Diary of a Gun Dog: Episode 5 – Oscar the Teenager!


It’s been a busy month, with Oscar contracting a bout of kennel cough and he’s also trying out a new diet. He’s now a junior dog and moving into the ‘teenage’ phase, which can potentially bring its own challenges to rearing a dog and is a classic time for rebellion and boundary pushing. As Oscar moves into this tricky phase, let’s find out how he is getting on and how his family are dealing with any unwanted behaviour. Read on here..



Oscar’s family have been a little concerned about him moulting recently. Whilst they are aware it is a common problem for his breed, they are naturally concerned that it could also be related to his diet. As he’s moving on from his puppy phase into a teenage phase, a change of diet more suited to his age is being trialled. Dr John Titanium is specially formulated for dogs over 4 months of age who are moving into adult life. It has slightly lower protein levels than Gilbertson & Page’s puppy food (25% compared with 27%), but still an optimum level for active junior dogs like Oscar. Combined with essential vitamins and minerals plus fats and oils to keep his coat and skin healthy, it should be just the thing to support a busy, active lifestyle. They should also see an improvement in the condition of his coat too.


A few weeks ago, Oscar surprised his family by growling at the children if they approached him whilst he was eating. This is no doubt a natural instinct, born of the desire to protect a food source from a potential threat, but is unnecessary and unwanted behaviour in a family, household environment. After an initial stern telling off, Mr and Mrs R realised that Oscar was suddenly very nervous when eating and decided to try a gentle, gradual approach to solve the problem. They needed to reassure Oscar that no one was going to take his food away, especially not the children, who he obviously saw as the main threat. Allowing the children to give Oscar his food and having them walk past him at a distance or talk to him from a distance whilst eating has improved the situation dramatically.

When Oscar started coughing last week, the family were naturally concerned and soon took him to the vet when it worsened. The vet confirmed that Oscar had a bout of kennel cough, a highly contagious canine disease which can be very serious for older dogs and young puppies, and prescribed him a course of antibiotics. It is recommended to stay away from other dogs for about two weeks to avoid spreading it. For a few days, Oscar was too poorly to do much and he didn’t even manage to play out in the snow. However, he was soon back on his feet and enjoying his usual walks, though he’s missing the company of other dogs.


Oscar’s gundog training has been carrying on in the background, using dummies and real birds to build his retrieval skills. On the last shoot of the season, Mr R was very proud when Oscar finished his first season off nicely with a couple of excellent retrieves. The training will continue through the off season with work in woodland and cover to flush out birds as well as plenty of pigeon shooting each month. This will enable Mr R and Oscar to continue building on their good foundations, introducing new commands, following directions and cementing the trust the have in each other until, come November Oscar will be ready to take part in the new shooting season as a fully fledged member of the party.

Oscar’s View

I haven’t been very well lately. I had a horrible cough. The children were having so much fun in the snow (strange, wet stuff!) on a thing they call a ‘sledge’ and I really wanted to chase them up and down, but I couldn’t. It made me cough and I had to go inside. They took me to see the vet, who gave me some medicine and now I’m all better and looking forward to the next time it snows.

I was also very worried for a while that they were going to try to take my food away from me before I could finish it. I growled at them, which wasn’t a good thing to do. Now I understand that they aren’t coming to take it away, they just want to talk when I eat my dinner, like they do when they eat their food. I’m getting bigger now and I have a new food; it’s delicious.