I had a visit from the police the other day no, not to arrest me just some friends from the Metropolitan Police Dog Training School at Keston dropping in on passing. A few years ago I ran a Gundog Training course for Advanced handlers. One of the students on the course was Keith Mackenzie who ran 'The Met' school at the time. Keith is a keen shooter and a Springer enthusiast. Since then I have kept in touch as 'The Met' are always looking for failed gundogs to train up as sniffer dogs. Not all gundog pups successfully make it through onto the shooting field. Fortunately rejects are scarce due to selective breeding but serious faults can be handler induced which so easily could have been avoided with some sympathetic training.
These days there are several different avenues open to help people transform that new cuddly bundle of mischief into a respectable shooting companion. From the D.I.Y method to the more formal sending away to school, each has its merit.
Full professional residential training is expensive and will mean your pup will be away from you in kennels for around 4 to 6 months. The main advantage is that the professional will have seen many dogs through their hands and will be able to train efficiently and pre-empt any possible problems should they arrive. They will also have at their disposal comprehensive training facilities enabling them to eventually hand you back a dog ready for the shooting field. Of course it will now be up to you to learn the handling of your dog and to keep the training in place remembering that dogs are not robots.
Some excellent training books and DVD's are available which will take you from choosing a puppy right through to shooting over your dog. Guiding you step by step along the way they are obviously unable to help you when things inevitably do not go to plan. Every dog is different some are shy and retiring others are bold and headstrong. Gundog training is often described as an Art and it is therefore difficult to quantify in terms of painting by numbers.
Weekly one to one tuition with a professional is worth considering. This is an economical option and a way of gaining knowledgeable guidance through the various stages your pup will go through. You will gradually learn together with your dog what is expected of you both and therefore learning your dogs strengths and weaknesses along the way. Knowledge once learnt is with you for ever.
Gundog training classes run throughout the summer months can also be a help. Classes can be enormous fun with you being able to meet other people who are also trying to train their dogs. By seeing what problems other people are experiencing and how they are over coming them can be very informative. Make sure that the class is not too big and that you are not having to stand around waiting for too long which can be detrimental to a young dog. A class situation is also excellent for socialising youngsters.
So - which ever avenue you may choose to train Fido up to that shinning example of gundog excellence!! rest assured you will never to cease learn and hopefully the Metropolitan Police Dog Training School will have to look else were for a new recruit!