It can be a little daunting for those new to scurry competitions to step into the box for the first time, but it needn’t be. Everyone watching wants you to do well and will cheer enthusiastically whether your dog makes the perfect retrieve or stops halfway to answer the call of nature. The gundog community is welcoming and supportive, so just relax and enjoy yourself. But to help build your confidence, we’ve approached some of the UK’s best recognised scurry handlers and gundog trainers to give their top tips for summer scurry success.
Howard Kirby – Mullenscoate Gundogs. The most important skill to master for scurry success is getting your dog to stop on the whistle. Once you have the dogs undivided attention, you can deliver clear instructions and build confidence. Get the stop whistle right and you’re in with a chance. But this requires practice and patience. Do not allow your dog to ignore the stop whistle as they will become ‘deaf’ to it. Remember, always reward your dog for stopping. This can be either praise or perhaps a treat and helps to reinforce this critical behaviour.
Brody Chequer – Gundog Championship winner 2013 & 2018. Firstly, remember, there’s nothing to worry about. For non-competitive scurries no one is judging you, so have fun and enjoy the experience. All the top handlers went through the exact same thing when they started, it just takes time, patience and practice. On the return run, encourage your dog to come back at a faster speed. You don’t necessarily need to make lots of noise with your voice or whistle just crouch low, offer open arms and gentle praise.
Shannon Hartree – Elite Scurry Competitor. At the end of your scurry always end on a positive. If something goes wrong part way through or towards the end, it doesn’t matter, and you want to keep the experience fun. Take your dog to a quiet area and practice a simple ‘sit and stay’ walk away and back to your dog, or perhaps a straight out and back seen retrieve. Be sure to give a reward at the end of the session and you’ll be ready to go again next time. If you overwork or put unnecessary pressure on your dog, you will risk taking away their enjoyment, which will inevitably slow them down.