Is Gun Dog Training Cruel?

Gun dogs have been used for centuries to aid their owners with hunting. These dogs are highly intelligent animals that are loyal through and through. However, the efficacy of the gun dog training methods has now been called into question. So, is gun dog training cruel?

Gun dog training can be unethical and inhumane if you follow the old and traditional gun dog training methods. However, many training methods exist today that are far more ethical, and you can get the same results with your gun dog when you use them persistently and consistently.

Why did people begin to think that gun dog training was cruel after centuries of it happening? What are some other methods that gun dogs are now being trained with? Let us go through everything you need to know about this controversial topic.

Why Do People Think Gun Dog Training Is Cruel?

Many people in the world consider gun dog training to be a cruel pastime, which can be for a good reason. Unfortunately, some very concerning accounts have popped up around particular gun dog trainers that are not for the faint-hearted.

There have been reports from witnesses who thought they would have a nice training session with their dog and other gun dog owners, but they ended up being horrified at what they were told and what they witnessed.

Many of them have been quoted saying that the gun dog trainers told them the best way to train their dog is by kicking it, hitting it, or even in some cases, biting the dog and using an electric collar.

Some of these witnesses have also claimed to have seen gun dogs being dangled by their leads like a noose or dragged by their ears, with some other dogs yelping in pain while they were beaten into submission and silence.

If these claims are true, then these acts committed by these specific gun dog trainers in the accounts are indeed very cruel, and they should be stopped and banned from the sport immediately. It is gun dog trainers like these that give the public a negative view of dog training.

However, these awful trainers do not represent all the gun dog trainers throughout the entire sport. There are some really lovely gun dog trainers out there that really do adore their gun dogs and would never harm them.

These trainers will take the utmost care to train their gun dogs and ensure that the dogs are healthy, happy and that they are well looked after.

Even some questionable traditional training techniques that are now outdated are avoided by these trainers so that their dogs are safe and protected during the training.

How Are Modern Gun Dogs Trained?

Many gun dog trainers have left the traditional gun dog training ways behind them and have replaced them with a more modern and ethical training practice. These gun dog trainers acknowledge that some of the traditional training techniques could have been labeled cruel and should be left in the past.

In these modern times, some gun dog trainers have developed some highly ethical and humane training methods under the Positive gun dog group that still gives your gun dog a top-notch training session but without any questionable actions involved. Let us go through this gun dog training method in more detail.

Training A Positive Gun Dog

The group that is called Positive Gun Dog is a group that aims to support as well as encourage people to train their gun dogs using minimal force in the training session. When they use the label positive gun dog to identify a dog, this is just simply a way to inform people that the dog is trained using positive reinforcement.

The trainers that train their gun dogs using positive reinforcement use techniques that are founded in behavioral science. So, the “positive” in the positive gun dog label has nothing to do with emotions, and there is no judgment in the training process.

The reinforcement part of this equation means that you are doing something that will make the gun dog more likely to repeat its behavior later on. With this positive reinforcement method of training, you are always adding something to the gun dog’s environment to encourage the behaviors that you want.

This does mean that in this training method, there is no punishment in any way, as it seeks to reward good behaviors instead. If the gun dog exhibits a behavior that is not wanted, then, in this method, you will enact something called positive punishment.

Positive punishment involves you doing something that the dog will find just unpleasant enough that they will stop what they are doing. For some dogs, this can be something as little as a hard stare.

This method of gun dog training is aiming to be a force-free training technique; however, this may not work on every gun dog, and it will have to take on a dog-by-dog basis. Some gun dogs may just take advantage of this method as they are highly intelligent animals.

If this method does not work, then a combination of training methods may be needed. This will be a mixture of the good parts of the traditional training and some of the techniques used in the positive gun dog training.

Do Gun Dogs Enjoy Being Gun Dogs?

We as are human, we cannot try and determine what dogs do and do not enjoy, but if we take it from the looks on the gun dogs faces when they are out on a hunt waiting for their owners to give them the signal, then it definitely looks like they enjoy it.

The way these dogs focus and wait and then sprint as fast as they can to their prize when they get the command, it sure does seem like pure joy.


Gun dog training can be cruel if it is done the wrong way, using the old and traditional training methods that are now considered slightly unethical and inhumane. However, plenty of training methods exist in modern times that are far more ethical and get you the same results with your gun dog.


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