Books from Swan Valley Press

How to Help Gundogs Train Themselves

How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves

How to Have the Best Trained Gundog

How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog


Griffon: Gun Dog Supreme

pointing dog journal

In Tom Huggler’s column in Jan../Feb. 2009 PDJ, he answers a reader’s request for a good training book with: "... an excellent guide is Joan Baileys new book, How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog, All Natural - No Expensive Electronics Needed..."

In his regular column in Michigan Outdoors (December 2008) he says,

"...Bailey's new book ...explains simple-yet-effective methods that are natural and do not require electronic aids.... Owners of flushing, pointing and retrieving breeds will learn plenty from this slim, no-nonsense guide."

ducks unlimited logo

“…In Ducks Unlimited Sept/Oct 2010, Waterfowler’s Bookshelf, they say: “…In How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog, author Joan Bailey shares proven training techniques in a clear, uncomplicated manner. This is a fine choice for the neophyte trainer and can be a handy refresher for those who have experience training dogs…” (Click on Recommendations for the full text.)

Click on Reviews and Recommendations for more.

  • Learn
  • Contents
  • Excerpt
  • Reviews
  • Recommendations
  • How to Force Retrieve Train with Little or No Pain

  • How to Control Your Dog at All Times

  • How Steady to Wing & Shot are made Easier

Table of Contents
How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog

  1. How This Unique Sequence Works

  2. Obedience: Sit and Stay, the Foundation

  3. Obedience: Leash Training and Heeling

  4. Basic Steps of Force Retrieving

  5. Retrieving in the Field and Water

  6. Chasing a Duck and Building Desire

  7. Drop: The Ultimate Command

  8. Retrieving from a Drag Track

  9. Stay-at-the-Spot

  10. Steady at the Blind

  11. Steady to Wing and Shot Made Easier

  12. The Best Trained Hunting Dog

  13. Appendix

  14. Bibliography

Excerpt from Chapter Four, Basic Steps of Force Retrieving

"...For all retrieving exercises always be sure that the object (dummy, bird, gloved hand, dead bird) is placed in the dog's mouth carefully so he's  comfortable, and the object is not causing pain. A quick and easy solution is to run your bare fingers around his gums, making sure the dummy is not pressing his gums or his tongue down onto his teeth-ouch!

Step 1.  The dog tolerates your hand in his mouth.

Attach the leash to the dog's collar and have him sit beside your left knee. Then gently drop the leash and take hold of his mouth with your left hand. Using your thumb and middle finger, press against the side of his lips so he opens his mouth. Say "Fetch" and immediately put your gloved right hand, palm up, into his mouth (Photo 1). The backward movement of his head is prevented with your left hand. Keep your hand in the dog's mouth for 10 seconds (count silently to yourself).

Be sure to use a soft glove such as a gardening glove. (The right hand should not be inside the dog's mouth further than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch behind the canine teeth.) After a few seconds, say the command "give" or "out" and withdraw your gloved right hand. Encourage the dog with quiet praise. Repeat this step until he tolerates your hand for up to 60 seconds. Increase the time gradually: 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and 30 seconds up to 60. (See Photo 2.)

Limit the training session to only 10 minutes. If you don't succeed in the dog tolerating your hand for 60 seconds within the 10-minute session do it for a length of time that the dog will tolerate, and continue at the next session until the dog will tolerate your gloved hand for 60 seconds.

excerpt photo 1

Photo 1. The proper way to put your gloved hand into the dog's mouth.


excerpt photo 2

Photo 2. The dog holds your gloved hand in his mouth-10 seconds the first time.

Step 2.  The dog tolerates the wood dummy and other dummies in his mouth.

Use the same position as in Step 1, but use the wood dummy instead. (See Photo 3.)  Make sure the dummy does not pinch his gums or lips. When he holds the wood dummy for up to 60 seconds, use the stuffed skins of different birds. This may take up to two days.

Step 3.  The dog holds the dummy and a stuffed bird skin.

As soon as the dog tolerates the hand, dummy, and stuffed bird, stroke the top of his head gently a few times with soft praise while looking directly into his eyes. (See Photo 3.) Professional trainers know that this makes the dog concentrate on you. Be alert if the dog attempts to drop the object, by using your left hand on the collar immediately to stop it, and quickly give the command "Fetch."

As training progresses, remove the right hand carefully from the dummy with the command "fetch." (See Photo 4.) Anticipate your dog's every attempt to drop or discard the dummy by quickly using your right hand to stop him, combined with the repeated command "fetch." And remember to always say the command "give" each time you want him to release the dummy into your hand.

Five to twenty repetitions will be necessary to bring the dog to the point where he will hold a dummy or stuffed bird for about one minute. In between these repetitions you should practice the sit and heel. It is extremely important to have frequent variation to avoid boredom in the dog and to relieve any tension. Frequent variety requires the dog to pay strict attention, and to concentrate on the Boss.

For example you can have the dog hold the dummy or bird for 60 seconds. Then switch to walking around, heeling for three or four minutes. Then come back to step 3 and continue for 5 more minutes.

Usually three days at the most will be required for the first three steps. Some dogs and some trainers can do it in one day, but whether it takes you one day or three days, or even longer is not important. What is important is to avoid all intimidation. The pressure is quiet, determined and direct, but without great harshness. On the other hand give lavish praise as soon as the dog complies with your wishes.

excerpt photo 3

Photo 3.  Place the light wooden dummy into the dog's mouth.


excerpt photo 4

Photo 4. The dog holds the dummy while your left hand softly pets him. Your right hand held is held under his chin as a visual aid to prevent him from dropping the dummy.

For a successful hunting dog it is especially important that the dog releases or gives the dummy only on the verbal command "give." Anticipating the give when the dog sees your hand must not become a signal for him to release (give) the dummy. Here is how to avoid sloppy retrieves: back to top

From the December 2008 Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine, Tom Huggler recommends four books in his Michigan Meanders column
Joan Bailey’s latest book is one of the four:

How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog by Joan Bailey is a 6 inch by 9-inch paperback containing 118 pages. The publisher is Swan Valley Press (ISBN 978-0-9639127-5-3), and the cost is $23.95.

Whenever people ask for my favorite book on dog training, I have long recommended titles by the late Richard Wolters. Although Wolters wrote Gun Dog, Water Dog and other books in the 1960s, they are still valid and helpful to both experienced and rookie hunters who want to try DIY dog training. Now, I also suggest Bailey’s new book, which explains simple-yet-effective methods that are natural and do not require electronic aids. The author, who lives in Oregon, has established a reputation as a great contributor to what is now a plethora of books and information about the best ways to train dogs.

Larry Mueller, hunting dog editor for Outdoor Life magazine, calls her “One of America’s great dog people,” an accolade I believe comes not just from Bailey’s knowledge but from her ability to communicate simply and clearly. She does this not only with words but with helpful black-and-white photos.

Owners of flushing, pointing and retrieving breeds will learn plenty from this slim, no-nonsense guide.

Huggler writes regularly for The Pointing Dog Journal in his column “Eastern Encounters,” and has written many popular books and produced videos on hunting pheasants, quail, woodcock, and grouse. He has won numerous writing awards.

December 2008
From, John Falk, well known author of many books and articles on gun dogs, recommends Joan Bailey’s latest book:

“Impeccable credentials seem to be in rare supply today. When they are truly found, however, it restores one’s faith. So, it is with Joan Bailey, author of a new book that’s a real gem for hunting dog owners, entitled How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog. Here is a very fine, invaluable step-by-step manual, which, if faithfully followed to the letter, should guide any bird hunter to the promised land: ownership of a gun dog that performs as a really well trained field dog should, obediently and with confidence and success.

The new book is a logically natural segue from the author’s earlier tome: How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves. It provides straight forward explanations and extremely helpful illustrations leading to the principal goals of a good serviceable hunting dog, one that brings home the bacon every time. Every owner of a new gun dog pup would do well to combine both manuals to start that pup along the right road into the field. Naturally, though, the new book alone can shape an adult pointing, flushing of fetch breed to “best trained” status within several months.”

From the January/February 2009 Drahthaar News: Newsletter of the Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar, Group Canada, former Newsletter editor Sandy Hodson says in her review of Joan Bailey’s latest book, How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog:

“Many of you are already familiar with the writing of Joan Bailey through her first book How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves…that book focused on what the owner of a…hunting dog can do in the first year of the dog’s life to lay the foundation for future training and performance. This second book picks up from there with more specific training strategies that Joan describes as, ‘…easy for me to use and are successful in producing a fully trained gun dog---a dog that I can control in any hunting situation as well as in any day-to-day family life.’

…Topics covered in the book include basic obedience, force retrieve training, the drop command (also called “down” or “halt”), retrieving in field and water, retrieving from a drag track, steadiness to wing and shot, and steadiness at the blind.

…this book is very well organized. Each topic is broken down into logical steps, and guidance is given for progressing through these steps. A good number of photographs clarify positioning, etc., and there are suggestions for solving common problems.

…The detail in this book makes it an excellent choice for a new trainer, but here is a lot there for more experienced trainers, too. The emphasis on obedience and control is congruent with many of the articles and columns you have recently read in Drahthaar News. Joan Bailey’s book takes training that one step further to ensure that your hunting companion is reliable when it really counts.”

DUCKS UNLIMITED. “Training a sporting dog takes time, patience, and commitment. In How to Have the Best Trained Gun Dog, author Joan Bailey shares proven training techniques in a clear, uncomplicated manner. This is a fine choice for the neophyte trainer and can be a handy refresher for those who have experience training dogs. Bailey stresses that short, daily training sessions are all that’s required to develop a gun dog of which you will be proud.” Sept/Oct 2010

"The new book is terrific. Impressive thoroughness. The detail is empowering...It's clear, with concrete example and real-life situations. Good on both mechanical details and the concepts underlying them. Lots of good and practical guidance...Very readable, draws you in." John Lundberg, field judge

"The new book picks up right where Bailey's first book left off and succinctly guides one through all the steps necessary to nurture and train a finished gun dog of any breed." Field judge, Phil Bennett, Maine:

"This book should be on every gundog owner's book shelf and read cover to cover whenever a new dog is coming into the home. With both of Bailey's books you are assured of having a complete training program regardless of breed or age." Jack Dallimore, field judge