Life after lockdown

Shooting Times & Country|June 17, 2020

Life after lockdown
The COVID-19 crisis may have strengthened the bond between you and your dogs, writes Ellena Swift, but now’s the time to plan ahead
Ellena Swift

This has been an unusual time for all of us in pretty much every aspect of our lives and dog training is no exception. In some ways lockdown has helped in that people now have more time to spend with their dogs. However, given that most were unable to leave their homes and take their dogs anywhere, much of the training people normally do has been seriously curtailed.

I am lucky in that I have plenty of ground to continue training on, but even I have to admit that the repetitive nature of what I’ve been able to do has led to me and my pack becoming a little flat. Normally, at this time of year, I would be travelling up and down the country spending time with lots of different people who have access to varied ground, which keeps me and the dogs fresh. But this, of course, hasn’t been possible until very recently.

Fortunately, through all of this the gundog community has been able to rely on other trainers’ expertise, utilising the power of social media. Trainers have been uploading training videos, challenges and tutorials, and some gundog clubs have put on online working tests for retrievers, spaniels and HPRs. These have been a breath of fresh air for all of us desperate to get out and about but they aren’t quite the same. Finally, in the past few weeks, we have been able to travel a little again. Granted group training is still not going ahead yet but slowly grounds are opening their doors for one to ones.

My previous article focused on our own knowledge as handlers. Now restrictions have been eased, I truly hope everyone is using their time with their dogs to put theory into practice.

It now appears, thankfully, that life is slowly returning back to some sort of normality. This is going to be a big challenge for us but we shouldn’t underestimate how much of a challenge this will be for our dogs.

Now is the time to start instilling a sense of routine and creating a bit of distance from your dog, ahead of going back to work and not being in the house all the time, as has been the case in recent months.

Premium bond

A dog and handler relationship is relatively delicate. I have spoken in previous articles about the importance of bond. This is an invaluable training aid and leads to trust and confidence from both parties. However, a dog can become too close to its owner. With the lockdown even older dogs are now becoming used to their owners being home and around all the time. Whilst they will undoubtedly enjoy it, it does not necessarily do them any good.

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June 17, 2020