21 August 2020


Training your gundog to work in water with Howard Kirby

There’s no doubt ‘water work’ is one of the more exciting aspects of gundog training — but it’s an area where many can encounter obstacles and problems. With the warmer weather now in full swing, it’s the ideal time to get brushed up on those water work skills!

We have caught up with renowned gundog trainer, and Chudleys ambassador, Howard Kirby for his top tips for training your dog in water. Howard says: “If you are going to work your dog in the Shooting Field then having a dog that is experienced at dealing with game in and around Water is incredibly useful. If you wish to compete with them, with the exception of the Pointers and Setters, water work will be essential.”

TIP 1:

“Here at our training centre, Mullenscote, we try to co-ordinate the arrival of a pup with the Spring and Summer months. The warm, dry weather makes house training and life in general with a puppy much easier. On hot days, we put out a water tray encouraging the youngster to play and even retrieve things out of the water. Clearly, he is not swimming but the pup is learning to enjoy water in a controlled, safe environment.

“If you’ve ever played ‘apple bobbing', grabbing something with your mouth out of water is, at best, tricky. The use of the water tray will help to develop this simple but important skill.”

TIP 2:

"Using water trays and shallow streams, we can encourage and build a youngster's confidence in the water. You will need to carefully select an area of water that offers safe pools and the opportunity for the pup to just get its feet off the ground for a few strokes of swimming. Once this has been achieved and the puppy is keen and confident, stand in the shallows with the puppy and throw a small dummy a short distance away from you. Ensure you encourage a nice, clean return and delivery to hand.

“Remember — most delivery problems usually come as a result of the dog wanting to shake the water from its coat as it leaves the water so this is less likely if you are in the water with the pup."

As always if you are unsure about how to best support your dog nutritionally, don’t hesitate to speak to your vet if you would like further advice on feeding your working dog, the Chudleys nutritional helpline is open 8:30am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Please call 01832 737 300 and we’ll be happy to help.

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