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The Pointer and their training needs

05/03/2022 - Breed Specific Advice

The English Pointer and their training needs

The history of the English Pointer is much debated – but we do know that they are an old breed. One theory is that Spanish Pointers were brought to England in the early 1700s, with others suggesting that Portugese Pointers, Bracco Italianos and French Pointers may be the breed’s predecessors and even Greyhounds, Setters, Bloodhounds and Foxhounds may have been involved. Dogs breeds were not as distinctly categorised in those times, being characterised more by “type” than one specific lineage. Although it is difficult to pin down their exact origin, recorded mentions of Pointers in England date back to as early as 1713. Bred specifically for the job of pointing, and not to retrieve, Pointers differ from many other gundog breeds in that they work much more independently and are prone to roaming further from their handlers than many of their colleagues.

Average Lifespan: 13-14 years
Height: 24-27 inches (61-69cm)
Weight: 45-75lbs (20-34kg)
Temperament: extremely active; intelligent; aloof; even-tempered; strong-willed

Training Needs at Different Life Stages

Puppyhood
During puppyhood, our focus should be on our pup’s socialisation and building their confidence. Socialisation is not just about exposing our dogs to lots of things, people and dogs thoughtlessly – it should be about ensuring they are not overwhelmed, have positive experiences of all these things and learn how to be calm, relaxed and confident around them.
While some Pointers of show-lines may be more well suited to a pet dog home, Pointers are typically accepted as being incredibly high-energy, prey-driven hunting dogs. It is common to see young puppies pointing as early as 2 months of age. Their intelligence, independence and boundless energy makes training from a young age vital to ensure these wilful dogs learn the right lessons and don’t find their own entertainment! Our Dogversity courses are the perfect way to start pup off on the right foot and show them how fun working with their humans can be! Our Puppy’s First Steps course includes information on many common puppy problems such as puppy biting, food manners and socialisation.
Pointers are bred to roam far and work very independently, using their natural instincts to guide them. For this reason, they are known for being somewhat aloof and it’s therefore wise for a new Pointer owner to take the time to ensure they have a solid working relationship with their new family member. Group classes are a great place to start getting your puppy used to being around other dogs in a controlled environment and learning how to stay engaged and focused on you, as well as instilling a solid training foundation before they have a chance to learn any bad habits!
Our Impulse Control course is perfect for helping your Pointer learn how to manage themselves around distractions – this is an integral skill if we want to allow our dog to safely enjoy their time off the lead. Your pup will need some training experience before attending this course, but it’s worth speaking to your trainer about when you can sign up, as this is a vital skill for a dog with such a strong hunting background.

Adolescence
Adolescence can be a trying time, both for us and our dogs. Our dogs are still growing and their perceptions and feelings will change as their hormone levels rise. Often, training we thought we had perfected a while ago can start to deteriorate – a reliable recall can become, well, less reliable. This is completely normal, and the best thing we can do is acknowledge this and focus on revising the foundations we worked so hard on during puppyhood.
It can be disheartening to have to pop that longline back on our dogs after months of carefree off-lead walks, but life will become a lot harder if we allow our teenage dogs to practice running off after wildlife or up to every dog they see! You will get back to those idyllic walks soon; as long as you are patient, and remember this important step!
Now is a good time to consider a Masterclass, such as our Ultimate Recall course, to brush up on those important life skills!
As we’ve mentioned already, our Pointers are an independent hunting breed – bred for a job and well aware of it! Giving such a highly-strung breed an outlet for these inbuilt behaviours is vital to ensuring a happy, content dog who is able and willing to listen to their human. A lack of such outlets will result in a frustrated dog who will find their own way to express these behaviours – which may mean running the other way while you call them!
Bred to use their noses to seek out game, our Scent Detectives course is perfect for this driven breed. And, with the basics established in your Puppy Classes, you can start looking into attending our fun gundog classes – yes, even for your pet dogs! Even show-bred Pointers will still have a strong hunting instinct, even if they are not destined to be working dogs. 

1 Year Old
This is when your troublesome teen will be reaching physical maturity and you can start to consider more physically demanding activities, such as agility. The solid training you have done over the past year will make it easy to transition into training more for fun than just for practicality – engaged dogs who can work with their human off lead are halfway to Crufts already!
You can also start refining some of the basic training you’ve been working on so far, as your dog starts to mature mentally, too. Now is not the time to slow down – you’ve worked hard to instil these good behaviours and habits and we want to ensure these lessons stay with our Pointers for life. They may be maturing, but they’re still relatively young and full of energy – it’s important we continue to keep their minds busy and provide plenty of outlets for their behaviours so they don’t go and find less acceptable alternatives. Our Advanced Classes are perfect for continuing their education and keeping them busy!

2+ Years Old
You’ve been a dedicated dog owner for the last 24 months, investing time and effort into their ongoing education and development – by now, you should be starting to see the result of all that hard work in the form of an engaged, well-rounded companion. Hopefully those vital foundations that we spent so much time focusing on are starting to feel less like work!
Your clever four-legged friend has dutifully learned everything you’ve imparted on them, and now it’s important that we don’t forget to reward them with continued mental enrichment. We showed them how much fun training could be and, while we may now have reached our own personal training aspirations, they deserve to continuing experiencing the joy of using their nose, brain and body to navigate the world and learn new things.
Activities such as Trick Training are great ways to keep making the most of our precious time with our four-legged friends. For those of you who got stuck into scent training and saw how much your pup loved it, you can look to continue learning together and see just how impressive their noses are with our advanced Scent Work Course.

OAP (7+ Years)
As our pups reach their golden years, their needs will change. It’s important we remember to adjust their physical activity to suit their health. This will be different for every dog and doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down – many dogs continue to be active until very late in their lives and it can in fact be beneficial to keep our dogs moving to stave off muscle degeneration and general loss of fitness and mobility. Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour, noting if they are less keen to head out on your longer walking route or seem a bit stiff the next day. Speak with your vet for advice if you are unsure what level of exercise is right for your dog.
Cognitive exercises like puzzle games and scent work are great ways to continue providing your dog with fun enrichment without being too physically demanding. 
 

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