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Are Young Gundogs Being Pushed Too Hard Too Early?

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Black Labrador with Training Dummy

These days everything in life seems to be a competition, and it doesn't seem to stop when it comes to our dogs, people always want to compare and 'one-up' each other, but are our working dogs suffering due to this race to be the best?

A recent article in the Veterinary Times highlighted a study completed in December 2016 which looked at the load distribution in Labradors when carrying different weights - in other words, how retrieving varying sizes of dummies (and therefore game) can affect the limbs.

The study concluded that the carrying of weights, even those as low as 0.5kg (approx 1lb), affected the weight distribution across the limbs, which likely produces stress on the forelimb joints.

This, perhaps, will be unsurprising to most of you, but how many of you really take this into consideration when training and working your dogs? Too many times I see very young dogs being trained straight onto 1lb dummies; as a percentage of their weight this is a far greater load on the puppy's developing joints than it is for the adult dogs that this study was considering. And that's not to mention the number of dogs that are encouraged to pick game at far too young an age, both as a one-off in training or doing a full day on the shoot repeatedly picking birds.

We all want what is best for our dogs and if we can reduce the stress on them by modifying the tools that we use in training our youngsters and the amount of work that we burden our adult dogs with, surely that can only be a good thing. We all want our dogs to lead long and healthy lives doing what we and they both love.

Original article from the Veterinary Times

To read the full study, please visit:


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