QI like the idea of training my puppy to take out on a shoot but I have quite a lot of commitments. How much time will it take?
AI hate that question. Training your puppy should be a joy, a journey and a great learning process with a reasonable amount of effort and commitment. Something that is fascinating and that you develop a passion for. It is not a fulltime job but it does require time and effort and you get something special along the way. Gundogs should not be another accessory and, unfortunately, many are viewed that way.
People like the idea of a fully working companion but it is not a quick fix to get an acceptable level of behaviour in a shoot environment. I regularly get asked if I can train a dog and give it back once it is sorted and decline, as I feel the whole process of understanding the dog, its quirks and the bond that you can develop is completely wasted and lost if someone else does it. Plus, a lot of it is understanding yourself. Of course, there are some great dogs and equally great trainers who will take the not insubstantial fee and do all the work for you. The beginning of training the dog is arguably the hardest part as you are faced with boundless excitement, energy and youth. To a trainer this is a huge asset as you can work exercises into play and make the whole process an enjoyable game while moulding the dog to be the working animal you want. The downside of this inexorable energy is that you need persistence, insistence, structure and time.
It very often feels you are one step forward and two back at the beginning of training and it is the point that most people give in. It does take time and how long is completely dependent on you and is directly proportional to your level of enjoyment and ability to achieve a goal.