Have you ever dreamt of training your gundog to perform impressive retrieves or hunt alongside you like a pro? While those advanced skills are certainly something to strive for, many new dog owners underestimate the importance of foundational training.

In this episode of Found It , Fetched it , we’re joined by Claire Denyer and Jo Perrott, to delve into the world of foundational training and discover why it’s the cornerstone of a successful gundog journey.

Podcast Edition:

What is Foundational Training?

Foundational training goes beyond simply teaching basic obedience. It’s about building a strong foundation of manners and behaviours that will make your dog a well-adjusted companion both at home and in the field.

Think of it this way: foundational training is like the groundwork for a house. You wouldn’t build a dream home on a shaky foundation, would you? The same principle applies to your dog’s training. Without a solid foundation, more advanced skills can become unreliable and frustrating for both you and your dog.

For gundogs living in a home environment, foundational training might include:

Basic obedience commands: Sit, stay, come, down, basic retrieve, basic hunt
Lead manners: Walking politely on a lead without pulling
Crate training: Creating a safe and comfortable space for your dog
Manners in the home: Not jumping up, barking excessively, or stealing things

Why Foundational Training is Essential

While those flashy retrieves and hunting skills might seem more exciting, foundational training is the backbone of a well-trained gundog. Here’s why:

  • Solid Foundation for Advanced Skills: Imagine trying to build a complex structure on a weak foundation. It wouldn’t be very stable, would it? The same goes for dog training. Without foundational skills like good recall and heelwork, more advanced training becomes difficult and frustrating.
  • Natural Instincts Need Nurturing: Even breeds with strong natural hunting instincts benefit from foundational training. It helps refine their natural abilities and make them more controllable and reliable in the field.
  • Building a Strong Bond: The process of teaching foundational skills in a positive and rewarding way strengthens the bond between you and your dog. It fosters trust, respect, and a willingness to learn.

Jo Perrott emphasises this point perfectly: “You know, your house on sand might stand up probably at some point is gonna fall apart. So it’s really important that people get these foundational cues, these foundational behaviours inside and outside the house.”

Challenges and Overcoming Them

Let’s be honest, foundational training doesn’t always feel as glamorous as teaching your dog to fetch a bird. It can involve repetitive exercises and require patience from both you and your dog.

Here are some common challenges and tips for overcoming them:

  • Prioritising Fun Skills: Many dog owners get drawn to the flashier aspects of gundog training and neglect foundational skills.

Tip: Use a “poop sandwich” approach. Start with something fun and easy, then introduce the foundational training, and finish with another fun activity to keep your dog motivated.

  • Making it Manageable: Foundational training can seem overwhelming, especially for new dog owners.

Tip: Break down training into short, positive reinforcement sessions throughout the day. Consistency is key!

It’s a common misconception that foundational training is only for puppies. The truth is, even older dogs can benefit from revisiting the basics.

As Claire Denyer  discusses, ” So very often I get new clients come to me and John has the same. They might have a 2, 3, 4 yr old or maybe older dog than that. And they come to us and then there were issues in the training and we unpick everything and it’s like, well, actually the foundations aren’t solid. This is where we need to go.”



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Building a Well-Rounded Gundog

Foundational training extends beyond basic obedience. It also includes:

  • Handling: Teaching your dog to be comfortable with being touched and examined all over their body.
  • Restraint: Training your dog to be held still for procedures like nail trimming or vet checkups.
  • Muzzle Training: Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle comfortably in case of emergencies.

These skills might not seem glamorous, but they are essential for ensuring your dog’s safety and well-being throughout their life.


Foundational training is the bedrock of a successful gundog journey. It paves the way for a strong bond between you and your dog.


What’s Your Gundog Goddess Style?

Who’s ready for some extra fun? Discover your unique approach to training with our “Which Gundog Goddess Are You?” quiz. You don’t want to miss this one

Click Here To Take The Quiz

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