You might imagine working homes would be ideal for these working dogs, but we do not place our dogs in working homes and here is why…
Gundogs are expected to be well trained and need to be under close control whilst working, so many people enlist the help of trainers. These gundog trainers typically do not have the qualifications we recommend (We recommend looking for trainers that hold qualifications from one or more of these institutes.. ABPC– Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, IMDT– Institute of Modern Dog Trainers, CAPBT– COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers, APDT– Association of Pet Dog Trainers).
Many gundog trainers are used to working with well socialised well-bred young dogs, their methods may not be suitable for rescue dogs and some trainers still use aversive methods, like slip leads. Our dogs are typically initially insecure and understandably nervous of new things. They have missed out on socialisation and may have previously received harsh treatment. All training should be done with the aim of increasing confidence and trust in their adopter, working with positive reinforcement and ensuring the dog is having fun as he learns.
Slip leads train a dog to walk nicely because it hurts the dog if he pulls, the same is true of haltis and other head collars. This is an aversive training method and may dent the confidence of the dog. It may also make him more nervous of meeting new dogs and increase the likelihood of reactivity, anxiety, lunging, barking, growling. Slip leads are often used on working dogs with no collars. This is done so the dog does not get caught in the undergrowth but also means there is no way to attach a dog tag which is a legal requirement. A loose collar (or harness) with dog tag should always be worn and the dog will try to back out of the collar it gets caught, this also means the dog will be more easily reunited with you if ever lost.
Most of our dogs will be insecure initially, they may try their best to please you and stay close, as they will quickly realise you are the source of shelter and food in this new world they have arrived in. Many dogs will initially show good recall and no great tendency to wander, however never take this for granted. The honeymoon period, as we call it, may last weeks or many months depending on the dog. However at some stage your dog will trust you enough to stay put and wait for him, and he will give in to the temptation to chase something away from you. It may seem so out of character for your dog, if they have always stayed close, but it will probably happen. This is why we recommend long lines and secure dog fields. Activities such as cani-cross, man-trailing, agility, scent work, rally and trick training can all be done safely on lead or in secure areas. Activities like these help build trust between your dog and you, and can help general behaviour indirectly as well as being great fun for you both.