'Every little thing matters' - remember that and it will help enormously with your training.  If you don't know what that means, you need to learn.  It is the difference between an 'ok' dog and an 'excellent' dog


BasIc Training Problems

Main Problems in Basic Training -

  • Not coming to recall when out on a walk
  • Not coming back into the house from the garden when called
  • Not coming back to have the lead put on
  • Not sitting when told to sit whether close or at distance
  • Coming back to recall and then running on past or around you
  • Going out for the retrieve but then running around you with it
  • Going out for the retrieve but then spitting it out before it gets back to you
  • Being given the 'stay' command and then running off from the spot as soon as you move
  • Pulling on the lead / not walking to heel - yes, that old chestnut

At home, if you don't insist on 'basic manners', e.g waiting to get out of the car until told, not barging out the back door at home as soon as you open it, letting them charge off as soon as the lead is removed, etc., you will never have a trained gundog, (or trained pet) no matter how much residential training you send him for, or lessons you have.  Always aim for the best your dog is capable of (no matter how small the task) and you will have so many more rewards, as will he.

If you are thinking about sending your dog for Residential Training, please read our 'Misconceptions' and 'Training Problems' pages so you can be sure you have a good understanding of what training is all about. It is not possible for anyone to make an informed decision without having all the facts and information available to them.

We love helping owners to train their dogs but you must understand that training is a long term plan and you, the owners, must have input into it for it to be successful.

Basic obedience seems to be a huge training problem for so many people.  With regard to gundog training, you CANNOT train a dog to become a gundog (or even pet dogs with basic gundog training) unless the dog understands basic training.

What is basic training?  The most basic of all dog training - the dog knowing his name, understanding and complying with sit, stay, recall and retrieve.  We see so many dogs far too often who do not understand basic obedience.  Are they bad dogs?  No, 9 times out of 10 they have owners who don't know (or sometimes just don't care enough or can't be bothered) how to teach them. 

In the big wide world of information there is such conflicting advice and information about what age to start this and by what age they should be able to do this or that, so people sometimes get lost after having started with such good intentions.  Sometimes the basic training with the pup starts off well and then somewhere along the way begins to just, go wrong.

  • Basic obedience doesn't need to be such hard work, you just need to put your heart and soul into it and actually want to do it, and if you don't want to, then perhaps buying a dog was not the right choice for you (dogs are not disposable items). 
  • Then, for the owners who treat their dogs like human babies, stop!, all you are doing is 1) confusing your dog, 2) expecting things from him he can never deliver and 3) inadvertently teaching him how to ignore you and not follow commands. 
  • For those people who give a command e.g. 'sit' but say it 25 times, what do you think you are actually teaching the dog, yes, that's right, to ignore you, that whatever commands that come out of your mouth are not commands, they are just more human words, banter and you just wittering away, as far as your dog is concerned.

So to basic training- when to do it and what it is?

AS SOON AS YOU GET YOUR PUP HOME, THAT'S WHEN YOU START................................

So you've read the books and watched the videos and most of them are saying not to start training until the dog is 6 months old or more.  So that is exactly what many people do, they wait until the dog is 6 months, 9 months, 12 months and then wonder why they can't start the basic training properly, like sit or stay, or why it isn't working.

You have waited till the 6 or 12 months stage and for those of you who it isn't working the way you thought it would be - it is because you are not experienced enough to start a dogs training off at 6, 9 or 12 months, you need to start it from the minute you bring your 8 week old pup home.  How much training can you expect an 8 or 12 week old pup to do and actually learn from, truthfully, a surprising amount.  Pups begin to learn from the minute they are born, whether that be from genetic instinct or from outside factors.  How many people can't get a 4 month or 6 month old pup to come to recall?  The answer is, an awful lot, which only goes to show just how much your pup has already learned and it's only 4 or 6 months old.  Dogs learn the things we don't actually mean to teach them, very very quickly.  This is exactly the reason why you begin training from day 1.

From day 1 you begin to build a bond with your dog and treat it like a young dog, not a human baby (for reasons already given).  The better the bond the easier the training.  What is a bond, is that love?  Yes and no.  Some people think that building a bond with their dog means holding it, carrying it around, kissing it all the time, letting it chew their hands and toes, letting it not do the things they tell it to do, filling it with treats all the time, etc.  They think that if they do all these things the dog will love them and do whatever they say in the long run.  WRONG!  Love, respect, trust and leadership do not go hand in hand from doing these things.

A dog cannot comply with 'sit' unless you teach it what sit means to you, the human.  The dog cannot come to recall unless you teach it what recall means to you, the human.  Your dog is A DOG, not a human, they don't understand our language, we have to teach them what we want and expect them to do when we say a certain word or use a certain whistle.

You have to be strong without being cruel, you have to lead without being a bully.  You have to nurture your dogs strong instincts and build on and develop his weaker ones.  If your dog does not respect you as the stronger of you as the leader, he will assume the position.  If they do not see you as interesting and stimulating, they will go off and find others who are, whether that be joggers, other dogs, flying pheasants or running rabbits.

If you are not strong and teach, with love, your dog is going to do all those things like running off after other dogs or chase rabbits and every time they do it, they learn more and more that they can and will do it over and over.

Ok, so by now maybe your dog is 12 months or 18 months old and you think that your dog needs to go down the gundog training route so he can use all those instincts.  WHY?  Why wait until he is now 12 or 18 months old and doesn't come reliablely to recall, chases rabbits and dogs, wont stay when you tell him and jumps out the car the minute you open the car or crate door?  Don't you think that those instincts are going to be there when he was a pup and that as he gets older they are only going to get stronger?  Don't you think that by 18 months old, in the real gundog training world, the dog should be ready for his first season on the job to gain real life experience?  By 18 months old he should have finished his gundog training and be out learning it all for real, not just starting it.

So now you're going to 'gundog' train your dog, at 12 or 18 months old (or older!) because this will allow him to use those natural instincts, and yes, it will, but the truth usually is, he already has been using his instincts, that is why he's been chasing those rabbits, because he's been using all his natural dog and breeding instincts and you haven't taught him from a young age how he should be doing things. 

Why, why didn't you teach him?  Because you love him and he's as much a pet as a gundog and you didn't think it would matter so much when he was young.  IT DID MATTER.  Because you just want(ed) an obedient pet, well guess what, you don't/wont have one because IT DID MATTER, train him when he's young.

Ok, so now you think, well what's the point, it's too late, you might as well resign yourself to the fact that the bed is made and this is the rest of his life.  Yes, the bed is made, and you made it, through lack of knowledge, or time perhaps, or thought, but there is still a lot you can do, but it wont happen overnight and it wont happen without work from you but with good guidance, and your commitment, it can happen.

Wouldn't it be better though to be proactive rather than reactive?  It would certainly be fairer on the dog and not to mention much easier on you.  Once a dog has learned all those bad habits, yes, you can re-teach him but it takes a lot of hard work and time and it would be so much simpler if he didn't learn them in the first place.

When you get your young pup home, be proactive and learn how to teach your dog and be realistic about the fact that this takes time, effort and commitment from you.  We can help you to learn how to train your dog, but for your dogs benefit, learn while the dog is young how to teach your dog and be prepared to put time and effort into your dogs life to help him learn the things you want him to learn.

All hope is not lost but, realise that dogs don't train themselves to do the whole sit, stay, recall, retrieve 100 yard blinds, etc. thing all by themselves, we need to teach them these things, and if you don't, then don't expect them to do it!

Start the basic training early and start the gundog training once the basic training is well truly learnt.

People stop training far too early.  They don't realise how far the dogs training could actually go and how much more they could do with their dog so only ever end up giving the dog tasks which are no way challenging enough for the dog. 

Those who come will know what I'm talking about when I say, so many people only ever give their dog Jack and Jill to read instead of Harry Potter!

We don't want to judge you and how you've done things to date, we are here to help you, and if you read everything above, you will see that you aren't the first person, and you won't be the last, to make any of the above mistakes.  The best thing to do now is to book up for regular lessons, not just one or two thinking that is all you need, because you will be a unique individual if that is the case.  Book regular sessions, every week (or fortnight or three weeks, etc., what ever works for you), stick to them.  Do your homework, this is the most important part.  If you attend regular lessons but don't do the work in between each session you wont make progress.  And don't think it wont show that you haven't done your homework, because it will, dogs don't lie, people can say as many things as they want, but at the end of the day, the dogs always show us what you have been teaching them, good, bad and indifferent

Here endeth todays lesson