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The 12 commandments of choosing gundog training lessons

Our expert, Kennel Club instructor Paul Rawlings, tells you what to look out for when choosing where your gundog will be trained

Labradors in pickup
  1. First, you should be made to feel welcome. I would expect the trainer to be an experienced spaniel handler with evidence of success in competition, 
or perhaps a field trial judge.
  2. The fee should reflect the level of facilities and numbers in the class. One-to-one lessons cost more but with the right trainer it may well be worth it.
  3. The trainer should have a positive attitude towards the breed of spaniel you own. 
It will soon be obvious if they do not like 
or understand the breed.
  4. Vaccinations, regular worming and flea treatment should always be insisted upon before joining a class. Similarly, bitches 
in season should be excluded.
  5. Training methods should be positive and reward based. There should be no harsh handling or electric collars evident.
  6. The trainer should be respected by all present — an attentive, interested and happy class will be evidence of that.
  7. Expect to make progress slowly in class. You are there to be taught how to train your spaniel — it is then up to you between lessons to make sure you make progress in your own time.
  8. The facilities and equipment available for the class should aid learning. A safe environment is essential, with access 
to suitable equipment and water.
  9. Access to a well-stocked rabbit pen would be a plus. If the trainer does not have their own, I would expect them to help you access one when the time is right.
  10. As the training reaches its final stages, the opportunity to have your spaniel introduced to the real thing, and even shot over on a training day, probably on partridge or rabbit in September or October, would be a positive progression.
  11. Progress may seem slow at first but patience and a common-sense approach will ensure that in the end you have a well-trained spaniel companion for the future.
  12. To find out more about training near you, contact the Kennel Club, tel 01296 318540

Gundog training at home

Gundog training: It’s possible to conduct gundog training at home even with no prior experience.