Now that I am free to train using my own methods, I’ve decided to shift the focus of my dog training efforts.
Until now, my methods were geared towards producing really smart gundogs, fit for the shooting field and to compete. The problem was that I didn’t agree with a lot of the harsh techniques that some trainers use in order to produce top quality gundogs.
And then I had a blinding glimpse of the obvious: the overwhelming majority of people who have gundogs as pets simply want a dog that is well behaved – whether in the home or, if they choose to, to take recreational shooting. They don’t want robotic Field Trial Champions that are often regarded as tools of the trade, have little contact with their owners and are kenneled outdoors. Most people want dogs to be members of the family who share the sofa.
Many if not most top Field Trial trainers won’t hang on to a dog that doesn’t show promise. But ordinary folk get a dog and accept it for what it is, warts and all, as a member of the family. And that’s exactly what my dogs are – family pets who have never competed and never will.
So I’ve rebranded myself as One Man and his pet Gundogs, just to make the distinction between, on the one hand, training to have a top quality gundog ready to compete and, on the other hand, a biddable, capable and well behaved member of the family who is also capable of being a steady and enjoyable companion on shooting days. Is it possible to have both? Yes, I’m sure it is. But having witnessed some of the training methods to produce Champions, I imagine that Champion pets are a rare commodity.
I recognise that I will get flak for this post and that some will tell me about how their Field Trial Champions have never received harsh handling. And I will say “Well done you!”. But I have yet to meet one …..