before or after work). We have a large (for a city) garden and a park very close by.

What would you suggest in terms of:

- breed (dh thinking working cocker - but have read a few threads indicating they might not be the best breed for nervous kids & wonder whether they would need more exercise than we'd be looking to give)
- timing (I am saying not until dc3 is 4) - does that sound about right?
- training (dh wants it to be trained to the gun, which apparently takes a minimum of 12 weeks, so we'd miss the early puppy stage... But I'm not sure whether we'd get a dog that would then be house trained/ trained to the lead etc...

Neither of us have owned dogs before so want to do as much research as possible.

Thanks!

blue2 Thu 17-Oct-13 22:43:23

Where are you based eighty? i would strongly suggest you train the dog yourself with a trainer, and not send it off for months to another trainer. It costs a bomb, and I've heard of some real disasters....

If you can get to Ripley, just off the A3, then I know just the lady for you. She'll train you (not the dog!!) on basic obedience up to one year old, then start to specialise in the gun dog side of things.

FWIW, we have a working cocker who is now 7. I guess it wasn't until she was about 3 that I felt confident working her, so its a long time to wait and to train. We let things slide in the summer, and about August, I start to walk her further and with the whistle etc

Look carefully into the background of any puppy - lots of ancestral Field Trial Champions in their bloodline will help. You need a dog whose marbles are in the right orbit from the word 'go'.

eightytwenty Fri 18-Oct-13 07:55:19

Not near the a3 sadly.

Had wondered about whether I could incorporate my exercise into the dogs exercise. I run and cycle, though the latter always looks terrifying for the rider and the dog (I even saw some crazy guy on a busy road with his dog attached to a lead!).

Guessing garden will be more for morning and night toileting than having a real run around.

Awks Fri 18-Oct-13 09:58:34

We've had 2 working cockers and our second one, Jarvis is nearly 5 months. Both our dogs have been gorgeous. Friendly, chilled, fun-loving. I think they are perfect family dogs. Our first one didnt make the grade as a gundog and we adopted him after that .

I work from home too and both dogs have been brilliant company. ours has 1 long off lead run a day and 1 on lead half hour walk (off lead if its not dark).

Gingersstuff Fri 18-Oct-13 11:31:41

Does your husband work, OP, or will he have lots of spare time to work/train the dog? Because on re-reading your OP and seeing that you've never owned a dog before, I'm now thinking that:
working from home + 3 small kids (one of whom you will have to put a lot of work into to get over his fear of dogs) + new dog owner + plus high-maintainence working gun dog + city = a bit of a disaster really.
Honestly, any new dog owner - just pets, mind, not for working - always, ALWAYS underestimates how much work a puppy/young dog/rescue/any dog can be. It is seriously like having another baby on some ways. I would seriously have a good think about whether you can cope/have the time for this much upheaval. If it were me, I'd be going for a much more gentle intro to dog owning than the one you're currently planning.

CrotchStitch Sat 19-Oct-13 23:30:42

Some good advice given but some quite frankly dodgy advice as well IMO....
Your DH shoots in a syndicate and wants a gundog? Is this as a beating dog that can also pick up or a peg dog to retrieve only? In other words does he beat one drive and shoot the next or is he shooting all day and then beating another?
What and where does he shoot? Some breeds are unsuitable for certain terrains and shoots (I would love a pointer but our shoots have dense terrain and are too small for the long ranging hunting that a pointer is bred for so sadly, no pointers for me sad)
As mentioned above a working dog will not enter the field until a year old at the bare minimum. Our cockers learn from each other and are from good working lines so really need pointing in the right direction and polishing WRT what we require of them, the basics are already there but it still takes a lot if work to get to a point where you can trust them.
Sending a dog away is a mighty costly procedure an frankly only works if the handler has a good understanding of their dog in the first place as well as the willingness to listen to and learn from the trainer. Quite frankly unless you are filthy rich or require a dog to work impeccably at trials or one of the big prestigious shoots you are better buying several good books, going to regular training classes and having a crack at training the dog yourself with the occasional help of a professional trainer or club when appropriate.

As others have pointed out your situation is not ideal for the type of dog ownership you are proposing. Had you and DH considered having a pet dog that you then trained to accompany him on shoot days? IME this leads to a lot less pressure on you all (the dog included) means the dog is a family pet first and foremost and a gundog in the season. Quite frankly the number of days your DH would be able to shoot as a syndicate member is so small that having a designated gundog seems a little like overkill to me. Even show bred dogs with good training can make quite reasonable gundogs for someone in your DHs position.

CrotchStitch Sat 19-Oct-13 23:33:31

Oh also if you are planning on using the local park this will be entirely unsuitable for training a gundog puppy. You will need access to the sort of land the puppy will be expected to work on. Would your husband have the opportunity to use the syndicate land for training out of season?

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 20-Oct-13 17:41:51

Just rereading my post and I didn't make it clear that yes, you can start basic training as soon as possible but your dog won't be ready to work until it's a couple of years old. Sorry for any confusion.

Gorran Mon 21-Oct-13 22:23:39

Echo CrotchStitch. We have a lab (shock horror, a chocolate one - and she's shaping up to be a bloody good gundog, unheard of;-)) who is first and foremost a family pet, but my husband also shoots and just fancied gundog training. She's doing really well - but is only 18m and is yet to actually 'work' though has done scurries etc. Gundog training is very good fun if nothing else.

DramaAlpaca Mon 21-Oct-13 22:43:35

We have two working springers who are also house pets and trained to the lead. They are boisterous, but fine as long as they get lots of exercise, and they are good with children. I think our youngest was four when we got our first one.

DH does a lot of rough shooting, not organised shoots, and springers are perfect for this. We always get them as pups & they are firstly house trained, then given basic obedience training, and only when the dog has mastered this does he move on to specific gundog training. He doesn't start serious training to the gun until they are around two years of age, and he will take a young one out with an experienced one to help the young one learn. They are trained to whistles & hand signals. It is possible to teach this yourself very effectively using a book, consistency and a lot of patience.

I think the breed of dog you should get will depend on what type of shooting your DH will be doing. Springers are designed to flush game in the field and then bring it back to you, so are ideal for rough shooting. Labs, for example, are used more as retrievers during an organised shoot. Springers are better than cockers in really rough country (like where we live) as they have shorter ears & smoother hair - less likely to get tangled in briars!

eightytwenty Wed 23-Oct-13 21:43:38

More brilliant information thank you.

It is rough shooting, with one weekend away where they go somewhere a bit smarter.

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