Route to be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional gun­dog trainer

Shooting Gazette - - Gundogs -

The Gun­dog Train­ers Academy has be­come the first or­gan­i­sa­tion in the UK to of­fer spe­cific cour­ses to bud­ding pro­fes­sional gun­dog train­ers. The Gun­dog Club has in­vited the Gun­dog Train­ers Academy to be its pre­ferred ed­u­ca­tion part­ner and will in­cor­po­rate its train­ing cour­ses into its in­struc­tor ac­cred­i­ta­tion process. The academy has also ap­plied for ac­cred­i­ta­tion to the An­i­mal Be­hav­iour Train­ing Coun­cil, which sets the stan­dard for ethics and wel­fare in train­ing and is work­ing closely with DE­FRA to bring leg­is­la­tion into an­i­mal train­ing in the UK.

The Gun­dog Train­ers Academy is the brain­child of Jules Mor­gan and He­len Phillips who are ex­pe­ri­enced gun­dog train­ers and spe­cialise in us­ing choice-based, mo­ti­va­tional and pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment meth­ods.

There are huge num­bers of peo­ple own­ing gun­dog breeds in the UK mainly be­cause they are no­to­ri­ously bid­dable, so­cia­ble, fam­ily dogs. How­ever, the own­ers are of­ten quite sur­prised when their puppy be­gins to demon­strate behaviours they have never come across be­fore. Oc­ca­sion­ally these behaviours can be­come ex­ag­ger­ated, ob­ses­sive, or can mu­tate into some­thing quite bizarre. In­ex­pe­ri­enced own­ers of­ten don’t seek help with these quirky and of­ten rit­u­al­is­tic behaviours un­til they are quite well es­tab­lished.

Many well qual­i­fied, ac­cred­ited pet dog train­ers are quite ca­pa­ble of help­ing to mod­er­ate these behaviours. How­ever, for longer-term res­o­lu­tion, train­ers are seek­ing to re­fer on to gun­dog train­ers for spe­cial­ist help so these dogs are given proper, ap­pro­pri­ate out­lets to en­able them to ex­press their in­nate behaviours. Gun­dog train­ers know these behaviours are ac­tu­ally quite nor­mal ex­pres­sions of nat­u­ral in­stinc­tive be­hav­iour that are be­ing sup­pressed or that have lit­tle or no op­por­tu­nity to be ex­pressed.

The dilemma is that there are in­suf­fi­cient num­bers of pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment gun­dog train­ers, of­ten re­ferred to as “force free” train­ers. Pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment train­ers are some­times called “treat train­ers”, “food dis­pensers”, or “ok for pet dogs but not work­ing dogs”. How­ever, there is in­creas­ing in­ter­est from more “tra­di­tional” gun­dog train­ers who would like to learn about us­ing choice-based, eth­i­cal, pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment train­ing.

To ful­fil these re­quire­ments, the Gun­dog Train­ers Academy is to of­fer cour­ses start­ing in Fe­bru­ary and March 2019.

The Gun­dog Train­ing for Pet Dog Train­ers course is for those who al­ready have a recog­nised pet dog train­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion and a good un­der­stand­ing of Learn­ing The­ory and its ap­pli­ca­tion. The em­pha­sis will be the roles of gun­dogs, scent, wind, build­ing chains of be­hav­iour spe­cific to gun­dog work, prob­lem solv­ing, health and safety, shoot­ing, and teach­ing the foun­da­tion grades of the Gun­dog Club Graded Train­ing Scheme.

The Crossover Train­ing for Gun­dog Train­ers course will fo­cus mainly on in­tro­duc­ing and ap­ply­ing Learn­ing The­ory as a sci­en­tif­i­cally proven route to teach­ing dogs. As well as ex­plor­ing the nuts and bolts, there will be greater em­pha­sis on en­sur­ing clar­ity in teach­ing and learn­ing, prob­lem solv­ing and trou­bleshoot­ing with­out the use of aver­sives. The in­ten­tion for these train­ers is that they will go on to pro­mote eth­i­cal choice-based train­ing as the norm in the gun­dog fra­ter­nity.

On suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of ei­ther of these cour­ses and pass­ing the as­sess­ment process, stu­dents will be in­vited to be­come full mem­bers of the Gun­dog Train­ers Academy. This qual­i­fi­ca­tion will be a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards be­com­ing a foun­da­tion in­struc­tor with the Gun­dog Club. Visit gun­dog­train­er­sacademy. co.uk or email: ad­min@ gun­dog­train­er­sacademy.co.uk.

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