We started training February with a group of 14 dogs and handlers. The aim of group training at the start was to instil the solid basic foundations of working with our dogs. This included straight lines, stop whistle, sequential target training and slowly starting to work at distance.
The large group was split into two teams with David Whitehead mentoring and training one group and Paul Duncan taking the other under the overall watchful eye of club trainer Darren Kirk and David Cocking. On occasion we swapped groups so that all could benefit from different methods but all working to the same goal.
Later down the program we changed the teams and routine again so that everyone got used to working with all of the other team training members. We also started to target our training to specifics in areas such as obstacles, water, working to shot and blinds. We also made the decision to reduce the size of the group to 10 members so the difficult decisions had to be made.
Through various reasons we ended with a really good solid group of 9 handlers that again reduced by 1 to eight to give us our two teams. Team Bren and Team Milly. The choice of names was easy and very fitting in that a handler and dog wee absent this year through sad events. They were missed by everyone.
With our two teams Paul and I really got our heads together and tailored our training to what we thought ugh the competition may include so we put the teams through their paces every week with walked up scenarios with multiple shots and birds down, blinds with distractions that were incredibly tough, multiple obstacle retrieves and sweeping up exercises always working where we could to shot, fur or feather. The teams found it tough every week, the trainers found it tough every week to keep challenging this group of handlers and dogs but we all turned up week after week. Staying behind for the extra half hour, getting to training an hour early to set the exercises up, booking 1:1’s with Darren to sort issues out.
Team Bren, Team Milly. A fantastic few months training. The results speak for themselves. Paul and I have found this a very tough thing to and have had our eyes opened to what it is like from a trainers point of view.
We both would like to thank all the handlers for their efforts and turning up week after week as it's not been easy but we would also like to thank Darren for his time listening and talking all our thoughts through almost on a daily basis but most importantly having the faith in us both to take on the challenge and deliver the results we all wanted.
Job well done by everyone.
David Whitehead & Paul Duncan.