19 Gun Dog Terms You Should Know When Training a Hunting Dog


Hunting, field trials, dog training—each has a language all its own and understanding it will lead to more success. You wouldn’t expect to live in a foreign country without learning the language, so why dwell in the dog-and-bird world with a similar disadvantage? Here are some common terms that may not be so common to you:

Air washed
A bird that has recently flown and landed, and thus has yet to leave much scent where it landed.

American Field
Sporting dog association that tests and registers pointing dogs; publishes Field Dog Stud Book.

Dog stopping upon seeing another dog’s point.

Willing to take direction, easy to train.

1. A pair of dogs being hunted together; 2. A pair of shot birds in-hand.

When a brace of dogs is released simultaneously to begin a field trial run, usually commanded by the judge.

Long rope or similar item attached to a dog’s collar and used to direct or correct it.

Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB)
A document published by the American Field Publishing Company in Chicago, registering many field-trial breeds including setters and pointers.

Force train, force break
Training to retrieve through any number of methods using an ear pinch, toe pinch, or similar physical or mental “force.” Also known as “conditioned retrieve.”

Green broke
Often the same as a “started” dog, indicates some level of training in obedience and elementary hunting skills, usually including pointing.

To over-handle a dog, usually with a numerous unnecessary verbal or whistle commands.

Stop and sit at flush or upon command, usually done by spaniels.

Female dog. Also “gyp,” a term used by houndsmen that refers to an unbred female.

A retrieval item a dog sees thrown for his benefit. Usually a game bird or a training bumper; 2. The act of watching the item as it is thrown.

Non-slip retriever
Term used in connection with off-lead retriever field trials, a dog that is steady to wing, shot, and fall and only retrieves when commanded.

A left-right-left pattern the dog runs in the field, generally in an arc in front of the hunter.

Resuming hunting on his own or upon command, after a dog has pointed a bird (that has likely moved off).

Lying down upon encountering birds. Historically, setter-type dogs did this before firearms became prevalent, so that a net-throwing hunter had an unobstructed toss to the birds.

The term used to describe any number of training drills done in and around the kennel area or “yard.”

Photograph courtesy of Hard Core Brands