Sending 8 month old Lab to Gun Dog School and

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by AW667, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. AW667

    AW667 Registered Users

    Mar 8, 2018
    I sense obvious disapproval but this is the right choice for our dog. We put her first and though we have done extensive training on our own to this point, we are not top professionals in advanced gun dog training , and if you are an advanced gun dog training specialist, kudos! If you also have the appropriate lands: ponds, creeks, lowlands, plains and hills at your immediate disposal then kudos again.

    But it would be counterintuitive and also counterproductive to attempt something where we aren’t the specialists . We have gone as far as we can. Hiring the best is the next best thing to us. We will be there, or my husband if my daughter and I are gone, every weekend assisting/learning and some weekdays as our daughter’s school is an international virtual school for tennis players, Olympic athletes, etc. so she has flexibility too. She’s also learned and trained our dog too (is quite good at it ) and will also learn more as we do the more advanced things

    Those visits and assisting and learning the advanced methods in the field lessens boarding time but as I listed what a person would need to produce a finished gun dog you can easily see why boarding is a necessity. It would be completely absurd to go home with a 3-4 hour complete drive daily during the week during this important introduction to advanced training. Yesterday with zero traffic we made it in a little over an hour. Weekdays going through the heart of Dallas or around would be 2 hours most likely.

    I wish you could actually see the beautiful countryside and the training ponds and the amazing set up. Maybe you’d be less judgmental. For terrain that is not located on the property for a particular species of game fowl they head east an hour via an excellent dog trailer to work on one of their other properties.

    We followed everything to a T to get her ready but as I said we are NOT experts in advanced gun dog training and this trainer has trained some of the most decorated dogs in the US and he’s highly respected by other trainers and now we know why.

    We always FaceTime our dog when my daughter and I have to travel for her tennis and are doing same with her now. She’s grown up with it. So will “see” us daily that way as well.

    This trainer is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. As I said on drop off day we spent several hours there and she was already following him around and listening intently, head cocked, to a new soft yet firm voice. Her assessment went very well, she’s ahead of the baseline he wanted, (more her natural instincts w/ our training ) which is good.

    My husband is an executive (wealth management/financial advisor) who is in the office during the day but with some flexibility to go out there and we have one daughter that travels Nationally/ Internationally for tennis who I accompany . He will be able to co-train all weekends and daughter and I will join all we can.

    So judge if you like. Our beloved dog is happy, we are happy. At this point, I’m just wondering what you think the realistic alternative would be in our situation.

    I mentioned it before, it’s almost an anthropological study in the case difference in responses I received from the UK forum vs the US forums. This isn’t some redneck hillbilly operation. It’s a professional and progressive training championship program that tailors advanced gun dog training to a clients needs.

    Again, if you personally have the time you assert you do, plus the knowledge and possession of the different guns used for the variety of game hunted, ownership or daily access to the different physical environments with all the decoys and equipment for that diversity ....good for you. That’s great. But as we don’t, a highly respected open, secure, beautiful place with a trainer with assistants for each dog in the training group, all the exact same age, ours (she has three names for registering purposes but Arya for short), her litter /womb mate brother, and two first cousins lineage wise that are also the right choice.

    She’s getting to do what she is genetically programmed to do. It’s almost like “fun camp for hunting Labs”. All three of the other dogs I fell in love with too and all followed the trainer like the Pied Piper. Really amazing.

    I don’t really need to justify any further what has turned out to be a good choice, and I wish you good luck with your dog(s) and that’s great you are an advanced gun dog trainer that could do this, not many people are.

    Thanks for your input. :)
  2. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

    Jun 16, 2015
    leicestershire uk
    Can I just ask why you didn't buy a fully grown fully trained dog? Surely it would have been more cost effective and saved time, or do you enjoy training a puppy?
  3. Plum's mum

    Plum's mum Registered Users

    Jan 1, 2017
    East Sussex
    The thing is @AW667, you started the thread seeking reassurance that you were doing the right thing in sending your dog away to gundog training. You said you were worried, freaking out and feeling guilt. You said you couldn't imagine a day away from her.

    Now you are upset because most people expressed their reservations about your plans yet you asked for opinions.

    Your last post suggests you are delighted with a choice that only 4 days ago was causing you distress.

    I don't think people are being judgemental, they are just very clear it wouldn't be the choice for them.
    Naya, Stacia, Joy and 1 other person like this.
  4. Peartree

    Peartree Registered Users

    Nov 5, 2016
    I do think the reason that you are getting such a response is because the English Labradors are quite different in temperament. Most have such a strong bond with their handler that they will only work for that person.

    I did send my dog away for boarding for three months some time ago when I was ill. He went to a top field trial trainer as I was hoping that he would be able to continue with his training while I recovered. It did not go well and he rang me after three weeks and told me that although he had settled in very well to kennels and the pack, the dog was refusing to even retrieve a tennis ball. I was surprised as this was a dog that for me is so so keen that he would retrieve multiple times with no loss of speed and drive. He kennelled the dog for me but discontinued with any training.

    It’s not that you are being judged, more that most people could not imagine it working for them.

    Hope you dog turns out well and that you all enjoy it! Good luck!
    Naya likes this.
  5. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

    May 24, 2012
    You asked for our opinion, and now you are surprised when we tell you we'd generally prefer to train our dogs ourselves, rather than pay someone else to do so. I suppose for us it's the journey, and the joy and bond that brings, rather than asking someone else to create the finished product. I understand (I think) where you are coming from, and your dog won't come to any harm, it's just that I personally cannot imagine ever handing my dog over to another person to do the training.
    Naya likes this.
  6. Speedy

    Speedy Registered Users

    Feb 19, 2018
    I trained my black lab myself - he's now nearly 8yrs and we work as "pickers-up" on a local shoot. He's my first dog and I didn't have a clue what I was doing but I went to training classes and learnt from others and got great satisfaction from doing it. So much so that I've bought a second!

    Like you, my dogs breeder was a trainer, and my dog (Inca) goes to stay with them if I have to go away with work. Sometimes in their kennels and sometimes in their house. He adapts remarkably well. He was only a year old when I had to go away for a month with work and, like you, I fretted about leaving him with them for such a long time. But he was absolutely fine - delighted to see me on my return, but equally as happy to return there on subsequent visits.

    They didn't "train" him as such, but they took him out with theirs and if they were doing retrieves then he got one too. So yes, in a way, they did some training with him, but it was all very low key. I now take him to their shoot sometimes to help out when they're short and they've become friends.

    Anyway, I just wanted to reassure you that they do cope with being away, and they come home and relax back into their old routine. I travel a few times a year for work, and he always goes to them and always slots back into their pack and then returns to me when I get back. He'll always be 100% my dog, but I trust them, and it's reassuring to know he's so well looked after when I can't be here.
    Good luck x
    CamK and selina27 like this.
  7. AW667

    AW667 Registered Users

    Mar 8, 2018

    I’m not upset in the least. I thought it fairly ridiculous for anyone to say they would take on the onerous task of the entirety of AKC US advanced gun dog training themselves unless they were a trained expert, which it seems that poster possibly is so more power to her. But what that entails needed to be stressed. I don’t know many individuals who could provide what our top US academies for advanced training can provide. I know much more now than I did when I posted.

    I initially asked if anyone had bad experiences at boarding facilities, because I was having issues - that was the main query. Since the two systems are clearly very different, I posted (as I’ve said before) without knowing it was a UK forum. Gun dog training here, now that I’ve been quickly brought up to snuff, is entirely different, and much broader in scope, hence why 99% board their pet retrievers who will be gun dogs too during the seasons

    Overjoyed is my overall emotion. I clearly posted in the wrong forum, US training includes much more and does require boarding. After now seeing the beautiful space, the happiness and fun the dogs are having and meeting trainer and assistants it was a complete and total reassurance. So it’s not a volte face, I just didn’t know what to expect, now that I’ve seen and spent many hours there I see I was wrong to be apprehensive and should’ve trusted all of those who had said this was an amazing place. This trainer was hard to get ones dog placed with, I knew, and now know for good reason... because of his progressive methods, his overall track record, satisfied clients, happy and well trained dogs.

    It just seemed clearly some posters here are unaware of the vast difference in hunting in the US vs UK and the accompanying training that is necessary for the dogs saftety as well as learning the diversity of what it will be retrieving in diverse physical environments . With a rewards based methodology it takes longer. Which I prefer longer over force collars.

    As to getting a puppy rather than a finished dog , of course we chose to bond with our dog as a puppy first. There are finished dogs but we preferred what many , if not most here do.....prefer raising and bonding with a puppy when the dog will also be an inside/outdoor family member for life and then proceed to advanced training after the initial period of basic training done by us. The seasons are contiguous and in fall/winter. So this is the perfect time for advanced with continued refresher courses. Some will be boarding a few days here and there but mostly one of us will accompany/learn.

    She is quite the ecstatic pup and learning so quickly. She clearly enjoyed seeing us but loved showing off the first “new” she’s learned in the last days. Our dog is incredibly smart with a keen memory. She’s boarded overnight before and now that she’s seen we come back and forth she knows she will see us every few days. She comes home the 24th, so 9 more days of contiguous boarding and there will be periods of more boarding along the way but for shorter periods of time.

    I should mention prior to boarding we expanded her horizons as much as possible. She’s already done gun shot sound exposure and we have a lake house where she enjoys running wild and smelling the greater outdoors (but it’s not “country” so not enough property as it’s lake front to train her there) She’s run around and been to my brothers ranch (he’s a CEO in the city but like many here has property elsewhere) ...and rides with me or my husband everywhere. She goes into stores that allow dogs and is socialized. So when she got out at the trainer’s vast acreage..... she was in heaven...and that was reassuring. There was no, “but where are you going”?

    She sleeps comfortably in the trainers home in her own crate and so far no issues. Only pretty funny videos of 4 eager pups that get along well, so with the minders they get lots of free time on the acreage, they aren’t locked up. Training sessions for her are a bit longer than the other 3 as we had her ahead a bit of the others.

    I hope this adequately explains my original query and how seeing a place, in person and seeing the pups at work can assuage those initial feelings of doubt quickly. My husband already knew, but I had been traveling quite a bit with our daughter, I had not seen with my own eyes other than pictures, which always look good. I wasn’t going to fully trust until I had seen it myself.

    I think I’ve cleared up anything anyone could possibly have to ask, we are happy, our dog is happy, and I’ll see her and be part of training throughout the weekend, so good day to you and thanks again. It’s been an illuminating experience. :)
    CamK and JenBainbridge like this.
  8. JenBainbridge

    JenBainbridge Registered Users

    Jun 28, 2016
    Darlington, UK
    It's good that you're happy with it and your dog seems happy. I hope its everything you were all looking for. :)

    Please pop back and give us updates. As you've seen, it's a bit different in the U.K. I'm from northern England and I don't even know anyone with a gun dog, everyone just has pets (and I definitely have no aspirations of it of my dog).

    So it would be really interesting to see the progress and how you all get on :)
    SwampDonkey and Stacia like this.
  9. edzbird

    edzbird Registered Users

    Mar 31, 2015
    Isle of Man
    Sounds like you're all sorted out in your head now and happy. Looking forward to hearing how your pup gets on with her training. It's really interesting to be able to compare and contrast different training across the world. Like Jen, my dog is purely a pet so all I really know is from reading other people's experience.
  10. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Mar 29, 2014
    If you are 100% sure of the Trainers then all is well.

    I raise Guide Dog pups and they move on really well, heads high and tails wagging.

    It’s heart breaking for me when they move on, of course, and their bond does transfer first to their trainer and then their eventual owner. We are going to watch Mollie work a week today. It’s simply wonderful watching the pups work and fulfil their destiny, but they are clearly no longer ‘my’ dog. They remember me every time, of course, and are delighted to see me - but then, when it’s time to go, they trot off happily with their trainers.

    That’s when I’m proud and feel I’ve done my job well.

    selina27 likes this.
  11. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

    May 24, 2012
    One thing would interest me @AW667, you say in one of your posts "With a rewards based methodology it takes longer. Which I prefer longer over force collars" - I quite agree that positive training takes longer, but what exactly do you mean by a force collar, do you mean an e-collar? I know there are differences between training and practices in the UK and the US, and that in the US e-collars are commonly used.
  12. CamK

    CamK Registered Users

    Feb 9, 2017
    Minnesota, USA
    You have obviously researched your puppies training and put your mind at ease about the process here in the states. I thank you for sharing it here as there are some who do not understand the cultural differences and take offense when someone expresses a differing opinion.

    I thought of sending my 'boys' to training as sending my kids to summer camp or one of their sports camps. Had a great time and learned and loved home when they got back.

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