Spaniel Journal Home Page

Tarrant Trains Gun Dogs by Bill Tarrant

Trust your instincts - no this has nothing to do with the subject of this book; I just wanted to say that my first impression after reading this book is that Bill Tarrant is a darn good magazine writer. And, lo and behold, I discovered that a good bit of this book was indeed taken from Field and Stream magazine articles written by Tarrant. So my instincts were right- Tarrant is a good magazine writer.

"This book is all dogs who have been - in the name of training - shot, shocked, beat, stomped, cursed, kicked and otherwise brutalized by man's inhumanity to life."

Quite truthfully, the books suffers from translation from the magazine form to the book form. It doesn't flow as well as it could. So treat it as a collection of good magazine articles. Most of us don't sit down and read the whole book at one time, anyhow. As an aside, having four Tarrant books on the bookshelf, it might be that I'm suffering from "Tarrant overload". And, as to the portions taken from Field and Stream, I probably read those articles in a waiting room sometime in the 70's and 80's. Yeah, I would remember things like that.

I like Tarrant's approach - he always seems to be looking out for the dog. And that is the premise of this book, which claims to be, "the first book on training gun dogs ever specifically written to remove the whip from the trainer's hand."

The book is written from an all-breed standpoint; Tarrant covers pointing dogs, spaniels and retrievers. Being as the issue at hand for Spaniel Journal readers is typically the training of spaniels, which Pam Kadlec calls "soft-tempered, hard-headed, intelligent dogs", "removing the whip" is a good thing. Being harsh might work with a pointer, but rare is the spaniel that will take that kind of treatment. More likely, they will just shut down... or pee all over the place.
Tarrant Trains Gun Dogs

Tarrant's premise is that harshness is not good for pointers, either.

Enough of my thoughts - let me tell you about the book.

This books is aimed at the newcomer. There is a lot of basic information about puppies and dog care. The book has an extensive chapter on First Aid, and reviews topics such as heartworm, hot weather and allergies.

The chapter on First Aid is one of the best ever written. This chapter, along with the chapter entitled "Picking a Healthy Pup", was written with the assistance of Dr. Dick Royse, a Wichita, Kansas veterinarian. It includes some helpful photographs. This information is content that any dog owner should be familiar with, but is especially useful for the beginner.

In fact, only about one-third of the book is really focused on training. If you are looking for a handbook on training drills, this might not be the best place to look. But the fundamentals of dog care include many topics that the experienced handler takes for granted.

Where Tarrant really shines is in the aspect of dog psychology - getting into the dog's head. And most importantly, making sure that every single activity that you do with pup - right down to mealtime - has a purpose and plan to make a finished gun dog.

"Dog training is an art, not a science....But in the end it all boils down to just one thing: it's birds. Tons of birds. With birds you will develop a bird dog., without them you'll develop a dog. Buy 'em, raise 'em, or snatch 'em from beneath bridges or out of bell towers. But you must have birds."

Insofar as training is concerned, Tarrant does review some fundamentals of table training (force breaking), and the Tarrant classics: the "litter box check cord," the "power bar" and the "chain gang". Many of these techniques are primarily identified with pointing dogs, but are another tool in the tool box of the spaniel trainer. Some tools don't get used all the time, but are handy when you need them.

Tarrant touches on some aspects of spaniel training with ten pages on "Training the Flushing Dog". Pretty basic, but at least those pointing dog owners now know what we are up to.

This book is not a new release, it has been in print for about 15 years. The fact that it is still available attests to its longevity. My goal, in these reviews, is to let you know what's out there and help you decide if and where to spend your money. Tarrant is one of the top ten contemporary dog writers in America and worth your consideration.

Copies of this book are available from:
Spaniel Journal Bookstore

Tarrant Trains Gun Dogs: Humane ways to get top results
by Bill Tarrant - Copyright © 1989
Stackpole Books
ISBN 0-8117-1723-2

Bill Fawcett resides in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife, Cindy, and his Springer, Jenna. He is a hunter, field trialer and member of the M-AHSC. He also maintains a public FB ESS pedigree database at

| Bookstore | The Bookshelf | Video Library | Information | NEW! Classifieds | Spaniel Resources | Letters | Archives | Spaniel Journal |
| Victor McDevitt | Tickety Boo | Jason Givens | Pam Kadlec | Martin Deeley | Tony Roettger | Loretta Baughan | Photo Contest |

Copyright © Spaniel Journal & L Baughan Webdesign, 2002-2004, all rights reserved worldwide