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A day in the life of a Working Gundog




Meet Molly! Molly is an 8-year-old cocker spaniel who is a much-loved pet and companion for our Canine Nutritionist Dr Jacqueline Boyd.

During the summer months, Molly spends most of her weekends training and competing in agility and has even reached the highest level of agility competition possible in the UK – grade 7. She has also gained her Silver Agility Warrant, meaning she can have the letters AWS after her registered, “posh” name!

During the winter months however, Molly swaps from agility dog to gundog. On average she works 2 to 3 days per week from October to February, either beating or picking up alongside her fellow “cocker in crime”, Bobbi.

When Molly goes beating, she works with a team of other dogs and people, the beaters, to hunt for and flush game; typically pheasant and partridge. This means lots of high energy bashing through brambles and undergrowth meaning Molly must use her sense of smell and athletic capacity throughout the day.

Picking-up on the other hand is when Molly is tasked with the responsibility of finding and retrieving shot game. This is a hugely important task to ensure all game is collected quickly and humanely, requiring a fit dog who can occasionally problem solve well!

 

Fuelling Molly’s activities is important for these jobs, so what does a day in the life of Molly as a working gundog look like?

5:30amBreakfast - Molly goes out for a quick wee and then gets a breakfast meal of Field and Trial Superior before she goes back to bed for an hour. Feeding at least 2-3 hours before she starts her hard work means she can digest her food effectively and have time to empty her bowels beforehand.
7:15amWalk - Molly and her fellow spaniels go for a 20 minute walk to allow them all to toilet and get moving before the day starts. It also keeps all the dogs in the house to their normal walking routine!
8:00amTravel - Molly is lifted into her travel crate in the truck and gets driven to her workplace for the day, which is typically 20-45 mins away.
9:30amWork - The dogs get a chance to meet and greet friends, both human and canine. Molly starts work; if she is beating, she will be working in the beating line alongside other dogs and the beaters, hunting and flushing game. If she is picking up, she will wait with her handler, watching the proceedings and marking where birds fall. Once safe to do so, Molly will then retrieve the birds one by one to her hander.
11:00amBreak - Elevenses; a chance for dogs and handlers to have a quick drink and a small snack to keep them fuelled. Handlers often have sausage rolls, soup, pasties or similar. Many dogs will also get to share these human snacks (sometimes intentional, sometimes not!). Molly is given a small amount (about 20-30g) of Field and Trial Muesli Mix and offered a drink of fresh clear water.
11:30amMolly will start work again either beating or picking up. She loves both tasks and undertakes them with typical cocker spaniel enthusiasm. So much so that towards the end of the season, Molly’s handler has to start planning her “boot camp” for when the season ends, to remind Molly what basic commands and her whistle actually mean!
13:00pmLunchtime - Molly gets offered a drink of fresh, clean water, is towel dried and checked all over for any cuts, scratches, burrs. She then gets her coat on to keep her warm and help dry her off. Molly is also given a small lunchtime snack of about 30g Muesli Mix, which is rich in highly digestible carbohydrates and is coated in glucose syrup, so helps fuel Molly for the rest of the afternoon. Molly is then allowed to rest in her crate in the truck while her handler has lunch!
14:00pmMolly’s work starts again! Many gundogs start to show signs of fatigue in the afternoon, especially if they have been working hard in cold and wet conditions. Energy use will be even higher in dogs that might have been swimming for retrieves. Because of her fitness regime, Molly is raring to go; she will typically remain alert and active.
15:30pmHome time - The work is done, and everyone heads back to review the day. Molly gets checked over again, given another small snack of Muesli Mix if it has been a hard day, then can relax in her crate before heading home. The fire gets lit and Molly will get washed or brushed, to check her for any injuries. She will then get her dinner of Field & Trial Superior. Finally, she is then allowed to relax and warm up in front of the fire!
21:00pmWalk - A last short walk for Molly to allow her to toilet and stretch her legs before bedtime, when she often relives her exciting day by dreaming, yipping and twitching in her sleep.

Key Points:

  • Molly is given time after her main meals for full digestion.
  • Molly gets snacks to help support her activity level during the day.
  • Molly gets checked over regularly and is dried off and kept warm during breaks. This helps to keep her muscles warm and saves her having to waste energy by shivering!
  • Molly is offered regular, small drinks of water to keep her hydrated.
  • At the end of the day, Molly can relax but still gets a little exercise before bedtime to stop her from stiffening up!
  • On a typical working day, Molly’s hander covers about 15 km – Molly easily covers 2-3 x as much distance and this shows the value of both conditioning and fuelling your dog well!

Field & Trial Superior

Field & Trial Superior is suitable for working dogs with very high energy requirements and is highly recommended for bitches in whelp and throughout lactation. It is wheat gluten free.

More information

Analytical Constituents

  • Crude Protein:

    Essential for healthy growth and repair and an important energy source

    30%

  • Crude Fibres:

    Helps to produce firm stools, maintains intestinal health and aids digestion

    2.5%

  • Crude Oils & Fats:

    Maintains healthy skin and coat and provides energy for your dog

    20%

  • Crude Ash:

    Mineral content of the food determined chemically by burning the product

    8%

Benefits for your dog

Maintains healthy teeth & bones

Builds strong muscles

Helps improve stamina

Helps maintain a healthy, glossy coat

Field & Trial Muesli Mix

Field & Trial Muesli Mix is an appetising mix of meat, cooked peas, steam cooked flaked cereals and crunchy biscuits all coated in wheat glucose syrup which gives the food added natural flavour and a distinctive texture.

More information

Analytical Constituents

  • Crude Protein:

    Essential for healthy growth and repair and an important energy source

    21%

  • Crude Fibres:

    Helps to produce firm stools, maintains intestinal health and aids digestion

    3%

  • Crude Oils & Fats:

    Maintains healthy skin and coat and provides energy for your dog

    8%

  • Crude Ash:

    Mineral content of the food determined chemically by burning the product

    9%

Benefits for your dog

Maintains healthy teeth & bones

Builds strong muscles

Helps improve stamina

Helps maintain a healthy, glossy coat

Feed your dog like a Gundog: