OUR TRAINING GOAL IS EXCELLENCE, WHAT'S YOURS?
'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
Love, calmness, consistency, praise and positive training are what makes the difference between a happy, trained dog who keeps his personality and who works with you because he wants to and a dog who works for you out of fear. Don't get frustrated and start shouting and tearing your hair out.
It isn't unknown for people to spend a whole 1hour lesson with us and not being allowed to talk to or whistle the dog in order to learn how to communicate with him without loudness, constant chatter or shouting. Get the help you need. The more you put into it, the more both you and your dog will get out of it.
(All our videos have moved from here to our 'VIDEOS - DOG TRAINING' Page)
All of Craigelachie Gundog training is based on positive reinforcement, basically, praise and reward. We have no time for belting, booting, dragging,throwing, electric collars or gadgets. This is the wrong way to train a dog, in fact, it isn't training, it's bullying and frightening! We aim for happy trained dogs, not those that cower behind your leg too terrified to even think about putting their nose beside your leg. Our training is very much about bonding, praise and reward, positive dog training, where the dog wants to be with you and do things with you.
We specialise in one-to-one training where you have our undivided attention and residential training where your dog stays with us and does his learning with us. At the end of his course, we then take you and your dog out, into the real environment and show you how to continue with his training from how to communicate with him, his new commands and how to deal with any problems that may arise along the way.
The most common phonecall we get is 'my dog is great but he has a problem with his recall'. As soon as I hear that, I already know they have a much bigger problem than just recall. Often people think that is the only problem because it is the area of their dogs disobedience that bothers them. They don't notice the other issues because they don't bother them as much as the dog not coming back to recall. Another area that people need to understand is that when a dog is away out in front, hunting on his own terms, not coming to recall or responding to the stop whistle, he is not working as a trained dog, regardless of whether he comes from working stock or not. This is how an untrained dog behaves. Trained and untrained dogs behave very differently but some people wrongly think that the above behaviour means the dog is trained and working. A good working dog is very well trained and responds to commands. An untrained dog is one who does not respond to commands. This goes for both working dogs and pet dogs who are being trained using gundog training.
The hardest part of dog training for most people are the early stages, the boring stages if you like, the sit/stay and recall. These are the two areas that are skimped on the most, why, because the owner/handler doesn't feel they are getting very much from it and they think it means the training isn't going forward. This is such a misconception. The sit/stay and recall are the foundations of all future training. It's like building a fancy shiny posh house, if you don't have good foundations, that fancy house may look good for a while, but soon, it will come crashing down. The house foundations are the same as the sit/stay and recall foundations of dog training. If you don't believe me, skimp on it by all means and see what happens.
We specialise in positive one to one training, where you have our undivided attention to work with you and your dog. We often find that training classes can leave a handler and their dog with as many questions as answers. Don't get me wrong, they have their place, they are great for getting your dog socialised, but for value for money and to get the most for both you and your dog in your training session, we believe that the one to one is much more valuable.
Our youngest member of the team also works with agility dogs, which is a very good sport for gundogs over the close season, with a few adjustments being made to some of the agility exercises because you don't want to teach your best gundog to spit the retrieve out!
We have a variety of agility equipment that can be incorporated into many training programmes for both working dogs and pet obedience (and the dogs love it too!).
Our training grounds offer varied cover for the gundog from water, woodland, heather, bramble, rhododendron, reeds and rushes.
'Smartie & Christine' - showing the importance of focus from both dog and owner . Eye contact is crucial and shows a good communication and understanding between dog and owner.
This young dog first came with vice like jaws! With time, patience and correct training, she not only has a much softer mouth but also a greatly improved recall and delivery.
What is gundog training and how is it any different to obedience training?
We are often asked this question and the answer is simple. Gundog training IS obedience training but the basic obedience is at a considerably higher standard and the more advanced part is taken in a different direction.
Any obedience training can be taken in any direction. Just because you train your dog as a gundog doesn't mean he has to be one. You could train your dog to 'track' instead but he doesn't have to go out and find criminals. Gundog training is exceptionally good for dogs who come from working stock but are not going to become working dogs themselves.
Obedience training can take so many avenues once you get past the basics. But the one big warning here is - YOUR DOG MUST BE COMPLETELY COMPETENT IN THE BASICS BEFORE YOU TAKE HIM TO THE NEXT LEVEL. That doesn't mean his training needs to become boring or the same old thing everytime you take him out. It does mean you may have to become clever with his training if the basics are taking some time to be well and truly embedded.
Most dogs learn pretty quickly so this usually isn't a problem. Some dogs learn very very quickly and you really have to be 'training clever' for them. If you're not, these dogs are going to start misbehaving very quickly because they are not being challenged either mentally, physically or both.
Often in dog training whether it is obedience training, gundog training, agility training, tracker training, etc., you have to think quickly on your feet. Every dog is different and needs to be trained and treated as such. If you try to train your dog the same way your best friend trains their dog, you may find yourself with problems that your best friend will never encounter. Every dog is just like us, different, but one thing is always true, they learn through play. How you develop that play from puppy play training to serious adult dog training, can determine the difference between success and failure in dog training.
All of our training is based on positive reinforcement, basically, praise and reward. We have no time for belting, booting or throwing. There is no reason in the world why someone should stand on a dogs back to teach it how to stay or any other such nonsense. This is the wrong way to train a dog, in fact, it isn't training, it's bullying and frightening! We aim for happy trained dogs, not those that cower behind your leg too terrified to even think about putting their nose beside your leg. Our training is very much about bonding, praise and reward, positive dog training.
The harshest form of punishment your dog should ever get (if reprimand or punishment is needed), is a firm voice, a certain body stance, and a look in your eye. It's not about shouting, it's about 'tone'. But reprimand and punishment needs to be balanced with praise and reward, or it is worthless to the dog. You also need to be able to read your dogs body language and your timing for everything is crucial to getting the results you want from your dog.
Many dogs are labelled wild and unruly, and many of them are exactly that. Some of these same dogs are also labelled stupid, most are not. Most of these dogs are wild and unruly and are seen as stupid because in actual fact they are intelligent and lack mental stimulation, from their owner, so they go off and find it for themselves, making them behave wild and unruly. This is why training is so important, not just because you want a dog that conforms to our society, but because you want your dog to get as much pleasure from life as it can so it is happy and content at the end of the day. Physical exercise alone is not enough.
When you get your new pup home immediately begin the bonding process. Play with your dog, become his best friend, his leader, protector and become the person he always wants to be with. And when you begin training, keep that in mind, that you always want to be the person he wants to be with. You need to become and stay the most important and interesting thing in his whole life.
My oldest dog is long since retired and I still play with her and if I took her out with the gun, she would still hunt hard and retrieve anything I sent her for. And I am not ashamed to admit that the next 2 younger ones (7 yrs old) still absolutely love to play roly poly games with me and pretend dancing to whatever takes my fancy at the time and both have worked their socks off on days you could barely move in the cold and the wind. So you can see that training is not the only important thing, a good bond is also important. My current youngest one, with all his skills, reminds me every day why I think he is amazing. I truly love all my dogs and bonding comes very easily, but as you will gather from this website, training is just as important to us, and the best way to keep that bond with your dog is through continual training. Dogs don't see training as 'training', they see it as fun time with their favourite person, and the better you do it, the more they enjoy it!
If I believe in anything in life it is this:
Owning a dog means more than just feeding them, taking them to the vets when needed and taking them for walks. Dog training is more than just sit, stay, fetch and heel. A dog is not a disposable or replaceable item like a car or tv. You can't turn them on and off as you would your laptop or radio. They are not only expensive to keep well and happy but they have a brain which they can use and they have emotions. Like children, they need more than just a roof over their head and food in their belly. Never underestimate the instinct, intelligence or feelings of a dog, to do so would make you a fool.
If you own a dog and you want it to be not only happy, but well balanced, mentally and emotionally, you need time, energy and commitment and if you have passion too, then your relationship with your dog will also come on leaps and bounds. Dogs need to use their brain. If you don't give them tasks to use their brain, they will find tasks of their own to use it. The more you train your dog, the more your dog will want to train. Training does not need to be a regimented, formal and boring process you feel you have to go through, if that is how it feels, then both you and your dog will fail. Training does need to be consistent, clear, timely, interesting and challenging (too challenging and they will fail, not challenging enough and they will be bored so wont focus). By challenging I mean mentally. Most dogs can cope with any physical challenge we throw at them but mental challenges are a different ball game and give dogs a totally different kind of enjoyment. Dogs need us to interact with them in an interesting way but not in a way that can create manic behaviour e.g. repetitive ball throwing, or boredom.
So When Do You Start Proper Training?
LET THE PUP BE A PUP but do not interpret that to mean NO TRAINING. Puppy play training is probably one of the most important parts of your dogs training programme. Do not let your dog get to 1 year old and turn around and say you have let your pup be a pup and that you haven't even started sit, stay, retrieve and recall. If you do that you are asking for trouble. This is fine for very experienced handlers who know how to train just about any dog. But for the average dog and gundog owner, not doing those basics early on will lead you to a road of headaches.
And no, I am not advocating religious sit, stay, heel. I am advocating puppy play training which means, as the pup is growing through it's puppyhood, it should be starting to learn these basics in a fun and interesting way. If you try to do these basics too early and in a very strict manner, you may well break that poor pups soul. It is hard, I know, to find the right balance between puppy play training and training proper. To keep it light enough so that they keep their interest but consistent and concise enough for them to actually learn. There is a balance you need to find to get it right. It is the same with the retrieving aspect, for both those wanting their dogs to work and for the dogs who are pets (especially if they have come from working stock). With Spaniels in particular, you need to start that retrieving off very early, how early...?.....from the day you bring that pup home. No, you don't get that puppy dummy straight out from day one and say fetch. You get soft and light items, like a single old sock, and snake it about on the floor to get the puppy interested first, if you do put it out a little way from you and your pup jumps to get it great, but do not go and then take that sock straight out of his mouth. Praise the pup, keep the pup close to you and stroke the pup telling him how clever he is. And only after that, you can very gently, remove the sock from the pups mouth.
And even here you can get it wrong. Do too much of this, for too long over the coming months and things can go wrong. Like what......... you can totally sicken the dog so he totally loses interest in retrieving, you can use the wrong toy/dummy, etc. for too long and they can sometimes struggle to progress onto other items, getting into tug of wars is a complete 'no no', taking the retrieve straight from the dog can teach the dog to run rings around you rather than deliver (because you're only going to steal his trophy), not enough can leave the hunting dog with an over active hunting instinct and not enough retrieving instinct, and more.... So what do you do, well, you read your dog, not the dog in the book or on the dvd or your friends dog, you read your dog.
If one thing doesn't work, change it. Improvisation and imagination are great tools in dog training. Reading your dog is also a great tool in dog training. But for the average dog owner, bonding is your best tool for dog training. There are so many ways you can do this, but what you are trying to achieve is your dog keeping an eye on you and not the other way around, the dog wanting to be with you and please you, because this brings its own rewards for him. And never never give a command OF ANY KIND that you do not intent to follow through. And if you do give a command, always place yourself and your dog in the best possible position and/or situation for your dog to get it right.
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 him 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 how many 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.
OUR TRAINING GOAL IS EXCELLENCE, WHAT'S YOURS?