Jedvalley Gundogs: Meet Andy Dunsmuir and his team of Working Labs
In the picturesque landscapes of the Scottish Borders, nestled amidst rolling hills and sprawling fields, you’ll find Andy Dunsmuir and his team of yellow Labs, Jedvalley Gundogs.
With a deep-rooted passion for dogs and a lifelong connection to the world of shooting, Andy has honed his skills and built a remarkable team of gun dogs.
From the lush moorlands to the dense woodlands, Andy’s four-legged companions are more than just pets; they are his trusted partners on shoot days. Whether the task at hand is retrieving grouse, partridge, or pheasants, these Labs are always ready to rise to the challenge. And, when it’s time for deer stalking, there’s one special dog that steps into a different role, Harry, showcasing the adaptability and intelligence that defines the Jedvalley Gundogs.
What sets Andy and his team apart is not just their remarkable hunting abilities; it’s the balance they strike between being dedicated working dogs and cherished family pets. In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of Andy Dunsmuir and his team, offering a glimpse into his journey as a gun dog trainer, methods, and the profound bond he shares with his dogs. Prepare to be inspired by the dedication and passion that fuel Jedvalley Gundogs.
Can you tell us about how you got started in gun dog training?
Sure, I was introduced to dogs at an early age by my parents who had working Labs. They were black Labs funnily enough, and my dad used them for rough shooting. I got into training them because I enjoyed working with the dogs.
What breeds do you primarily work with, and why do you prefer them?
I work with Labs, previously had both bitches and dogs but now I have all dogs. It really comes down to personal preference for each individual, I personally prefer Labs and would only buy pups from dogs that have proven themselves in the field, fully health tested and with and a good pedigree.
Can you walk us through a typical training session with your gun dogs?
The content of a training session depends on where the dog is at in its training. With a young dog, there’s a huge emphasis on building a strong connection with the handler before any training starts. Early stages of training involve heel work, sit/stay, recall, and some simple marks/memory exercises using dummies and introduction to cold game. For more advanced dogs, obedience remains essential, with a focus on off-lead heel work and steadiness. We also work on longer marks and handling exercises for unseen retrieves, which may include overcoming obstacles like fences, walls, or water. This could be done using cold game instead of dummies.
How do you adapt your training methods to suit the unique needs and personalities of different dogs?
Training methods should be tailored to each individual dog, but clearly there needs to be a planned structure and process to build the dog up, and also more importantly to identify any weaknesses it may have. Again, starting with pups from proven stock provides a good foundation for future training. Experience training multiple dogs over time gives you valuable knowledge that you can apply to each unique case.
How do you ensure that your dogs remain focused and responsive on game days, amidst all the excitement?
If the basics have been installed over time in a number of different training situations and the dog has been exposed to the excitement of a shoot day in a controlled manner, then they should have the tools to handle the demands of the day. Handling the excitement is something all dogs have to learn to deal with.
What advice do you have for gun dog owners to maintain their dogs’ health and fitness?
It starts with buying pups from parents that have been health-tested. That gives you the best chance for future good health, although it’s not always guaranteed. Thereafter, it’s all about maintaining a good diet and exercise routine year-round and building their fitness before the hunting season starts. This is fundamental and also helps prevent injuries.
Are there any specific products or training aids that you rely on for your gun dog training?
There’s a wide array of products available online. Personally, I use a simple slip lead for heel work, a whistle, training dummies, game and a starter pistol/launcher.
What do you find most rewarding about being a gun dog trainer?
Nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing the dogs working well and witnessing all the hours of training coming to fruition. It’s also rewarding to be recognised by peers who appreciate the time and effort required to bring the dogs up to a standard.
Can you share a memorable success story involving a gun dog you’ve trained?
One of my most memorable moments was when my dog Struan won the first working test I attended at Bowhill, Selkirk. Having never been to a working test before, I had no expectations. Winning that test gave me the opportunity to compete with my friend Tam Beattie at the national Game Fair at Ragley Hall in 2021, which was a fantastic experience.
Finally, can you describe your gun dogs in three words?
Simply the best!
From the thrill of the hunt to the quiet moments of companionship, Andy and his dogs exemplify the true essence of the canine-human bond. They are a symbol of dedication, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence in gun dog training.
As we conclude this journey into the world of Andy Dunsmuir and Jedvalley Gundogs, we are left with a profound appreciation for the dedication and passion that drive this remarkable team. Their story reminds us that, beyond their hunting prowess, dogs have an unparalleled ability to enrich our lives, offering unwavering companionship and endless love.
Look out for Andy and 2 of his dogs as they join us on our AW24 photo shoot later this month.